As I think back to the beginning of the semester, one of the most valuable and powerful tools that has resonated with me is the importance of the process of doing research. I have learned about the intense experience it can sometimes be, and how to be patient and persistent. As the papers have passed, each one has, I believe, richer and richer because of the continuous growth of my research skills. In the beginning, I was so overwhelmed with what I had to do that I would procrastinate and sigh and feel frustrated. Now, I dive in headfirst, actually excited about what I will find. The idea “circumlocating” around the topic once seemed impossible, now it seems necessary. I have found a lot of satisfaction in my ability to research and then form an argument out of a lot of bits and pieces that took true time and effort to find. I am now able to think more deeply, make connections, and take chances. I do not think that before this class I had a true chance to make something out of “nothing.” The sort of research and writing process we have done has allowed me to push myself and become more confident in my own brain.

Besides the information I have gleaned from research, the readings in class have also allowed me to think more deeply and uniquely about my topics. When I finally have most of my thesis, the class readings have allowed me to kick my paper up a notch quality wise. Because we have talked about the readings in depth, and I have such a good grasp on them, I am able to integrate the information in a refined way. Whenever I have gotten stuck on a paper, it has always been a reading that has gotten me out of the rut. It is satisfying to be able to connect the two aspects of the class. Though it is still hard for me to write my paper in a way that is more sophisticated, as far as organizing my evidence, I have grown a lot, and I think I am stronger writer now. I have loved being able to look at readings and research from different lenses, and the whole process is less scary. It has been difficult, but worth it.