Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Experience At Bunker Hill Community College by Alexandria Paul

 ...... For the past five years I have taught a College Writing Seminar at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. Bunker Hill serves an inner-city, and multiethnic  population. Many of the students are older than traditional college students; many of the students are working full and part time jobs, and many will go on to four year institutions to continue their education. The college even offers midnight classes to accommodate the needs of this student population, and provides technical, nursing, and traditional liberal arts courses. Here is an essay from one of my students describing her first weeks in college.  ---Doug Holder

My Experience At Bunker Hill Community College
By Alexandria Paul

It has been two weeks since classes started and I already love college. Just the idea of finally being independent with no one on my back about my studies excites me when I wake up every morning. Unfortunately, high school for me was like being at the bottom of a swimming pool with my ankle tied to a plug in the drain. It was  hard to undo that hold authority had over me while I was just trying to gasp for independence. It’s a big shift going from a public high school where there are disciplinarians roaming the halls, waiting for a student to step out of class to question and chastise, versus college where the staff there treats you as the adult you present yourself to be.

 On the first day of classes I was excited. “Finally, I can really focus and fully immerse myself into everything it takes to become a great chef,” I thought to myself as I stepped out of the revolving doors of Bunker Hill. In that single moment I felt the happiest, because no one could touch me. But it wasn’t just the fact that I just gained the independence. Prior to school starting I made a very big life changing decision. In the last weeks of summer, while getting things ready for school, I thought  about what I really wanted to do with my life. I went through a mental game of tug of war trying to determine what I really wanted my future to be. 

I had already chosen my classes for psychology, set up my schedule and had everything set when it dawned on me. “You’ve loved cooking since you were a little girl. You are passionate about it and there are so many career opportunities in the food industry," I told myself. Taking a deep breath I sat down and questioned myself  about taking on multiple client’s problems in my role as a counselor.  I thought,  "Is this something I’m passionate about?"  For a long time I was stuck  between wanting to be a chef and wanting to be a therapist. It took me about a week to weigh out the pros and cons of both careers and come up with a solution. 

 I had an epiphany during that week and decided to go on ahead and change my major from Psychology to Culinary Arts. And so far it was one of the best decisions I could have made in my life. My first day in the kitchen was nerve racking. My chef, Chef Kelley, gave me a task and right on the spot I forgot what he told me to do. I just walked to a part of the kitchen where he couldn’t see me and helped out my colleagues with their tasks. I also forgot my notebook in the dining room twice, each time just standing there while he was talking and others were writing down his every word. It was like my confidence was dwindling away as I kept messing up. 

At the end of the day my chef ordered me and my classmates to clean the whole entire kitchen. We all went to work scrubbing the tiles of  the greasy kitchen floor.  We shined anything that was steel in the kitchen. And almost everything in that kitchen is made of steel.  I was extremely upset about how my first day played out. But I had to take a moment to think and remember why I choose this major and how much dedication would have to be put into this kind of career. I got it together and kept going. Even though my first time in the kitchen wasn’t what I had expected it to be I was happy that I made it past my first day.

The Friday of my first week I attended my College Writing Seminar for the first time. I really enjoyed it and the classmates that I met.  I felt like it’s a good group of people to be surrounded by. I can already tell that the class would have really good and interesting debates and discussions since everyone’s inputs and opinions are different. In the beginning of class my professor, Professor Holder, asked us a question about the Market Basket incident and if we sided with the workers or the management team.  I hadn't heard  about the dilemma that the Somerville  and  the greater community were having. But after I asked Professor Holder to give me the background info I was then able to choose a side (the workers) and joined the discussion.

In high school I was a part of the debate team and participated in numerous competitions. So whenever we have a debate or a Socratic seminar it was exciting for me to be able to share my thoughts and input on different topics. After my first English class I felt like maybe my high school did prepare me for college. I kind of had a secret fear for a while that I wasn’t going to make it in college. I felt like everything my high school taught me was so easy and the fact that graduates came back and told us that they weren’t prepared scared me even more. But it wasn’t until after surviving my first week that I knew I could mentally and physically handle everything college has to offer me, hard work included.

The weeks following things gradually got better. I got more control over my knife, started studying my knife cuts, and working on my English assignments every chance I got. Bunker Hill is just my starting point. I plan to transfer to a four year college–preferably Johnson and Wales- and get my Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts. Nevertheless, I’m glad that I picked Bunker Hill as my base because my experience so far has been great ever since I made the decision to change my major. 

Paul has been writing since  she was very young. On Saturday afternoons during her free time she would sit with the computer at home and write novels (Science Fiction, Non-fiction, fiction). If she wasn't on the computer she was writing  in a notebook. Reading has always been one of her hobbies. Paul loves to read for fun but hated being forced to read. It was something about reading and writing that  has always sparked her interests.

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