Ali’s Reflective Change Essay

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Our First-Year Seminar, Color and Money, has had a very big impact on the way that I now think about race and social class at Trinity. Coming into the semester, I didn’t really know what to expect from the seminar other than the fact that I knew that the topic would be thought provoking and interesting. This semester, I have learned a lot about myself and discovered some of my underlying perceptions that I have regarding the college admissions process, and especially with respect to how race and social class can have a large impact on the process. At the beginning of the semester I found it fascinating and exciting to do stimulations of the college admissions process. It made me think a lot about what happened when my own application was read and what the admissions officers said about me. As anxious college applicants, we try to make our application as desirable as we possibly can, and it was interesting for me to gain a different perspective on how the process works and what goes into the process. The simulation also made me think about other people and their personal admissions process and some of the factors that may have benefitted them. Some of these factors include, legacy, athletics, and race. The seminar in general has made me think differently about race and social class and how the student population deals with the issues that stem from different races and social classes.

One of the most interesting things that we did this semester was interviewing the sophomores about their own perceptions of race and social class. Though they are only one year older than we are, they have a whole year’s worth of knowledge and experience being a member of the Trinity community. Some of the most insightful and interesting things that the sophomores said in their interviews was their observation of the defacto segregation in Mather dining hall. For me, this was extremely interesting because it is one of the first things that I noticed about Trinity. I think that this is one of the causes of some of the negative and sometimes racist feelings that people feel on campus. The discussions that we had in seminar were very thought provoking and at times, heated, which I thought were extremely valuable and enriched my overall experience in the class. Though, at times I was uncomfortable hearing some of the strong opinions of my fellow classmates, it did however cause me to look deeper inside myself and my own thought and opinions on the topic of race and social class.

For example, when we were talking about stereotypes and how black students may be treated differently by campus security officers or dining hall employees, the opinions shared and discussed showed me many different perspectives and ways of thinking about those problems that occur on campus. Though I went to public school my whole life, the town that I lived in and therefore the schools I attended, were not very diverse. I have lived a pretty sheltered life thus far, and am eager to expose myself in my years at Trinity and beyond. Though Trinity is not extremely diverse, it is a step up from the diversity I experienced growing up. As a result of the seminar, I am more aware of my perceptions ideas of different races and cultures of students at Trinity. The seminar has made me much more conscious of the separations of students by race on campus.

I think that my views on the racial differences at Trinity have changed a lot over the course of the semester as a result of the class discussions and readings that we have done as well as just by being immersed in the campus community. I think that I am more open to new ideas and opinions about race and social class as a result of this seminar. Throughout the semester, while I was learning so much in class whether in discussions in general or discussions about the books that we read, I also learned a lot about myself as a writer.

I think that my writing has grown tremendously over the course of the semester. I have learned more about critical analysis and not worrying about the complexity of the wording. I have learned to make my writing more in depth and detailed, and more on task. The specificity of the seminar helped with this issue in my writing. I believe that because the topic was controversial, I also learned to choose my words wisely and carefully. I think that with a topic like race and social class it is also not unusual for someone’s opinions to be misunderstood. So, writing clearly and objectively is important. Throughout the semester the difficulty and complexity of the writing assignments increased. This forced me to become a better writer and thinker. These are skills that I can take with me and use throughout my college career and beyond. Overall, I learned and grew tremendously in this seminar not only as a student, but also as a person.