English Portfolio Reflection Essay

Below we offer an example of a thoughtful reflective essay that effectively and substantively capture the author's growth over time at California State University Channel Islands (CI). We suggest that you write your own essay before reading either of these models-then, having completed your first draft, read these over to consider areas in your own background that you have not yet addressed and which may be relevant to your growth as a reader, writer, or thinker.

Any reference to either of these essays must be correctly cited and attributed; failure to do so constitutes plagiarism and will result in a failing grade on the portfolio and possible other serious consequences as stated in the CI Code of Conduct.

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Sample Reflective Essay #2

Author: Nekisa Mahzad

I have been a student at California State University Channel Islands (CI) for 5 semesters, and over the course of my stay I have grown and learned more that I thought possible. I came to this school from Moorpark Community College already knowing that I wanted to be an English teacher; I had taken numerous English courses and though I knew exactly what I was headed for-was I ever wrong. Going through the English program has taught me so much more than stuff about literature and language, it has taught me how to be me. I have learned here how to write and express myself, how to think for myself, and how to find the answers to the things that I don't know. Most importantly I have learned how important literature and language are.

When I started at CI, I thought I was going to spend the next 3 years reading classics, discussing them and then writing about them. That was what I did in community college English courses, so I didn't think it would be much different here. On the surface, to an outsider, I am sure that this is what it appears that C.I. English majors do. In most all my classes I did read, discuss, and write papers; however, I quickly found out that that there was so much more to it. One specific experience I had while at C.I. really shows how integrated this learning is. Instead of writing a paper for my final project in Perspectives of Multicultural Literature (ENGL 449), I decided with a friend to venture to an Indian reservation and compare it to a book we read by Sherman Alexie. We had a great time and we learned so much more that we ever could have done from writing a paper. The opportunity to do that showed me that there are so many ways that one can learn that are both fun and educational.

The English courses also taught me how powerful the written word and language can be. Words tell so much more than a story. Stories tell about life and the human condition, they bring up the past and people and cultures that are long gone. Literature teaches about the self and the world surrounding the self. From these classes I learned about the world, its people and its history; through literature I learned how we as humans are all related. By writing about what we learn and/or what we believe, we are learning how to express ourselves.

I know that my ability to write and express my ideas, thoughts and knowledge has grown stronger each semester. I have always struggled to put my thoughts on paper in a manner that is coherent and correct according to assignments. I can remember being told numerous times in community college to "organize your thoughts" or "provide more support and examples". These are the things that I have worked on and improved over the past couple of years and I feel that my work shows this. The papers I wrote when I first started here at C.I. were bland and short. In these early papers, I would just restate what we learned in class and what I had found in my research. I did not formulate my own ideas and support them with the works of others. The classes I have taken the past couple semesters have really help me shed that bad habit and write better papers with better ideas. I have learned how to write various styles of papers in different forms and different fields. I feel confident that I could write a paper about most anything and know how to cite and format it properly.

There are a couple of things that I do feel I lack the confidence and skill to perform, and that is what I hope to gain from participating in Capstone. I am scared to teach because I don't know how to share my knowledge with others-students who may have no idea what I am talking about. I hope to learn more about how teachers share their knowledge as part of my Capstone project.

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Careers in English and Writing

The English program at California State University Channel Islands prepares students for a wide range of exciting and rewarding careers, including:

  • English teacher
  • Social media strategist
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  • Print and digital publishing
  • Law
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such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Edward Said, whose post-structuralism and post-colonial ideas are represented in my essays in both the citations and methodology. While myunderstanding of such dense theoretical positions is still in its infancy, I have always made theattempt to wrestle with these ideas in my work.The first essay in this collection is a final essay written for Dr. Jane Creighton’s ENG3322 Mexican American Literature class. Titled, “Caught Between Two Worlds: thePredicament of Antonio Cuitla in Américo Paredes’s

The Shadow

,” this essay discusses theeffect of the so-called American Dream on Antonio Cuitla, the protagonist of the novel


. Paredes creates a hybrid character in Cuitla that is at once Mexican and American, butthe latter only in spirit. I argue that the story’s protagonist is haunted, not by the ghost of hisdead


, but the ghost of his identity as a Mexican person. This essay is a goodrepresentation of my ability to discuss a work of fiction and elaborate on its meaning through theuse of critical and historical texts. The study of identity and Cuitla’s duality drove my essay, andit marks a beginning of a chain of thought that spans the course of my upper level course work.The next essay is also a critical examination of a novel, and again, it was written for a classtaught by Dr. Creighton.In the spring of 2009, I registered for ENG 4311, Contemporary Literature being taught by the cooky yet brilliant Jane Creighton. My essay that semester discussed a novel by J.M.Coetzee, titled

Waiting for the Barbarians

(1980). In “The Double Face of Empire” I useCoetzee’s novel and the deconstructive theory of literary scholar Susan Van Zanten Gallager toargue that in the empire-colony dichotomy even the most innocent colonizers are culpable in theactions of the state. I discuss the use of torture in the novel as a way to describe the transfer of information between colonizers and colonized through pain inflicted upon the body. In this essay2

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