Final Reflection

29 May

My goal throughout high school was to become a better writer in order to pursue a journalistic career after college. Thus I took as many English courses as possible; some of which included journalism, newspaper committee, and honors English. These courses significantly helped me better my writing skills and consequently made it easier to write papers throughout my high school career. Teachers even commended my writing and often times had me assist others with their assignments. By the end of my senior year I was confident that my transition into college writing would be effortless, but little did I know how difficult writing in college would be.

My first year writing courses showed me that high school did not fully prepare me for college writing. In high school, writing expectations were minimal. One was asked to write a paper, and it always consisted of the standard five paragraph essay. However, college level writing requires one to go beyond the minimum, and better yet, not to follow an inane form of structure. One must thoroughly analyze complex literature, integrate one’s opinions, learn to write in several genres and for several audiences, present a credited argument, and most important, become one’s own filter. Yes, I did use those writing techniques throughout high school, but never at a level that required much work or effort. Those tasks were somewhat minimal. However, as a result of my first year writing courses, I learned to incorporate those rhetorical techniques into my writing and became a better writer because of it.

Some of the rhetorical techniques that made me a better writer are shown in my WRD 103 analysis essay. This essay required examining an argument and presenting a well-written argument on how the author did a good or bad job at presenting her own argument. I did this by identifying how Toulmin’s elements of an argument were incorporated into the author’s essay.

At first, I had much difficulty in writing this assignment, considering that teachers in high school would aid me whenever asked. Thus I spent much time in trying to present my information in a very organized manner. To do so, I placed my introduction first, which included the author’s claim. That was followed by supporting paragraphs that consisted of the reasons, evidence, assumptions, and qualifiers that the author provided to support her claim. I integrated my opinion at the very end, which stated how the author made a good argument. Overall, depicting each element the author used and what credible information was presented throughout the author’s essay consequently made my argument much stronger.

Moreover, this assignment was difficult because my professor was also a supporter of the “be your own filter” motto. She would assign the class a topic and just let us write. One had to find out what were Toulmin’s elements of an argument and from there, find them in the essay she assigned. However, she was not much help at all. Often times she would just sit at her desk and text on her phone, but I believe this neglect challenged me to become a better writer by not always being “spoon-fed” the information.

My second strongest piece is my WRD 104 “America: Land of the Free, but With Many Contradictions.” This essay hit very close to home. It was an essay that I could relate to and this made my passion much stronger when expressing what undocumented students go through to get a higher education. I stated the point of views of the undocumented students, but also those who are against allowing undocumented students to benefit from federal financial aid. I believe that showing the opposing views of an argument is essential because one can then disproof one of those views in order to make a case. For example, I stated that many people in the United States believe that undocumented immigrants do not pay taxes because of their lack of a social security number. Thus undocumented students should not benefit from the taxes American citizens or residents pay. However, a great proportion of undocumented immigrants do pay taxes. They do this through a tax identification number provided by the Internal Revenue Service. I also presented the economic hardships that undocumented families encounter, as well as court cases that prove education should not, or more precisely, does not discriminate against anyone. Moreover, I presented information on the struggles that undocumented students face after college if they are able to acquire a college degree. All this information supported my claim, but finding it did not come easy.

I was optimistic when we were told that we would be our own “filters” when composing our essays. I assumed it would not be a problem finding everything on my own. However, because I live so far away from school, being my own filter almost became a nightmare. I went to my local library and asked if they had anything on undocumented students or immigration in general, but no information was found. I was somewhat surprised considering that immigration is very much prevalent at this time. Therefore, I decided to ditch the library and investigate from home. I began my research by how most students begin their intellectual investigations: Google. I found it pretty helpful finding information, but I did not view much of the searches as credible because most of them were blogs, institutions that I had never heard of or found much information on. Thus I decided to move along to a place where there would most likely be credible information: DePaul’s database. Consequently, I found most of my information from journals in DePaul’s database. Some consisted of Harvard Reviews and journals from The College Board. I knew these were credible sources because the journals cited other prestigious institutions in which they located their information. Also, The College Board is a well-known institution that works with various universities in order to provide standardized tests, as well as studies of universities throughout the country.

Overall, I think that I succeeded in becoming my own filter because of my first year writing courses. I learned that although some libraries might not carry the information I need, there are always other places to look. Although I used DePaul’s database for most of my research done this quarter, I also sought former professors for help. For example, I contacted my Latino psychology professor from first quarter and asked if I could borrow a book she was so fond about during the fall term. This book provided interviews from undocumented students and was extremely helpful when looking for information to support my “Purpose of College” essay.

Therefore, being one’s own filter is not something that should be dreadful. It is a process that makes one a better writer and investigator; a process that will definitely help me in my pursuit of a journalistic career, because being “spoon-fed” the information does not constitute being a journalist.

Peer edits done in class:

29 May

Rough Draft

17 May

Higher education attainment is essential to the success of Latino immigrants in the United States. This is due to a high school diploma no longer serving as the basic credential for successful employment (Fry, 2002). Moreover, because the majority of Latino immigrants work in low-wage occupations with little opportunity of upward mobility, children of Latino immigrants must attain access to the higher sectors of the economy through education if they wish to avoid the difficult economic hardships that their parents faced upon arrival to the United States (Abrego, 2009).

For example, students of Latino immigrant families living in the Los Angeles area encounter economic hardships throughout their lives, regardless of their legal status (Abrego, 2009). Dependent on low-wage labor, Latino immigrant families are restricted to crowded living conditions and often times live in dangerous neighborhoods. Accordingly, Latino immigrant students often report feeling unsafe in their neighborhoods due to the high rates of violence (Abrego, 2006). According to the Latino Studies department of the University of California in Los Angeles, “the local high schools [that Latino immigrant students attend] tend to be highly neglected sites of violence and general apathy” (Abrego, 2009). These living conditions that Latino immigrant youth experience throughout their primary and secondary educational career are factors that influence them to pursue a higher education (Abrego, 2009). But the most prevalent purpose of college for Latino immigrants stems from their determination to try to better their family’s economic situation, which often times leads Latino immigrant students to working full-time and studying part-time.

Latino immigrant working students see college as a way of decreasing economic need, but understand that work might take up more time than school in order to reach their dream of earning a degree. There is a very high labor force participation rate among Latino immigrants, which includes a large number of youth who are enrolled in college (Fry, 2002). Among low-skilled immigrant family members, household incomes of those students are usually built to acceptable levels by combining the earnings of other family members, which are also poverty-level wages (Fry, 2002). Therefore as a result of economic necessity, Latino immigrant students view working and studying as way to provide for their family in the now and in the future. Interestingly enough, this ethic of work and school is remarkably different among U.S-born Latino youth. U.S-born Latino youth [16 to 19 year old] are four times more likely to be in school and not work than their immigrant peers who came to the United States as adolescents (Fry, 2002). However, the strong commitment to work, family and school that both U.S.-born and non U.S-born Latino immigrants hold shows that they pursue a higher education regardless of the economic obstacles they encounter on the way (Fry, 2002). Overall, the majority of Latino immigrant students’ purpose of college is to have a future without working in low paying jobs (Perez, 2009). The high rate of Latino immigrants working while in school also shows why Latino immigrant youth decide to attend community colleges and why so few enroll into college full-time (Fry, 2002).

Family and community as well as the concern for economic need appear to be the main purposes for Latinos’ attendance at four-year colleges, but Latinos also present a high rate of enrollment in two-year insitutions for those same reasons. Community colleges are usually located near residential areas and rarely provide dormitories (Fry, 2002). Although the typical college student seeks separation and the chance to explore the world away from family, the Latino community puts much emphasis on close family ties, which is shared by most Latinos regardless of national origin or income (Fry, 2002). “Among Latino immigrants this often translates into an expectation that children will live with their parents until they marry,” (Fry, 2002). Among 18- to 24- year-olds, 44 percent of Latino undergraduates attend a two-year community college as opposed to approximately 20 percent of both white and black undergraduates (Fry, 2002).

Community college usually features many characteristics that explain their appeal to Latino immigrant students. First, there is the economic standpoint: “as a rule, tuition is lower compared to four-year colleges” (Fry, 2002). This is significant to Latino immigrants because according to the College Board, forty percent of Latino immigrants live below the federal poverty line (Gonzales, 2009). Second, “degree programs are often designed to accommodate part-time students, and classes are scheduled in the evenings to accommodate students with full-time jobs” (Fry, 2002). That way Latino immigrant students can continue to contribute to their family income and pursue a higher education in order attain a higher economic status for their family in the future. Thirdly, and most common, many Latino immigrant students view a greater purpose in attending a two-year institution rather than a four-year college because community colleges offer courses that aim more at improving job skills rather than at advancing toward a degree (Fry, 2002)s. This becomes a great purpose for Latino immigrant students because the skills acquired at a two-year institution can benefit Latino immigrants much faster than at a four-year institution since their families often depend on “hands-on” (electrician, computer technician, etc.) job-skills to contribute to their family income (Fry, 2002).

According to Frances Contreras’ study of undocumented students and higher education, the undocumented sector of Latino immigrant students possess the persistence of ganas, or determination, in order to achieve an economic status to help their families (Contreras, 2009). Contreras states that like many Latino immigrants, undocumented students show determination to succeed with their work ethic. Contreras writes that undocumented students work diligently in restaurants, cleaning offices and construction work, all while studying, in order to pursue their dream of earning a college degree in order to improve their family’s economic status (Contreras, 2009). However, some undocumented students’ purpose of college is not only to give back to their family.

Contreras states that the determination to achieve a higher education is also seen in undocumented students’ goal to give back to their communities (Contreras, 2009). Contreras states that it is typical for undocumented students not only to work and study, but also be active in community service work. Most of the undocumented students Contreras interviewed said that because of their lack of knowledge about postsecondary education when they were in high school, they view college as an opportunity to gain knowledge and share that knowledge with undocumented high school students about the college process (Contreras, 2009). For example, some undocumented college students conducted workshops in Spanish for Latino high school students and their parents and informed them about the process of applying for college. Prior to their help, the undocumented high school students, like the undocumented college students conducting the meeting, were informed that undocumented immigrants could not attend college (Contreras, 2009). Another example of viewing college as a way to help others is Alejandro: a third year undocumented college student at the University of Washington. Alejandro pursues to become an attorney in order to help undocumented immigrants overcome the injustice posed upon them in the United States (Contreras, 2009).

Overall, we can conclude that like many students who pursue a higher education, Latino immigrant students view college as a way to better their economic status, as well as a way to pay back their families. Additionally, Latino immigrant students seek the intrinsic rewards of obtaining a college degree. Thus college not only serves as a way to be certified in order to obtain a high salary, rather it serves as a place to become more knowledgeable to help one’s community. And in the case of undocumented immigrants, college serves as a place to help those who are treated unjustly due to their migratory status in the United States.

Peer Review Guide:

2 May

• Introduction: Is the title/intro. clear in presenting what the research paper is about?

• Audience: How does the writer appeal to the audience? (emotional/factual?)

• Major Points: What are the major points of this paper?

• Purpose/Thesis: Does the writer support the thesis/purpose of the paper? Is there evidence to prove the main point?

• Organization/Flow: Is the essay easy to follow? Are there effective transitions? If not, how can the writer better the essay’s flow?

• Paragraphs: Which paragraphs are presented well and which need improvement and development (make suggestions)?

• Conclusion: Is the conclusion well developed, or does the essay just suddenly stop without a proper last assessment?

• Grammar/Sentence Structure: Overall, is the essay well written? Are there any awkward sentences? Does sentence structure vary (does it get boring)?

• Overall Thoughts: What are the main strengths and weaknesses of this paper

• Visuals: Do the visuals help or distract from the purpose of the paper? Should some be taken out, or should more be added?

Project Proposal

23 Apr

My research topic focuses on the question, ‘what are the effects that undocumented students encounter in higher education?’ However, coming to this final issue took much longer than expected. I first considered subjects of interest and subjects that were simply relevant to my life. Consequently, I thought of how my family in Mexico has been affected by the violence caused by the cartel drug wars, yet not much information was found on that matter. After many attempts of composing a narrow topic/question, I arrived at the subject of undocumented immigrants. This subject is relevant to my life because both my sister and I were undocumented students for many years. Thus I decided to focus on undocumented students and education. From there, I narrowed that subject to the issue of, ‘what are the effects that undocumented students encounter in higher education?’ Accordingly, my hypothesis became: Undocumented students living in the United States encounter obstacles when trying to obtain a higher education because of the United States’ federal legislation concerning undocumented students, and undocumented immigrants in general.’

Becoming aware of the problematic issues undocumented students encounter is important because it allows people to better understand and help those immigrant students that want to attend college. Because this topic focuses on undocumented students, undocumented students trying to obtain a higher education are my target audience. Immigrants altogether may too be part of my audience because many undocumented immigrants have children facing the issue of higher education. I will also like to target politicians so they can become aware of how legislation effects those who are intellectual students, but who are unfortunately undocumented.

Précis #1:

Contreras, Frances. “Sin Papeles y Rompiendo Barreras: Latino Students and the Challenges of Persisting in College.” Harvard Educational Review 79.4 (2009): 610-631. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 22 Apr. 2010.

In this journal, Frances Contreras argues that undocumented students are beating the odds just to obtain that prolonged dream of attaining a postsecondary degree. Contreras presents a case study made up of twenty detailed interviews with undocumented Latino students. Contreras goes more in-depth by reviewing the implementations of HB 1079 and the DREAM Act in order to make others aware of the challenges undocumented students face when trying to attend college. Because this journal presents personal insight of undocumented students and a review of federal law, this article is targeted to the immigrant population of America, as well as those in the academic and political fields that are trying to better understand the challenges undocumented students face regarding postsecondary education.

Précis #2:

Abrego, Leisy J. “I CAN’T GO TO COLLEGE BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE PAPERS’’: INCORPORATION PATTERNS OF LATINO UNDOCUMENTED YOUTH.” Palgrave Macmillan Journals 4 (2006): 212-31. Google Scholar. Web. 22 Apr. 2010.

In this journal, Lesley Abrego focuses on undocumented students trying to obtain a higher education, and the challenges that such an aspiration comes with. To do this, Abrego presents information on how undocumented immigrants assimilate to American culture, what federal laws restrict them from obtaining a higher education, and presents interviews with undocumented students, as well. Abrego puts the issue of undocumented students and education in social and psychological contexts in order to understand the issues that undocumented students encounter when trying to obtain a higher education, and the psychological issues, such as assimilation, prior to trying to obtain a higher education. This journal contains information on undocumented students psyche and social challenges that restrict them from going to college, thus this journal targets an academic audience trying to understand what psychological and social issues undocumented students face when trying to go to college.

Précis #3:

Kasarda, Ralph W. “AFFIRMATIVE ACTION GONE HAYWIRE: WHY STATE LAWS GRANTING COLLEGE TUITION PREFERENCES TO ILLEGAL ALIENS ARE PREEMPTED BY FEDERAL LAW.” Brigham Young University Education & Law Journal 2 (2009): 197-244. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 22 Apr. 2010.

In this journal, Ralph W. Kasarda argues that federal law preempts allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition. Kasarda presents background information on undocumented immigrants that are granted in-state tuition, as well as past state propositions and federal court cases. Kasarda reviews the cases of Martinez v. Regents of University of California in order to prove that in-state tuition is an educational benefit because federal immigration laws deny it. Because this journal argues against allowing undocumented students to obtain a higher education, the target audience are politicians seeking to prevent undocumented students from achieving a higher education, as well an academic audience interested in federal legislation regarding immigrants, such as lawyers and policy makers.

Project Question

12 Apr

What are the effects that undocumented students encounter in education?


• AB 540
• Interviews
• Psychological effects of being an undocumented student
• Federal Legislation

“Interrupted Reading” Part II

5 Apr

Jean Baptiste-Camille Corot is a French painter that is most known for his paintings of landscapes. Although painting landscapes was Baptiste’s forté, the artist also took an interest in painting portraits during his later years of life. One of those portraits includes Corot’s “Interrupted Reading.” The portrait depicts an uninterested, middle-aged woman holding a book. The Art Institute of Chicago describes the portrait as a painting of Corot’s ideal woman. According to the caption, a woman who looked depressed, and even somewhat miserable, was the “thing” to be during the 1870s. However, my interpretation of this paining is much different to that of the gallery’s.

The Art Institute’s description of Corot’s “Interrupted Reading” does not make much sense because it shows no relation with the title. The title, “Interrupted Reading,” does not suggest that the woman in the portrait is the ideal woman of the 1870s, or that Corot was infatuated by her depressed look. Thus through research, I came to the conclusion that Corot’s “Interrupted Reading” tries to capture a woman who is in deep thought in order to escape reality. Therefore the painting is an interpretation and symbolism for fantasy. The New Criterion supports this claim by stating that Corot uses books as “symbols of enchantment” (The New Criterion, 1996). The symbolism of the book suggests for people to concentrate on something other than reality, and to fantasize in order to escape the chaos of one’s life.

Furthermore, Corot’s portraits create an experience of relaxation, as his paintings of “gauzy landscapes” do as well (The New Criterion, 1996). Thus to add to my interpretation of Corot’s “Interrupted Reading,” I believe that the painting also tells people to slow down, think and relax. One can definitely feel relaxed when looking at Corot’s landscape paintings, but I can experience it when looking at Corot’s “Interrupted Reading” as well. This relates to the symbolism of fantasy and enchantment because when viewing any painting, I tend to fantasize about how it would be to live in that time period, or just in the painting itself.

In all, I believe that my interpretation of the piece well represents the portrait’s title. The portrait is of a woman whose reading was interrupted by thought and fantasy.

The most difficult part of this assignment was finding credible sources. The majority of the results from Google were websites that sold recreations of Corot’s paintings and reviews about his work. Therefore some of the sources I used on the first part of the assignment are probably not credible. I also confronted the problem of not finding sources that dealt with the piece itself. However, I did gain knowledge on how to get sources off of DePaul’s database and learned about Google scholar. These two search engines helped significantly in the second part of the assignment because they found articles that dealt with the actual piece, and that incorporated information about the artist as well.


Kimball, R. (1996, December) “Corot in New York.” The New Criterion. Retrieved April 6, 2010 from

“Camille Corot.” (2010) Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved April 6, 2010 from