Cover letter

I’ve always had trouble writing; it started when I was very little. As I progressed through high school the difficulty got worse. It could be slightly because I didn’t really try. I actually took my Junior English twice because I failed to submit my final research paper which made me flunk. I have a habit of forgetting the correct words to use, and often just stare at my paper trying to figure it out, then end up forgetting what I’m even trying to accomplish. I suffered from that in my English 101 class also. This is my first semester at BCC, or at college in general, so I had absolutely no clue what to expect. I remember on my first day of class, Holly Pappas told us we would be submitting a portfolio for other English professors to read. That made me very nervous. Not only was this my first class ever as a college student, but now I knew I had to share my writing with professors other than my own, and had to share it on my blog with my other colleagues. I overcame my fears, did my work, and now here I am!

My first essay I am submitting is my memoir called “Seaside Platter.” This was the first essay I wrote in this class, and probably my favorite. In my eyes, I feel as if I am a stronger writer when what I am writing about has no research and works cited involved. My focus was persistence. You will read how frustrating it was for me to finish my seaside platter I created in my ceramics class when I attended Dartmouth High School. I tried to bring in the reader to feel my frustration and make it so as if the reader was in my shoes by adding as much description and scenery as I could.  I chose to submit this essay because I think it shows my ability as a writer to play out the story like a movie in the readers head. I struggled in the beginning to remember exact details, but I managed to pull it together and create my memoir.

My second submission is my annotation essay. In this essay I chose to write about Alzheimer’s Disease. I made up some questions regarded the disease and researched them to find the answer. I learned numerous facts and hope to teach you a thing or two. I work at an assisted living so this topic was close to home, since I see these elderly more than I see my own family. Now this essay was much different than my memoir essay, and had lots of research and studying. I struggled on the in-text citations because I sometimes write information down on a piece of paper and I forget to write where I got it from, so I then have to retrace my steps and find the original source. This essay helped me with my research process and I feel that after I wrote this essay, I was a tad more comfortable with researching.

My third, and thankfully last submission is my research paper titled, “Paid Paternity Leave.” This was an argumentative research paper that I found very interesting to write since have a two year old boy at home. I always find it easier to write about something you find interesting and wish to know more about. I did much reading and learning throughout this project, that I will be able to take with me for years to come. I learned how to search with different databases, and how to pick out the credible sources, and the, not-so-credible sources.

After my journey through English 101, I found myself as a writer. I also learned it is not bad to ask questions, and if anything, I should ask as many questions as I can. Use your time sparingly and do not procrastinate. That makes it that much more likely that you will disregard your work and never finish. Holly Pappas taught me that. I am glad to say that my attitude towards writing has changed, for the better, and I look forward to broadening my knowledge. Thank you very much.

Seaside platter (essay 1)

“I can’t finish it in time!” I told Mrs. Brunette as I walked away from her desk in frustration. No one was in the classroom, but what student would be on a Saturday morning? I had to finish my seaside platter before the Art Show, no matter what, even if that meant going to school on the weekend while my teacher decorated and finished up last minute planning for the Art Show. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed sculpting and creating different pieces with clay, the dirt and dust flying all over the place, making the room seem as if we never cleaned it, although we needed to sweep before we left class, but there’s something about having a deadline to finish something that you wanted the overall product to be perfect, that just didn’t mix well with me.

We had to enter three things into the Art Show, and I had two. I took my time in everything I put work into. Making this platter wasn’t easy, especially everyday before our hour and a half class ended, we needed to cover our clay piece with a damp towel. Not too wet or the clay would be too moist to do anything to it the next day, and if you didn’t put enough water on the towel, your piece could dry out and crack, which would cause complications, and wasting a whole school class on nothing. It seemed as if everyone had five or six pieces done and ready to enter into the show. Then there was me, sitting in the corner, sculpting tools, and paper towels scattered around the surface of the table, in my own world. There was always something in my way of finishing the platter in a timely manner. Whether it was because I wrapped it in towels that were too wet, or because maybe I just simply chose to make something that there was no fast way to do it.

The process of creating anything in pottery class, was sculpting it, putting it in the kiln, painting it, putting it in the kiln for a second time. A kiln is a very hot “oven” that went up to 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The kiln process took up to 24 hours, backing up the fact that everything in pottery was a tedious process, never mind the fact that when you stepped foot in the kiln room for a mere five seconds, your body would break out into a sweat. The idea in my head for my platter was tan, warm looking sand all over the lip and half of the platter, with a patch of large blue waves, footsteps walking along side the lip, and beautiful, colorful seashells splattered in every which direction. Mrs. Brunette said there was multiple different steps, in just sculpting my platter that would take some time, like making my own stamp, to create the footprint appearance, never mind all the steps after the sculpting process. I decided to take it on.

Two weeks of class went by, and I was still trying to make it perfect, which I should mention that it should only take 2 weeks at most, to create a finished product. I was sitting in class, the still malleable clay sitting in front of me. Every single grand of sand I put on my 14 inch platter had to be hand made with a needle. My hand felt as if it was my own personal sewing machine, taking on a small patch of the platter at a time. I would get cramps all throughout my hand and fingers, making it impossible to keep going, until I shook out my hand.  Who would have ever thought, making sand on clay would be this tedious? It was my third day working on the sand, sadly, I felt as if I would never finish. Maybe I chose too big of a mold to use, or a too time consuming project, in the short amount of time I had left before the Art Show was here. All these thought were running threw my head, I felt as if I was going to explode. I looked up, trying to put my eyes somewhere other than at my table. The air was hot around me. I saw another student’s work on the right of me, and it looked perfect, the expression on her face was as if she didn’t even try. I look to the left of me, where another student had ear buds in his ears, moving his head to the music. Sometimes they just took this class to take up a credit. I look back down at my platter, with frustration. Mrs. Brunette noticed. “Sarah you will be fine, you have plenty of time to finish, you dedicated too much of your time to let this platter go.” She was right, finally at the end of my third day putting the tiny little dots into the clay, I was done with the sand. Such a silly thing, but I felt as if I just accomplished something magnificent and huge in my life. The processes following this day was a piece of cake.

I was taking my finished product out of the kiln for the second time, and the smile on my face must have gone from ear to ear. It was beautiful, just was I was expecting. The color of the sand and shells, meshed perfectly, and the texture of the waves made it look like you were actually there, watching the waves crash down onto the sand itself. I was ecstatic. Entering my platter into the Art Show felt wonderful, I was confident I would win something. The day after the show, I came to find out I won first place in “Sculpture.” There were different categories the judges could judge you in. My hard work paid off, and it really showed. I am so happy I didn’t give up on my platter, and start something new that I could just throw together in a day, and enter into the Art Show. My dedication just proves, to never give up on something you want.

Alzheimer’s disease (essay 3)

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, which causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior (Alzheimer’s Assoc.). Dementia is a set of symptoms that can include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem solving and language. The disease is named after the doctor who first described it, Alois Alzheimer in 1906 (Alzheimer’s Society). During the course of this disease, proteins build up and forms structures called plaques and tangles, which leads to the loss of connections between nerve cells and eventually the death of the nerve cells and loss of brain tissue. The disease also kills important chemicals that help transmit signals around the brain. It is a progressive disease, meaning it gradually gets worse as time goes on.

 What are the symptoms and treatments of Alzheimer’s?

The most common sign of Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss. There is seven stages to Alzheimer’s, with each stage the symptoms worsen. It starts off with little or no memory loss (10 Early Signs). The person may believe they are forgetting familiar words and places, but no signs of any type of dementia to friends or family. Sooner or later their loved ones see a change in mental status and should seek medical help (Stages). By this point they should be at stage 4 or 5, which is when they are unable to determine what day it is, or certain phone numbers, but still need no assistance with eating or using the toilet (Stages). The words they are trying to say may not come to mind and can’t make their own decisions. Once they hit stage 7, the final stage, they lose ability to control movement and hold a conversation.  At this point they need help with almost all of their daily activity and have trouble smiling, swallowing, sitting without support and holding their head up (Stages). Other than memory loss, an individual with this disease will wonder, not knowing where they are going, and also have mood swings on a daily basis. They distrust others and become delusional, such as thinking their belongings have been stolen, or seeing a passed loved one walk into the room (Stages).

How is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed?

If an individual has concerns of memory loss or any other symptoms of Alzheimer’s they should seek medical help. Multiple tests will be taken to determine if someone has Alzheimer’s disease. A physician will do a mental status test, a physical and neurological exam, blood tests and brain imaging (Diagnosis). Early diagnosing of Alzheimer’s can benefit in many ways; like being able to plan out the future, and being able to participate in decisions about your future care, transportation, living options and financial matters. Although researchers thought there was little we could do to prevent the disease, recent studies show you can reduce your risk by eating healthy, exercising, staying active and keeping stress in check (Diagnosis). Once diagnosed, an individual with Alzheimer’s is expected to live 8 to 10 years after the symptoms start to manifest (News-Medical).

What is available for people with Alzheimer’s?

Special help is available for individuals with Alzheimer’s. Adult day care, which the person would spend the day with other elderly sharing the same disease, and even special housing, such as assisted livings. Assisted living helps the individual cope with their disease and have medical staff at their access, along with brain activities to keep their brain working at it’s best. Someone with mild dementia may not need that full assistance and may have a caregiver come for a couple hours to help with taking medication, or just for companionship. The Hogeweyk village is a special village in the Netherlands created for Alzheimer’s patients (Amazing Village). The village looks like any normal village at a first glance, with housing and small shops, and caregivers at ever corner, dressed in regular clothing so they don’t stand out.

What is the cost, on average, of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease?

Although many would assume that Medicare and Medicaid would cover the tab for the treatments for an Alzheimer’s patient, but sadly they are very wrong. A private room in a nursing home costs on average $82,000 a year (How to Cut). An assisted living for an individual is around $55,000, and the price, per hour, for an unskilled home care assistant is $21 (How to Cut). The right time to apply for medicaid is about five years before the individual would need help. Medicaid won’t cover the cost for an unskilled worker, or an assisted living, which most Alzheimer’s patients need, but they will pay for most of, or even all of the cost of a nursing home (How to Cut).  A veteran or a child of a veteran can also get financial help.

Works Cited:

“Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia | Alzheimer’s Association.” Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia | Alzheimer’s Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

“Alzheimer’s Disease Questions.” N.p., 27 July 2009. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

“Amazing Village Built Exclusively For People With Dementia.” Earth Porm. N.p., 11 Mar. 2015. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

“Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s & Dementia | Alzheimer’s Association.”Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s & Dementia | Alzheimer’s Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

“How to Cut the Caregiving Costs of Alzheimer’s Disease.” How to Cut the Caregiving Costs of Alzheimer’s Disease. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

“Memory Loss & 10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s | Alzheimer’s Association.”Memory Loss & 10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s | Alzheimer’s Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

“Stages of Alzheimer’s & Symptoms | Alzheimer’s Association.” Stages of Alzheimer’s & Symptoms | Alzheimer’s Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

“What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?” Alzheimers Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

Paid paternity leave (essay 4)

Paternity leave, good or bad? Recent studies show positive outcomes to the father-child relationships, during and after paternity leave. Although most fathers are aware that the leave is healthy for their relationship, many do not take one after their new bundle of joy comes into the world, for many different reasons. Some fathers feel ashamed to take a leave; it makes them feel like the mother and father roles are reversed and emasculates them. Also the fathers’ job may not pay for paternity leave which some families can not afford financially. Mother’s receive paid maternity leave if the place of employment offers it, but why not fathers? If a father is a primary caregiver, he should also be allowed paid paternity leave when his newborn is born.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year (Leave Benefits). Now although the FMLA isn’t gender specific, and men could benefit from this Act, many don’t. Even though FMLA provides job-protected leave, some employers do not follow this. Some men who have taken leave after a child birth, had long term effects on his career, like lower pay, or even being passed over for promotions just because he took his legal leave of absence (Miller). With that being said, many new fathers fear to loose out on job opportunities, so decide to take very little, or no leave at all. So the challenge is not only to persuade employers to offer the pay with no disciplinary action, but also to persuade men to take it.

Some companies, like Ernst & Young, offer six weeks paid paternity leave. A certain man, Todd Bedrick, took the full amount to his advantage. He says that within those six weeks, he learned numerous things about caring for a newborn (Miller). He learned to lull the baby to sleep on his chest and develop a system to thaw his wife’s frozen breast milk to feed his little one. He states, “The best part was forming a bond. Had I not had that time with her, I don’t think I’d feel as close to her as I do today.” Social scientists have said that men who take an early, hands on, role in their children’s lives are more likely to be involved for years to come and that their children would be healthier (Miller). The genius of paternity leave is that it shapes domestic and parenting habits as they are forming (Mundy). With all of the amazing outcomes that appear when father’s take a paternity leave, and how involved the fathers get with their child, the government should be allowing paid leave, and possibly more father’s would take the leave.

Fathers who take a paternity leave would also benefit mothers. Studies showed that when the father took the leave, the mother’s were more likely to receive increased career earnings and decreased chance of postpartum depression, which many mothers suffer with (Miller). Mothers who go to work, still have the same responsibilities as a mother who doesn’t return to work after their leave, but they feel less stressed out about it all. Taking care of a newborn is a lot of time and energy, and most importantly patience. Mother’s who can share the responsibilities with the father make it that much less stressful on her. The only way this can happen is if father’s take the paternity leave that their job supplies to them. Making the paternity leave paid, would not only help out the family, but persuade men to take it. Evolving roles of men and women could eventually change workplace culture. If more women play the breadwinner role, and more men ask for family-friendly policies, it could become harder for employers to treat them differently based on gender (Miller).

Even with the FMLA set in stone, most employers discourage men to take leave. Ernst & Young is a company that is the exact opposite. In 2004 they changed their paid paternity leave from two weeks to six weeks (Miller).  Not all companies are like that though. About 1/3 of men report that they had no option to take a leave, paid or not, for the birth of a child (Miller). Even with the Act in the handbook, men were still given a hard time to take paternity leave. In 2002, California became the first U.S. state to guarantee six weeks of paid leave for both mothers and fathers, with New Jersey and Rhode Island to follow (Mundy).  Some states are already taking the lead to making leave paid. In 2007, a study found that 60% of professional women who had to stop working reported that they were largely motiviated by their husbands who couldn’t share the housework and child care, because they never had their bonding time they should have had when their child was born (Mundy).  Other than the United States, countries like Sweden and Germany have, at times, offered women more than a year of maternity leave because of the fact that men couldn’t handle the father role (Mundy). Knowing this, Norway, Ireland, Germany and many other countries offered a variety of incentives to nudge men to take leave. Some offered more money, which made men feel that they were financially supporting their families even when they were at home (Mundy). If only the United States would follow in their foot steps.

Seeing all the various outcomes from having fathers take a paternity leave, companies should be offering paid paternity leave. It not only helps out the new families but also creates an amazing bond between the newborn and father, which many father’s lack. The stereotype “dead beat dad” could be wiped out of existence after all fathers were able to take a paid paternity leave and bond with their child.


Works Cited

Miller, Claire Cain. “Paternity Leave: The Rewards and the Remaining Stigma.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 08 Nov. 2014. Web. 02 May 2015.

“Leave Benefits.” U.S. Department of Labor. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2015.

Mundy, Liza. “Daddy Track: The Case for Paternity Leave.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 22 Dec. 2013. Web. 01 May 2015.