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Fidel Bazaldua

Professor Grant
University Writing 1101
10 September 2014
Literacy Vignettes
The most distinct event that I can remember that really influenced me to become literate
was when my dad and I used to lay together in bed and imagine gadgets and machines as I fell
asleep. They were both wacky and theoretical but they would be useful in our society. I really
learned a lot from observing my dad as a child when he went to work and came back at the end
of the day, and with virtually no help from any outside source, he made ends meet and more just
so that we could live a life of comfort according to my standards.
Through his hard work and dedication I derived many of the values, morals, and ethics
that I now live by to this day. Growing up, I saw my father face many challenges that I thought
would surely tear him down but in the end it was thanks to him that my family kept going. My
father was the one maintaining my family financially, but I would be remiss not to acknowledge
my mother. She made sure her children had the education that she and my father never had.
I remember specifically when I was in the first grade and I had a writing assignment that
I didnt really care about so I decided that I would do it in five minutes and I wrote as sloppy and
as fast as I could because I didnt really care. When my mom saw what I had written she just
took the piece of paper and tore it in half and told me that she would continue ripping my work if
I didnt write legibly and with care. I was furious at the time that I had to redo an assignment
which I didn't really care for. It wasn't until later years that I appreciated the tough love my
mother had given me when my peers and teachers took notice of my legible handwriting. I
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realized that it was important to become literate in everything that could help me later in my life.
I idealized the idea of becoming completely self-sustainable in any form such as through the
education in school or the education outside of school. I really started to realize this around the
time that I had a class called Earth and Environmental Science with a teacher called Mr. Timothy
Adams.
Mr. Adams always encouraged critical thinking but in a form that I had never really heard
before. The way he explained critical thinking and how it worked in our day and age was as
follows verbatim: critical thinking is to Think about your thinking while you're thinking to
make your thinking better. I was really confounded at first by this revolutionary idea but I later
used this motto in every one of my classes be it math, science, history, or even physical
education. In this class we were forced to think outside and reinvent our concept of the box.
This class really introduced me to the idea of learning from generations before me.
I had never thought of history as important because it was not relevant currently to me.
Little did I know that it actually was, but not in the form of a textbook. Through literature such as
Atlas shrugged, and Tom Browns: Case Files of the Tracker. The next year the infamous Mr.
Adams switched from teaching Earth and Environmental Science to teaching an entirely new
curriculum imposed on our school through a class called Global Impact. I thought taking his
science class was daunting but it was nothing compared to the concepts that I learned in this
class. I started small by learning to make connections between what I learned in one class and
applying it across the board to my other classes. Another concept that I learned was that of the
Fourteen Grand Challenges of Engineering, which I had never heard of before. Presented with
the Grand Challenges made me realize I had been oblivious to obvious global connections. Some
of those connections being the need for sustainable energy and clean water globally for everyone.
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These grand challenges really reinforced my desire to become an engineer and contribute to
generations to come. Also around this time I had another professor who really piqued my interest
in reading literature. He was my British literature teacher, Professor Nickolaus Katsiadas.
Entering his class I was really disinterested in reading any form of literature other than
the short stories and books I had to read for classes. When I came in to his class every Monday,
Wednesday, and Friday and we discussed the readings he had assigned I found myself really
involved in the discussion. We discussed all the possible meanings of Una going to visit the
seven friars or Beowulfs last battle with the dragon and the implications of his hubris on the
moral of the story. I learned that you can discern a deeper meaning in the text if you are willing
to look deeper than the words put there by the author. The realization that the words written on a
page could give insight to the feelings of a population at a certain time was astounding. The final
value that I derived from Professor Katsiadas class was to apply myself. If I applied myself I
knew I would be able to find purpose in everything I do. In this class we started with a class size
of approximately thirty students and by the end of the semester we were left with only eleven
and out of those eleven I was one of the top in my class. I was really proud of myself and this
really motivated me to read works of literature that I would have otherwise discarded as boring
or dull. Reading through all sorts of literature I stumbled across a book titled Atlas Shrugged by
Ayn Rand.
As of then I had only been reading books with a story line with little or no concepts that I
hadnt already culminated. It was refreshing to read a novel with a deeper yet literal meaning
such as the one I found in Atlas Shrugged. I found myself really agreeing and pulling parallels
from the book to current situations in my life as well as the society I live in. As I read the book it
put my mind in turmoil over what type of person I was and would become. At this point I came
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to the realization that I was applying concepts from Rands book to my personal life. I decided I
would rely primarily on myself, I would work hard for everything I wanted, and I would fight for
a society where freedom of thought is upheld. Becoming an objectivist really turned my way of
thinking upside down since before I didnt have the slightest idea what moral or ethical code I
lived by. The one thing I did live by was self-gratification through entertainment and never
working for it. Working for something I wanted and attaining it through merit instead of award
was really gratifying. I decided that anything that I wanted in my life I would have to earn if I
ever wanted to feel accomplished. I paid more attention in classes, to detail from concept to
concept. I started to apply what I had learned in one class to another. My reasoning skills from
Math I transferred to Biology; what I learned in Biology, I applied personally to myself and to
my thought process. The ideas from Rands work really revolutionized the way I did everything.
Everything is connected to something else that I know I will need later in life. The only instances
in which I was discouraged from becoming literate were in any class where my writing was
conformed to a certain way. I hated the idea that I was being forced to write in a certain way and
to think about writing in a certain way. All through my school years I have hated being confined
to one way of doing things, since there are a vast amount of ways to do anything more efficiently
and better.
An example of this is my semester in a Civics course I had to take in high school where
my teacher was so involved in our process of thinking and taking notes that he actually set out a
template for writing in our own journals. Every day we were to come in, correctly follow the
template set out for us and be subjected to a double standard of critical review. For example if I
said something in one way and one of my classmates said essentially the same thing in a different
but arguably the same way, we were graded differently based on a rubric of his own discretion. I
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felt so oppressed that my interest in learning anything in that class was outweighed by my desire
to rebel.
In the end I would have to accredit my literacy to those who were with me every step of
the way, such as my family, and my teachers who helped me grow academically and morally.
Also to the giants who came before like Tycho Briar, Sir Isaac Newton, Aristotle, and
Copernicus. Finally I would have to accredit my literacy to myself since it is I who will be
continuing the infinite process of becoming literate.