Here is my writing from two of my college classes and The Rattler.

The Rattler

Click on the title to read the whole article on page 11 of Issuu.

How students can take advantage of a longer winter break

Compared to previous semesters, this semester has both looked and functioned differently. A prime example of these changes is that Labor Day was the only day off for students, without a mid-semester break to relax and unwind. Additionally, students will not meet after Thanksgiving for final exams, rather final exams will end the day before Thanksgiving. Thus, winter break will be longer than normal. In total, winter break will span 55 days with classes resuming on Jan. 20. What that in mind, here are some plans students can make to take advantage of the long academic hiatus.

Advanced Composition

The Second Marshmallow

If I could use one word to describe myself today, it would be futuristic. I always look ahead and envision the life that I want to have. However, that was not the case three years ago.

My first day of junior year had me feeling anxious. With ACT, AP, and IB, I was feeling overwhelmed. I never thought that I could overcome all of those challenges because I never visualized the end result of accomplishing it all. I could not see myself leaving high school and going to college since the process seemed like too much for me. My mindset changed when I walked into my last class that first day of school and was greeted by Mr. Swaringen.

He came in and stood before a background displaying images of graduates and started lecturing. “Here at IDEA McAllen, we make college graduates! Not college dropouts, college graduates!” Mr. Swaringen then showed statistics on his PowerPoint of how most Hispanics do not have a college degree and told us that we were going to change those percentages.

 The excitement and motivation from his voice and face gave me hope for the future. I realized how willing he was to help us get to our first finish line: high school graduation.

I remember the day he taught us delayed gratification. He showed us a video of the marshmallow test. In the video, children were given one marshmallow and were told that if they did not touch the marshmallow, then they would be given a second one. If they touched the marshmallow, then they would not be awarded with a second marshmallow. He connected the video to our journey towards graduation by saying we should not take the easy way out of life, and to visualize the end product. “Wait for the second marshmallow. Visualize in two years walking up on stage and receiving your diploma.”

Mr. Swaringen then showed us a jar filled with marshmallows in his classroom. He told us that those marshmallows would stay there till we graduate high school. Every time I entered his classroom, I saw the marshmallows slowly transition to a grey color in the foggy jar. As disgusting it looked, they were a reminder to never give up during the most challenging moments of life and symbolized our big reward.

Then he taught us the poem, “Invictus.” One thing that stuck by me was the last two lines of the poem, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” He connected it to us again by saying that whatever happens during the following two years, it would be up to each of us to make the most of it.

That poem motivated me my junior and senior year. It made me believe in myself when I would study and take an exam. My belief in myself was cemented when I found out he would be my senior year teacher. He is part of the reason why I am studying English Communications. He made me realize that journalism is the right path for me after saying I was, “hungry for knowledge.”

Thinking back to Mr. Swaringen’s class three years ago, I realize how much I have grown as a person. I am now a futuristic person. I know what I want my future to look like and I am going to work hard to make it happen. I am aware that I will encounter obstacles but I just have to visualize the two marshmallow and say, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”

Rhetoric and Composition

The Unfortunate yet Deserved Absence

I tiredly entered my moms car after school one day. She proceeded to ask me about my day and my foot. The day before, I had been bitten by tiny little ants on my right foot. Being allergic to the venom of various insects, I panicked and quickly removed them. Back in the car, I told my mom that my right foot was hurting a lot and I took off my socks and shoes. We immediately saw that my right foot was twice the size of my left foot. My mom panicked and quickly drove me to the ER. After visiting with the doctor, he prescribed different pills for me to take. He then told my mom and I that I would be fine. However, the doctor then uttered the words that haunted the nerd inside of me: You are going to have to stay home tomorrow.

I never liked missing school because I always wanted to be on track with my academics. Since I was going to miss a day of school, I knew that I was going to be lost and off track when I would return. My parents knew that I was feeling blue about staying home but they told me that it would be good to recuperate and relax all day. They also said that they had a surprise planned for me for the following day. I was already utterly drained and exhausted, so I went to my bedroom extremely early, not looking forward to staying home the following day.

The next day came, and I realized that I had slept in and I enjoyed it, surprisingly. On a school day, I typically awoke at 5:30 yet on this day, I woke up at 9:30. I thought to myself that if I was in school, I would be in Mr. Ferguson’s math class. I was also thinking about my peers and was wondering if they cared that I was missing out for the first time or if they just moved on with their lives. After I stopped thinking about school, I got out of bed so that I could get some breakfast. Lost in my thoughts, I forgot about my allergic reaction so I put my right foot on the floor and the pain exploded through my whole leg. I yelled out and uttered some words to myself. It felt like my right foot was being poked by thousands of tiny pins and had excess weight added onto it. After taking deep breaths and coping with the pain, I then realized I smelled chorizo cooking. I assumed that I was home alone so I slowly hobbled to the kitchen and saw my grandma. She was the surprise that my parents had for me.

Seeing my grandma brought a big smile on my face because I love my grandma very much. I said good morning to her and she said it back to me and in addition, gave me a big hug. She told me that she was making chorizo and potato tacos for me and that this was my day to recover from my allergic reaction. She directed me to the living room and she had the TV on for me and a pile of pillows stacked highly so that I could raise my right foot. She told me to get comfortable and I plopped myself on the comfy couch and put my right foot on the pile of pillows. My grandma then put a fuzzy blanket on me and gave me the remote. I was able to find Spongebob and enjoyed a couple of episodes. After relaxing on the comfy couch and watching Spongebob instead of being in a classroom, I was starting to get comfortable with the idea of staying home. Then my grandma came back with 3 homemade flour tortillas filled with chorizo and potato with a smearing of cream cheese, a hot coffee, and my pills. This was the highlight of my day. Being served one of my favorite breakfast meals while relaxing at home was much more agreeable than I had imagined. I was enjoying my day even though my right foot was still irritating me.

I was able to finish all of my tacos and even took a nap after that. I woke up and felt a new level of relaxed. I quickly removed the fuzzy blanket and saw that my right foot was still twice the size of my left foot but overall, I was feeling pleased. I then left the comfy couch to grab my backpack and start on my homework. I took my first couple of steps and my right foot still felt like thousands of pins were pushing in it and it was still heavy. My grandma saw me walking and yelled out my name: Courtney Jean Peña! I got scared and I quickly turned around to look at her and saw irritation on her face. She asked me why I was walking and I told her that I had to get my backpack to do my work. My grandma then got after at me, not only for walking but for wanting to do homework instead of recovering. She sent me back to the comfy couch with the piles of pillows and I got back into my previous position. To me, it seemed like she tucked the fuzzy blanket tightly so that I would not escape the comfy couch. I was a little frustrated at my grandma for not letting me do my homework but then I slowly began to realize that I deserved to give myself a break in life. I did not have to be working on school assignments all the time. This was the day that I followed my grandma’s advice and truly relaxed on a school day.

I kept watching Spongebob and my grandma came to me with my lunch: A bowl of chicken noodle soup with crackers and some water. I was able to enjoy my hot soup on the cold day and after that, my dad came home. My dad thanked my grandma for taking care of me and then they checked my foot. The swelling was going away, which was an improvement, but it still looked liked I needed more time to recover. So, I stayed on the comfy couch for the rest of the day. Later, my grandma came to me and I gave her a goodbye hug. I thanked her for taking care of me and for making me realize that I should give myself a break sometimes. As she hugged me, she whispered that the next time I had to miss school, I should just be ecstatic with the fact that I would be staying home.

Which piece was your favorite? I like them all, but if I had to pick one, it would be The Second Marshmallow. Comment down below your favorite!

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