Sitting down to write this reflection, I kind of feel like Doogie Howser. You know, how at the end of the episode, he logs onto his word processor and starts typing out some very self-aware version of the day’s events with lots of wisdom and a touch of premature nostalgia?
I’ve learned so much more than the label “writing major” can even begin to cover. I feel like I’m part rhetorician, part writer, part designer, and part editor. After four years in the Professional Writing track at UCA, I’ve, of course, completed many, many projects. I’ve learned new theory, new tools, and new skills.
Participating in, and completing, the Professional Writing track at UCA was certainly one of my better decisions. My classes covered diverse topics, my professors were interesting, encouraging, and inspiring, and I’m graduating with a veritable ton of new knowledge.
Oh, and a full-time job that I love, in my field, using my degree (editing this site), if we’re counting. Although I’m happy to have a job in my field for all kinds of reasons (peace of mind, personal fulfillment, etc), I’m at least a little bit thrilled for a not-so-charitable reason. As a Professional Writing student, I heard the same two questions, over, and, over:
- “So you want to write a novel or stories or something?”
- “What can you do with that?”*
The answers, “No,” and “I can work just about anywhere that uses words,” confused people, no doubt. I wish I could track down every person who thought that business or pre-med were the only paths in life and set them straight. After four years, they got on my nerves. Does it show?
Speaking of four years, this portfolio is more or less what I have to show for it. That said, this may or may not actually be a collection of my best work, but it is a collection of work. Learning is never done, or some similar cliche, and this portfolio reminded me to really and truly keep all of my work in one place. Despite the advice of every professor, the written reminder in the writing contract, and common sense, I did not. Some projects (or parts of projects) are inaccessible as a result of changing technologies, both on my part and by UCA’s (that email thing threw me for a loop). I guess these projects are pretty cool, too.
This 35-ish page beast was my senior thesis. Because it was such an extensive project, I feel that it’s really the best demonstration of my knowledge of rhetorical theory, and particularly, the application of rhetorical theory. It also shows that rhetoric can be applied to anything. This project didn’t come from an idea to examine a social institution, it came from two thrift stores where I found two different editions of bridal manuals from the same publisher. My friends thought I was crazy when I told them I was turning it in to an in-depth research project. My friends were obviously not PW majors.
This project from Digital Media 1 was one of the first projects that required me to really think about design. I had some background in design from the photography classes I took in high school, but was new to the theory behind design. As you can see from the reflection (which is original to the project), I very painstakingly thought out so much of this project. Really, I probably over-thought it (and overworked it), but I love that it reminds me of the basics.
I included this project because I love that it demonstrates the idea of localizing for your audience and the implementation of usability testing. Since we wanted the site to clearly target girls, one of the most important choices we made was to include pictures of young women actively engaging in filmmaking throughout and to use someone representative of our target demographic for our tutorial videos. To make that happen, I borrowed my little sister for an evening and she did a stellar job demonstrating how to use the camera in an easy-to-understand way (with our script, of course). Unfortunately, the videos are no longer up (don’t ask me–my teammate did it), but they were a really fun part of the project that I felt added to the authenticity of our (fake) camp’s mission.
*said in a less-than-encouraging, more-than-a-little-condescending tone.