Growing Pains

Santi Gill


As a kid, growing up, as a kid does when growing up, there were many times when I would mess up, forget, or misunderstand something. Now obviously it’s common to do these things as a kid, but usually it’s the job of the parents to correct them in a way that they understand what they did wrong, and to make sure they know what to do to not let it happen again. My parents didn’t really understand that too much, which is why I almost never take myself too seriously, for better or worse. This is not to say I do not respect or have confidence in myself, I do, I just don’t see the reason why they would get so mad when they did. My parents each have their own mental issues on their own, so when they were together it was double the nonsense.

The earliest instance I can remember is around 2010-2011 when I was 11 or 12. Having just drank through three of them my dad told me to throw out the water bottles. Now the “system” we had of recycling bottles in the house was to throw the cap out, rinse the bottle, and put it in the blue bag. So I went to the kitchen, and took off the cap. It was water, so I felt no need to rinse the bottle with something that was already on it. You wouldn’t rinse yourself in the shower by adding more soap, unless you want a longer shower. Yet my dad still yelled at me to rinse the bottle. I tried to explain to him that it was redundant by doing that, to no avail. Lesson learned: nothing.

Then came school assignments. My parents were ludicrously hard on us about doing good in school, in the worst way possible. They were always pressuring me to do better, and I was never really good at math. I recall getting yelled at for not understanding how to subtract properly. This never did any good for me. It only frustrated me to wanting to do better, and feeling bad for myself when I didn’t do better, which would then lead to parents taking away things, like my phone, or the computer.  We also weren’t allowed to play video games on weekdays, which made no sense to me. All “immature-wanting to play a video game-I’d never be able to focus” tendencies aside, when I’m done with what I have to do, why shouldn’t I be able to enjoy myself afterwards? It only ever felt like a punishment. But all of this manifested in 2012 when they divorced.

My parents were kind of religious. Not too much, but enough where you had to take God seriously in the house or you might get struck by lightning or something. With this, I know divorce can never happen to us, because it would be a sin. Yeah, no, it did. It was November 2012, before Thanksgiving. I forget where we were coming back from, but regardless it was me, my dad,  my little brother and my little sister in the car. It was pretty cold, we all were bundled up with our puffy jackets that made us look out of shape. My dad was talking about putting up a tree, while we were trying to tell him it’s too early to do that. We pulled up to the house, and we see some guy speaking to my mom at the door. My dad walks in and the guy tries to hand him a piece of paper, while my dad ignores him and heads inside. I take the paper, and I read that it says “DIVORCE”. Obviously there was more on the paper than just that one word, but that was all I needed to see. Obviously I could see why it got to that point, they weren’t good together, which can be a story of its own. However, this situation mattered because everything felt turned against me, and events afterwards during the divorce process would double down on that feeling. My mom’s treatment to my dad was disgusting, and at the same time, I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to know, help, or understand how my Dad felt. This made going into high school hard, as I had to associate with new people, at the same time dealing with what was going on at home. One of the ways I was able to deal with all this was humor. Being around all that negativity is probably what gave me a dark sense of humor, but this allowed me to find the humor in many things. Obviously not everything though, otherwise I would be a psychopath. I realized that balance is necessary between work and fun.

However you find it, if you don’t find a way to have fun with what you’re doing, you will never feel happy. I love learning, and it is fun, but being yelled at to learn, or to do something, is not. Maybe I could’ve done things differently, I do regret not being social enough during this time, having someone to talk to probably would’ve helped, but nonetheless, I am who I am today because of it. I try to find happiness in the dark times, because if you don’t you will be lost.

Santi, see my marginal comments HERE.

Education Essay

Karina Ramsey

Dr. Carrie hall

English 1121


Not As Seen On TV

Coming from a small island into this big country with so many moving parts it was very intimidating; not to mention attending school in America for the first time. School, where I come from, was basic and very religious. We had our own stuff that made it fun, however, when I watched TV as a kid, school is America just seemed like so much fun. So, it’s my first day of school in America, and I was super excited. I walked it in not knowing that uniform was required because on tv they never wore uniforms. I met my teacher, and to my surprise, he was also from a small island as well, so I wasn’t as nervous, because he was kind and welcoming. I walked into the classroom, and the first thing I said to myself, in my head was, “this doesn’t look like what was on tv.”

The kids on TV had lockers, cool book bags, didn’t wear a uniform, they seemed very free-spirited, the food in the cafeteria looked good, they had classes like music and dance, and it just didn’t look like school was a lot of work in America. However, in reality, the students looked bored, everyone was wearing uniforms, and the teacher was actually teaching. The food was terrible, there were no lockers, we were locked in a building like we were in a prison even the windows had bars. One thing I liked about my school in the islands was the fact it was near to a beach, so I would sit in my classroom with the windows open and feeling the gentle breeze passing seamlessly through my hair. I didn’t expect a school in America to be such a rip off from what I saw on tv, or maybe that’s just schools in Brooklyn.

I took my seat next to the radiator with my back facing the window and sitting next to me was a young lady by the name of Khadijah. Khadijah was very welcoming, she instantly said hi to me, told me what topic we were on and did the simplest thing, ask me what my name was, oh and did I mention she was black. I’ve always thought that I would be in a classroom with a bunch of white kids but, to my surprise, my class was predominately black. The teacher got in front of the class and began to teach math, my favorite subject by the way, and then he asked a question. Me, being me and knowing the answer to the question, I raised my hand with no hesitation. He called on me, and I answered. Instantly I felt different. It wasn’t because my answer was wrong, it was because it didn’t dawn on me that I was different from everyone else until I spoke and didn’t sound like my fellow classmates. I didn’t have an American accent. Then I felt the eyes. Almost all the students in the classroom were looking at me. I felt out of place like I didn’t belong. I looked like everyone else, we were all black….but yet a bit different.

My brother also started school that same day as me but was put in a higher grade. His experience was very different from mine, because that afternoon when we were talking about how our first day went, I noticed that the way he spoke, and his English was different. Again, me being me I said to him “wha you talking in style for.” I said this because to me home was our safe haven, where we all spoke the same way, and I didn’t have to be the orange chip is a bag full of yellow chips, because at home we were all orange chips. However, it seemed like I was the only one having a hard time adjusting.  To my entire family, I just needed to start speaking “proper.”

My family, who mostly speaks the same exact way as I do, is telling me that I need to talk “proper.” I knew what they meant by proper, they wanted me to speak like my American peers. “Proper” to my family is speaking English with correct grammar and change of accent.

Granted my grammar was horrible and to this day still needs improvement, hearing them use the word proper didn’t sit right with me. It didn’t because to me, they were implying that the way I spoke wasn’t right and that wasn’t ok. It made me feel like they forgot that in our home country mostly everyone spoke this way. At this point in was wondering to myself “should I stop being who I am?”

I am a person who takes the time to think about what people say and take it into consideration. The issue was that, I wasn’t purposely speaking with my accent, I just couldn’t turn it off and switch to talking like an American, like I guess my brother could do. I literally couldn’t because I genuinely tried to. I tried because I didn’t want to feel out of place in a place where I would be spending a lot of my time. Then I meet the Liberian at my school, when I met her and started speaking the first thing she told me was that she loved my accent. That was something I have never heard before, and I didn’t know if I should say thank you or not. She went on to say, “you should never lose your accent, it makes you very unique.” After she said that to me, I went home and thought to myself, “she’s right, I should be proud of my accent. No one else in this place speaks like me.” Over the years I have come to embrace my accent, and I love the way it comes out when I’m happy, sad, or mad. My education was never flawed because of the way I speak so, I will continue speaking with my accent, but in a professional setting I will speak “proper.”

Final Draft

Contagious Energy by Michael Vignoles

Michael Vignoles

Dr. Hall 1121


Contagious Energy

Most of my days started out at eight in the morning.  Orange rays of light began to peak out of the clouds as the train whizzed by. New Yorkers were still yawning, lulled by the sounds of the train, their long tired faces adorned with bags under their eyes, and their dazes were always  far away and out of focus. You could tell some were still in dire need of their morning coffee. Then there was me, in my own world. My shoulders were getting sturdy to every beat of lil Wayne. That’s how I got hype for work, like I’m Tom Brady about to win another Super Bowl. The store was located in the heart of the city, right under the Empire State Building. It shone it’s light above, like a beacon, leading me home. This first day at the flagship store was like no other. Customers and staff were looking at me like I was absolutely crazy on drugs. I was screaming at the top of my lungs welcoming everyone into my store, I didn’t mind the stares though. Not one customer was going to  pass me without being greeted. I screamed “She’s a size 9 in women and the hubby here is a size 11 in men!”, to a couple that came in. It was followed by a slight second of confusion in the customer’s eyes, as she wondered how I knew their size but I didn’t stick around to long to explain, I was already running downstairs getting their shoes. As I ran back back up the stairs, everyone could hear me yell, “We can’t stop and won’t stop!”- my signal to let customers and staff know that I’m giving 110% in everything I do. Both staff and customers constantly asked my manager, who I had been working with for a year by then, “Who is that and why is he so loud? Is he always like that?”. Without batting an eyelash she would reply, “That’s just who he is”.

In my eyes, to be the best manager one could be, you have to be able to motivate every employee under your wing as well as anyone that walked into your store. I was able to get the opportunity to become a manager at the highest volume store, because of the energy I exuded and the relationships with customers I was able to make. Oddly enough, my motivation was knowing that the world we live in has gone to shit. For example, we have a buffoon of a president in office; we have concentration camps separating children from families, and people of color who still do not feel safe enough to buy a bag of skittles and an Arizona. At times it feels like we as individuals have no power and control to make a difference. With a set of rosy colored glasses on, it was then that I realized that I met hundreds of people around the world virtually everyday and that I could then have the power to impact every customers lives that I crossed paths with. Even with something as small as my famous greetings. In a world that makes you seem so small at times, I finally found a way to make a huge impact.

I once had a family who was visiting the city from Wales while working at the store. They were a couple, with their daughter and son. While spending time with them for the first time I didn’t think anything out of the ordinary would come of our interaction. I made them laugh and they even bought a lot of items from me, though they didn’t seem to intend to. It was when the family came back the next day, and the day after just to visit me that I felt that this was something different. Their hotel was right next to the store so they always ended up visiting at least once a day during their trip, just to say hello to me. On their last day in the city the family and I took a group selfie, and they said next time they come back to the city there going to come and find me. I was shocked that our small interactions had grown into a bond almost friend like, with my confidence on the rise I let them know that the next time they would  see me I would be running the store. This family only served as a reminder to my manager of how much my presence, kindness and energy meant to them, how it set me apart from all of my other coworkers. With everything seeming to fall apart out in the outside world, I was just happy to be able to bring a smile to this family everyday on their trip in the city, letting them into my own little world for a while.

One last experience I remember with a customer, started off seemings awful. It is not often to see a customer who’s shopping and looks so unhappy at the same time, so when they came in they caught my attention almost immediately. This customer came in with her friend, both from Long Island and visiting the city. Without mentioning why she looked so miserable I proceeded to help her with shoes. My goal was to get her to try something on but it was also now to wipe the unhappiness from her face if even for just a second. I brought the shoes out she asked me for and some other ones that I thought she might like. One thing I learned was that customers who you are able to make laugh and connect with were the easiest to persuade to buy.  I knew I wanted to make her laugh so I pitched some socks because I knew I would be able to make jokes with them. My favorite line to go in with was, “I have some socks. You get five pairs for only nine dollars. That’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, you don’t have to do laundry. That’s also five days worth of warm-sie toes-ies”. At first it was rough, she was still visibly upset but then she began laughing and suddenly it was like she forgot why she was so sad to begin with. Later that day I found out that the reason she was so sad was because her boyfriend broke up with her and her friend was trying to show her a nice day in the city. I had only managed to heighten the niceness of the day.

These were just some of the experiences that I believed were so small, and yet ended up leaving an impact with each and everyone of these people. What amazes me more is how many other lives I’ve impacted but just never really realized it. I’ve learned that regardless of whether you give out love and positivity or hatred to this world, it will always return tenfold later.  My job was to persuade customers to buy products from my store, however, I was the best at it because it became much more to me than that. I truly cared and wanted to give a one of a kind shopping experience, leaving all customers with a smile at the end of the day regardless of what was happening in that awful outside world. I can’t control that outside world, but in my world, my shoe store, I was able to make smiles for everyone.

Marginal notes HERE. The rest of the comments are in the “Comment” section. 

Fuck School

Haider Mahmood

Dr. Carrie Hall

English 1121

February 7, 2019

Personal Breakthrough

I am in my high school auditorium having a good time with my friends. Its 1:30 because I usually skip this US government because if I go I end up falling asleep anyway. If you deeply inhale you can smell the pizza the school has been serving every Friday for the last 50 years. I feel comfortable and happy that I’m hanging with my friend but at the same time I feel guilty for not going to class. I look around and see multiple people crossing through the auditorium wearing the gym outfit trying to get to the C-Gym. Then there’s those multiple group of friends just like us who didn’t feel like going to class.

Why is class so important to me? Why would I feel guilty if I’ve been skipping classes for the last 3 years of my high school? Because this year its graduation. If I pass my classes I get to go to graduation and if I fail I would have to do another semester in high school. Even though I never was interested in going to graduation I still knew inside me that it was a once in a lifetime moment. So why was I not going to class. For two reasons one because I had a bad group of friends around me and the second being my accent.

The reason I hung out with these people is because even though they were a bad influence they were just like me. We all would be going through the something like a problem in life and we could count of each. We all would skip a classis and at the same time and meet and in the auditorium and talk about it. The best part is we didn’t judge each other, and we always helped each other find solutions. The reason we would have skip class is because all of us got out of school at different times and none of us had lunch senior year.

Growing up with my mom teaching me Urdu and only speaking to me in Urdu confused me in a lot in middle school a lot. When I went to school and where we spoke English transitioning from my Urdu to English I developed an accent. Even though I could perfectly understand people in English, when I tried to reply they couldn’t understand me. This limited my ability to speak a lot with my friends, I couldn’t communicate as much and couldn’t participate in activities. The reason I’m telling you this is because in high school I didn’t have a heavy accent, but the point was that even when you don’t have the accent no more it’s the fact that having it makes you uncomfortable at times.

What was the point of coming to school? What’s the best way to make money if I leave? What can I do to change my habits? What can I do to boost my confidence? Questions I would ask myself every day. It wasn’t until I realized that life was all about evolving, becoming a better version of yourself. At the second I decided it was time for me to change everything. I met up with all my friends and everything I wanted to do just left my mind. It went back to just having fun in life. As much as I wanted to do good in school I also wanted to have fun. I have this mentality if something isn’t fun I really don’t want to do it. I realized before I tell my friends I must change my mindset. It took a week to see that I really wouldn’t be something in life if I didn’t graduate. I went to my friends and told them we should start going to class.

I finally had enough courage to say those magic words. They looked at me and asked what happened. I told them everything I started thinking of for example we would have no careers and be making no real money in life. I started to convince them all to class too. Now that I started going to all my classes my only problem left was my accent. I asked everyone I knew what I could do about that and they said just practice. So, every day I would go to an English tutor that would teach me a bunch of new words and then I would go home finish homework asap to practice my words and that really helped because by the end of high school my accent started fading away. As classes end I got my report card and going to class really paid off because I didn’t fail any. Summer came, and I did the same thing every day I would practice my words.

In conclusion working hard in life really pays off. changing your mentality can really get you somewhere in life. If you want to accomplish something, then you must put everything you got into it. its good if you change your bad habits but even better if you change your friends too. To succeed together is the best feeling knowing all of you made.

Your marginal comments are HERE.  Your grade and my endnote are in the comments. 

Under Pressure

Latrell Greene

Prof. Hall

ENG 1121

February 14, 2019

Under Pressure

A scene from my experiences that I look back on fondly was the moment that I learned how to conquer my nervousness, and not fearing pressure when performing my learned and practiced skills in front of an big audience. In my school, for Black History Month, we celebrated by having performances of poems, dancing, music and speeches by both students, and faculty of the school. I was one of the people performing, and I would be performing a pretty well-known 3 minute ragtime piece titled Maple Leaf Rag, published in 1899 by Scott Joplin, an African-American composer. What brought me to that moment was my taking the time to learn complex melodies at home with my old 61 key keyboard. Of course, with there not being enough keys, certain melodies that required a larger range of key-playing were off limits. After about 5 years of inconsistently showing interest in playing the piano, my parents finally agreed to buying a complete 88 key digital piano, fully-weighted keys and all! With access to a larger range of octaves and keys, I practiced more songs, varying in genre, and became more confident in my playing.

About a year later, in my senior year of high school, even though I didn’t take a music class, I took interest in the school’s music classroom, and its mechanical upright piano. Because it was the end of the day, and the room was empty, I decided to play some music on it, both to examine the way it sounded, and for fun. Thinking no one from the other room on the other side of the hallway could really hear me, or really paid attention, I played it, and though it needed to be badly tuned, the ragtime song that I played on it still worked. After finishing the song, and being unaware of any real audience, I was surprised to hear applause from the music teacher and two other teachers from neighboring rooms. The music teacher told me that she was impressed with my performance and asked me if I wanted to perform for Black History Month on her behalf, since she wasn’t going to be able to attend and hadn’t put anything together for her students. Reluctantly, I accepted, mostly because it’d feel wrong to just sneak into her classroom to play music, and then decline when asked to perform. That hesitance was there because that was suddenly a large amount of pressure than what I was used to. Even though I was confident in my ability to retain the songs on my own, there was still that almost irrational hesitance regarding my confidence with recalling it flawlessly in front of a large audience. It was because of this, that as the day approached, I got more and more nervous about the coming performance.

Then came the moment. After about a week and a half of practicing with the goal of making sure I couldn’t possibly mess up, the moment finally arrived. Behind me and to the left of me was an auditorium teeming with around 150 students, in front of me was the auditorium’s in tune upright piano, and underneath me were the pedals to the piano, and although they didn’t work, they weren’t really needed for the song I was playing. The air in the room was really warm, but I wouldn’t know if it was really that warm, or it was my nervousness making it feel that warm. I was still nervous, and even though I practiced the song I had already mastered every day for about 10 days, the feeling in my thoughts that I might still mess it up was still present. It felt like there was still a sizable chance that I might mess up in the middle of the song and forget what came next. Telling myself that even if I did, I would try my best to get back on track helped in a way, but not too much.

When the hosts of the performances introduced me, I felt the adrenaline and pressure hit me, but instead of being overly nervous, when I played, it was almost calming knowing that my nervousness, and the adrenaline was helping me stay sharp, and not messing up the piece. Getting closer to the end of the performance, I was calmed because I knew that even if I did mess up at the end, I’d already made so far, so perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. I actually started to feel more and more content with my playing, and when I finally finished, it felt like the nagging weight of nervousness and pressure that accumulated from this performance over the previous days was lifted off me, and I felt a wave of the feeling of accomplishment. From that point, I think that I had learned the lesson to trust that when I’m in the moment of applying skills that I spent time learning and refining, the sense of pressure wouldn’t always impair my ability to perform, but it can enhance it. Rather than doubting your abilities under pressure, you could look forward to it helping you stay sharp in the moment that it’s there.

The Education Process

The Education Process by Shauntai Smith                                                                                                                                                                                          So, it’s going on three years and I’ve been dedicating my precious time, hard work and patience to the most crappy school known to mankind, New Dawn High.  If the beige prison walls weren’t enough to drive me insane my teachers definitely passed that test with flying colors. As you can probably guess this was not my favorite place to be. For starters, everyone began at 7AM and left at 4PM which is awfully long compared to the average school day and for some strange reason the fact that this didn’t bother anyone else bothered me even more. As I began to rest my legs on a chair that was laid out before me, I couldn’t help but think about my future, my life and what I wanted it to be like. My fellow classmates were “grown”, either they were in their early 20’s, the loudest babymothers you’ve ever heard, babyfathers trying to get their life together, pregnant girls, dropouts, drop back ins, thugs and so on the list goes. All the kids were either sleeping or sleeping, exactly.                                                                                   I hated it there. For three years I felt misunderstood like no one including the teachers got what my “problem” was. I had no intentions on coming to this school you know, my teachers could feel my uninterested aura every time class begun. How could learning things like how to perfectly dissect a pig or finding the circumference of a sphere be valuable to my life? I couldn’t focus because as they read from their over-sized textbooks that could barely fit into their hands my mind would fade out,blocking their words like it was nothing. I was the smartest, always thinking ahead of my classmates so i knew i wasn’t the problem. I then grew tired of what was expected of my education process. A little talk with my kind, loving and extremely supportive parents led me to really think about my next move.                                                                                                So, I dropped out going against everything society thought to be true about the learning system being “needed” for one to succeed I thought to myself “you gotta make ditching school count for something”. Every morning I got my ass up with only one thought in my mind, money. I had no idea that I was in for a rude awakening but let me get to that part. It’s Friday! I could feel my check already in my hands before it actually got to me. Shopping, Chipotle and even a bit of weed all circled continuously in my head as I stood in line to grab my envelope with the words “shauntai smith” on it. I’ve never seen my name on anything regarding to money, just turning 17 I had no idea what to expect but I knew whatever came out of that envelope was mine, all mine. I reach for my envelope and there it was staring at me and sadly to my surprise I stared back in disbelief. It wasn’t a very good number at all. A total of $296.75, more like a total of disappointment.                                           My nose began to burn. I was fully aware that I was a few seconds from  crying and thinking of how much the money did not match the pay nor the amount of energy that was expected at all times. How much could I expect from a job that let a high school dropout like myself come work for them at 17. I was a baby compared to my fellow coworkers. They had children, rent, mortgages and yet they were still were comfortable. They collected their money every week happily without a complaint in the world. At this point I began to question everything. Do I really want to be here, working my ass off for hours and hours to receive a shitty paycheck or do I want to feel good about the work I do along with a higher pay-grade? The one thing I knew is that I did not want to be like these women who were stuck under these circumstances because they couldn’t or didn’t want to commit to school as well as furthering their education. Being 17 definitely gave me an advantage in life, countless room for growth and promising opportunities. I still had a pretty good chance to get my life back on track, this pushed me to make another decision and this one might just be my best one yet! Trying to grow up too fast wasn’t in my best interest and this dreadful draining place was not where I was meant to be. The next morning I enrolled myself in a GED program.                                                                                                                         I’m aware that pursuing my GED wasn’t going to be an easy task, shit if anything it would be tougher to gather all the information i’d have to learn within 9 months in only 2 . This new school had everyone be registered to take the test in 2 months to eliminate the feel of high school (music to my ears). The school understood my concept, all I wanted was to get a diploma so I can study a subject of my choice for once in 12 years. Two teachers taught all four subjects and they got the job done! They made everything easier to memorize and took the complicity away from subjects. I sat in the front of every class, breathed in every technique and material my instructors had given us. I knew I could not play around with my future anymore. I couldn’t be the old lady at some job getting paid less for more. Day in and day out I studied my life away, attended each tutoring session I could get my foot in. At this point in my education process putting my inner feelings to the side to receive that diploma I was so ready to get was the top priority. The day for testing came quicker than the flash! My baggy sweats and furry sweater comforted me in my long hours of sitting down and answering questions. I received the news exactly 2 weeks from the day I took it and to my surprise I passed. I passed everything, all five subjects in one shot. I realized that it was not about me in particular, I didn’t have to be the best I just had to want it more than anything else and let fate take it’s toll.

Marginal comments HERE. Your grade and my endnote are in the comment section. 

The Tree of Dreams

Giuseppe Biondi
Prof. Hall
English 1121 (D494)
Final Draft

The tree, a tree that I care more than anything else, a tree that helps me getting every difficult task done, and remembers me of the most inspiring person of my life, my grandpa. A tree that reminds me of all trips of every Saturday or Sunday, where me and my grandpa use to go when I was back in Italy. That tree, that every morning remembers me of an adventure, past, and the one I take every morning a step over my house door. A tree that will always have the summer smell of the nature, a nature that brings me back in the hills of Sicily, where my grandfather and I walked step by step, admiring what nature has given us, a gift that many planets in the universe do not have, trees. A tree that my grandfather took from the hills, and then plant it in front of my house, so that it reminds me of all the advice that he shared with me. The tree, which helps me overcome the greatest difficulties of this world.

Day by day, what I remember is a past time, a time, where everything was beautiful and handsome. Trees is what I remember, then, a natural paradise, where the perception of our sense’s changes, because of the nature that involves you, as if it was the last match of an important team. Sicily, my island, this is what I remember every day, looking at the tree in front of my house, and while I look at it, it takes me back in there, like a time machine, but only the most beautiful memories will surround you, because at the end a life without good memories is not a happy life.  Every morning awakening, what the tree transmits to me, are not only memories of the island where I was born, but also the nature that it transmits to the people that live near me, because it is considered one of the most beautiful trees in Gravesend, my neighborhood in Brooklyn. All seasons of the year it transmits a different emotion, but a happy one. During the summer it is always full of green leaves that makes me, my neighbors and even the animals happy. And this is what gives me strength when I have to face days when I’m bored and unhappy and it gives me courage, as if it were the person I would always trust, my grandpa.  The tree reminds me of my grandfather, as if he is watching me waking up every morning, he’s what the tree remembers me of, because it was him who gave life to the tree, and my feelings for it. My grandfather, the person that I would never be afraid to say what I think of him, or something that went wrong that day, or just to express my ideas on something. Just so every afternoon I linger in front of the tree, as if I am talking to my grandfather, and say all the good memories that happened to me that day or other. While talking to the tree, I imagine my grandfather, as if I would be talking to him instead of the tree, and it’s this that gives life to the tree, like if it was a person and not a plant.  I call it “The Tree of Dreams” because it brings me with him to beautiful memories, like the trips with my grandfather in Mount Etna, where nature envelops you like a burrito. Trips, where the beauty of nature is all you will remember at the end of the day, and where every step counts because nature changes every step taken. From flowers, to majestic plants full of color that gives the nature of the island a beauty, that diversifies it from the others. Every step, where my grandfather explains to me the birth of plants and how they manage to take their fascinating color that not many other plants have. Where step by step, you will have a different memory of the nature that surrounds you, and it is precisely this that makes it unique.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Since the tree has been planted in front of my house, it has helped me so much, overcoming the darkest periods of my new life since I’m here. The most difficult times, were when my family from Sicily are here to stay with us. The moments spent with them are always, and forever, the most beautiful once ever, since I was young. But when it’s time for them to return to Sicily,  are always the worst moments, because saying goodbye to my family, and not knowing when I would see them again, it’s frustrating for me, and leaves me a sense of darkens inside me, because the most important thing that my parents taught me are to make a life of our own, and love your family. Therefore, I am so close to my family, especially my cousins. In all this, the tree helps me remember the best moments spent with them and then helps me both morally and mentally, to face any kind of challenge to problem that arises. Every day I spent some time talking to the tree, most of the time I tell it, the craziest things I’ve done with my cousins, like the time we jumped from a 12 meters rock near the beach where I live. Sometimes I even tell the tree, my feelings when I was around my friends, where the only thing that surrounded you was happiness.     “The Tree of Dreams”, is where all best memories can live, where I can forget everything,  and it also helps me to immerse only myself to what nature has to give us, where I can be the protagonist of all my dreams, where I am the key to change the story, where I will decide where it will take place and how it will end. Every day I ask myself a question, “who are we to decide our destiny?”. Only now I understand what the tree has tried to tell me, with past memories. We  are the key to our destiny, and we are the necessary component to finish it in the best possible way, because after all, if we really believe in something, everything is possible.

My marginal comments are HERE. My endnote and grade are in the comment to this post. 

Final Draft Unit 1

Laisha De Jesus

Professor hall

ENG 1121

It wasn’t always like this


I’m in my bed everything’s dark and a wave of thoughts hits me. All these thoughts are whispering to me saying you will never be anything in this world your ugly and an idiot. They keeping on repeating over and over again to soon bring back terrible memories that I just want to forget. I kept on going back and forth with myself it felt like I was at war. Each bad thought was a bomb that would blow up in head. Silently crying with every blow. Falling asleep a few hours before my alarm to go school. I would hardly get any sleep at night because of all the things my bullies would tell me would flow through my head. Everyday I would wake up, I would putting on a mask to hide to hide myself from the world.

It wasn’t always like this. I was usually a happy optimistic person but moving back to New York took a toll on me personally and academically. Being bullied for almost three years straight can really fuck you up mentally. All these doubts made me think I wasn’t cut out to do anything.These doubts started when I was in the 4th grade where I started getting bullied. My bully would mock me every time I would get an answer wrong which was very often. He would also critique me about how I looked. He once called me a fat whale because I was chunky. The worst part about this was that the teacher knew this was happen but she would not stop it or she would blame on me for it happening. This did not affect me at the time but it would soon come to haunt me in the future.

It all started coming back to me in the 7th grade when the bullying have started happening again. All the mocking and the criticizing got under my skin  but the this time it took a higher toll on me. Slacking became my middle name. I did not do classwork or homework in English and Math which were the most important just to avoid being mocked. Also I would skip those classes which was detrimental to my education. The only way I would get my work done is if the teacher would work  one on one with me or I would stay after school to finish the things I was missing. My read and writing skills never reached its full potential. In math I didn’t understand any of the equations. It felt like I was read something in a different language. Not paying attention throughout the school year made taking the State test even more difficult. Which I soon failed and I had to go to summer school for.

After barely passing summer school I made it to the 8th grade. I started the year slacking but that all changed once my English teacher Ms.Sterling did everything in here power to push me to believe I can do anything I put my mind to. She got another teacher in the class just in case I need help when she was busy with another student. She would also stay after school to help me better my writing and to motivate me to do better in my other classes. Not only that she would always put me to read book and read out loud so i can get more practice and bring up my read level. Her pushing me to do better made me want to change my mindset on learning. She would tell me on the daily “It don’t matter if you got made fun of for not knowing the answer what matter is that you need to work to understand and get it right the next time”. Soon my writing had gotten better and I’ve gotten better at reading out loud and individually. In math everything was becoming more understandable but I was still struggling. The State test was right around the corner. It has been a very long time since I passed a State Test so hearing that passed I felt relieved and proud of myself for actually passing. Ms.Sterling was proud of me she kept on repeating “I knew you could do it”. Graduation came along and I never in a million year I would’ve thought I would had  make to that point or even be able to go to high school. Once I was in High school, I kept on pushing towards being my best even though there was obstacles in my way.

All in all, my learning experience may have not been the best but it did not only help me grow as a person but as a student too. Yeah bullying can push you over the edge but you can find yourself again and become a better you. Many people you would have not see coming can make your life either a living hell or a carefree paradise. You just have to push through those obstacles and never give up on yourself and your future.

Your marginal comments are HERE. Your grade and my endnote are in the “comments” section.

High School Journey (Final Draft)

Joshua Stone


Professor Carrie Hall

ENG 1121

Final Draft

High School Journey

The most memorable moment in my life for now would definitely have to be my high school graduation. Not only was it one of the most significant moments of my life, but it was one of the major stepping stones of my life. This was the turning point in my road to being an adult and choosing. my career. Despite it being a conjunction of emotions, being either the happiest day of your life or the saddest, it is still a day that is hard to forget. Many students have endured those difficult four years of high school, whether it was getting grades for your classes, passing the regents, or trying to receive honors for academic accomplishments. In my case, it a little bit of everything. My main focus were perfect attendance, above satisfactory grades, and passing the mandatory regents and then some to receive an Advanced Regents Diploma. After enduring those four long years, I was able to accomplish each one of these goals, as well as a few of my classmates. The feeling of accomplishment was definitely on unforgettable and I think everyone who had the same goals in mind would agree. Of course there were some students that simple settled for a regular high school diploma, but I couldn’t blame them. If didn’t have the encouragement of my parents, teachers, friends, tutors, etc., I would have the same mindset as them. Fortunately, my goals were set on being an overachiever and showing everyone that I’m different.  

I remember my high school the journey as if it was yesterday. I hardly believe there’s anyone who could forget this so-called “journey”. Freshman year was the start of it all. I was your typical student on his first day. I struggled to find classes, had trouble making friends, was dogpiled by assignments and homework. Those days eventually turned for the better. Even though I technically had a head start due to taking certain courses and regents early in middle school, everything was still so much to take in. After the first week, I finally started getting some stability. I basically become everyone’s friends, to my surprise, and the classwork started to seem less of a headache. After the first few months, freshman year was basically smooth-sailing. I kept my grades reasonably high, stayed away from the bad crowd, and was always on time. I eventually got used to this cycle and became fully adjusted to the high school life. Then sophomore year came around the corner.

Sophomore is by far the most headache-inducing, stress-giving, and agonizing year of high school by far. The reason I say this is for one reason only: regents. Most of the classes I took were hellbent on making sure each student passed each regents with a 80 or higher, and that’s only an understatement. Even an 80 would be considered disappointing in their eyes and that reflected in our class work. We received assignments and practice exams nonstop and they didn’t stop coming until everyone did well. Thinking back to it now, it did work, but only to an extent. To be precise, about 90% of the students benefited from this, and that’s me being generous. I’m more than positive there were more students that couldn’t take it anymore and gave up halfway or just burned themselves out. I was eligible to take some of my regents early (Geometry and Living Environment), in which I passed with exceptional grades. Some of my friends followed right behind, some surpassed me. And of course, there were some who could care less, would rather take it next year, and just flat out bombed it.

During junior year, everything seemed to be more laxed. We had less classes meaning that we got to go home early, which everyone was excited for. We had the same regimen for regents prep, but was definitely a weight of your shoulders compared to sophomore year. The same people that I’ve been friends with since day one has matured so much, it was like they were completely different people. Those who could care less about their education did a full 180 degree turn and started to treat their school with more seriousness. One of those students even ended up on the school council. We continued our year like an other. The classes were more difficult but our teachers managed made our lives more easier. By this time, we also took the time to start looking for colleges and deciding what career we were interested in. Finally, regents week came and had everyone on edge, since the time to make up for their mistakes is winding down. I managed to graze by with just a above average grade on my Trigonometry regents, above satisfactory on U.S. History regents, and passed with flying colors on my Spanish regents. I was just able to survive this storm of regents but I pulled through, and so did a majority of my classmates. For some, time for improvement is dwindling and senior year is their last chance.

And last but no least, senior year, my best year of high school. Not only was our school schedule was even shorter, but our classes were even more lax. On top of all that, most of us have regents out the way so we can all focus on getting our credits now. We were taking college level classes, so we had our fair share of difficulties. We also had a lot of free time on our hands, so a handful of us took that time to relax and unwind, while other took that time to study or start looking at colleges. For those who are behind, they received special attention to ensure their success and eligibility to graduate. After all is said and done, we could finally move on to the fun part of the year: senior activities. First came prom, in which in all honestly would be the third best day. Then a field trip to D.C., which was definitely a highlight of senior year. Third came a visit to a fancy restaurant in New Jersey.

Finally the day has come, June 23. Everything was about to change. This would be the day I become not only be a college student, but a step closer into adulthood. The silly things I used to do during high school days would be memories now. I used to enjoy the conversations I used to have with our friends, the parties, the classes, teases each other, and much more. Those things are no more in our life. It took place at Adelphi University The day started as a normal one and ended as memorable day in my life. It was mixture of emotions. Happiness of seeing friends after longtime and sadness of realizing the fact that there is no more high school days in our life. Others cried for other reasons, such as being unable to seeing friends and classmates again. But who could blame them? I’d be heartbroken too if I was unable to see the people I spent the past four years with laughing and learning. I sat there with my friends, probably for the final time, and watched as their names were called and as they receive their diploma. Others like me received awards for other accomplishments such as attendance and honor for other subjects like history and science. Finally, my name was called. I heard my parents, sisters, loved ones, and my soon-to-be former classmates cheer for me. All my dedication and accomplishments has lead to this moment. I walked on stage, shaked my principal’s hand as she gives my Advanced Regents Diploma. This diploma that was given to me is not just a paper, it’s the reward for the continuous hard work and dedication. It definitely wouldn’t possible without the support of parents, teachers and friends. Thanks to my parents, teachers and friends for being a back bone throughout the phase of my education.

My marginal comments are HERE. My endnote and grade are in the comment section. 

Final Draft Unit 1

David Wu


Prof. Hall

English 1121

More Than A Game

Ever since I was a little kid, I loved the game of basketball. The speed of the game, intensity, and aggressiveness always got me excited to watch the stars play. It started off with me spending time with my cousins watching games on television. Little did I know that playing basketball would have a much greater impact on my life than I could have ever imagined. It was a unique sport to me which led me to picking up a basketball at the age of 10. I would go to the backyard of my house just to practice by dribbling around. My older cousin would take me to the local parks to shoot around. It was when I was 13 I actually learned the correct way to play basketball. My friends and I went to an indoor court and one of my friend’s cousin showed up. He was the one who taught me how to shoot the ball correctly, how to dribble the ball in many ways, and how to play defense. I don’t believe people when they say that Basketball is just a game. I believe that basketball can teach people a lot of things in their lives. One of the lessons I learned was that life isn’t fair. I soon learned that when the referees in the game were making horrible calls or calls that didn’t make sense at the time. It seemed that all the calls that were being made never went our way and the referee never made the correct call when the call needed to be made. This happened a lot in a lot of games so I learned to accept it and just move on. Another lesson it taught me was how to have good sportsmanship. Playing any sport in general involves both wins and losses. You learn to be proud of your success without despising your opponents. You learn to accept failures and come back stronger next time. Over time you will realize it’s not really the win or loss that makes a difference. If you gave everything you’ve got, no matter what the outcome is, you can walk away with your head held high. This also applies in life too that everything you do does not always go your way. There are highs and lows but if you continue to give whatever you do your very best you will always emerge victorious. Another lesson basketball has taught me is how to make sacrifices and time management. In order to balance sports and other activities, you have to make certain sacrifices. This, for me, would mean cutting down on free time, so that I can balance studies and sport. A lot of time management is involved here too. In life too, nothing worth having comes easy. Sacrifices need to be made at every step in order to achieve what you aspire to. Through sports you learn how to do this and how to utilize your time for your greater good. Another lesson I learned from basketball is that nothing comes easy in life. It all comes down to hard work and dedication. A lot of the stars in the league states that they didn’t make it here by luck but by all the hard work they put in everyday to deserve to be in the league. If you really want to excel at something, hard work is the only way. It is the same with any other field in life. If you want to get better at school or get a raise at your workplace, the only way you can do it is by hard work. There are no shortcuts to this.  We are always taught to dream big but what we don’t realize most often is that our dreams don’t work unless we do. There is no substitute to hard work, ever. Basketball has also taught me to not dwell on my mistakes but to learn from them. If I don’t make a shot or lose my dribble, I just get back on defense and don’t mess up on the next possession. In basketball, you are taught to never give up. A few minutes can change the game in so many ways. Even on days when your shots just don’t go in, you have to keep trying and help your team in the other areas. You need to contribute in the defense, go after loose balls, make good passes and help in any way you can. You can never give up, not on the game, not on your team, and especially not on yourself. You keep trying until the very last second.  In life too, there will be many occasions where you will want to give up, but you need to fight and work hard. The most important lesson that basketball has probably taught me is leadership and communication. Basketball is a team sport and in every team there’s a captain. If the team isn’t communicating, I step up and take control of the team. I would tell them what play to run and they would respond by doing the play. To a lot of people, Basketball is just a game but I believe it can teach people these things by playing the sport. It is a gateway to learning life lessons.

My marginal comments are HERE. My endnote and grade are in the comments