Eagles Write! 2013 Student Nominee Profiles


Jesse Bass, Sophomore, Biochemistry
"Love Drunk" 

Essay Summary: A personal reflection of a past event in my life. In hindsight the lessons were not what I perceived them to be and one simple decision impacted three lives drastically.

Writing Process: It seemed like the obvious option. A story about love, loss, and a friendship to rise and last for years to come. It reminded me of a box office hit and it was a 100% true story about how I met the closest friend I will probably ever have. I would feel accomplished if a single reader would think twice the next time they are about to take an irrational dive into a commitment that seems good at face value. I would like readers to take a step back and imagine what could be at a later date, not what could be 5 minutes from now. We live in a world dominated by instant gratification and I think it would benefit the masses to widen their perspectives a bit.

Excerpt: "Later in the summer, Dustin came back and they returned to their lives as if nothing had happened between Nicole and I.  But as I was well aware and Dustin soon found out, she was not the type of girl to be tied down to one faithful guy.  Through a fiery blaze of high school drama, Dustin and Nicole ended their one-year relationship and got over each other in record time.  Thanks to band, I saw her every day, but we never really spoke after that summer.  Dustin knew whole and well what his former love and I had done and we fought like gladiators through Facebook messages to the point where we had nothing to fight about anymore.  Somewhere in the cloud of curse words, threats and insults directed at uninvolved mothers, we realized we had at least two things in common. We both hated Nicole, and we both loved tennis.  It took some time, but we eventually revisited the same court from that ridiculously cold night and began a tradition.  We played tennis for eight hours that day and thought nothing of it."


Haleigh Bradley, Sophomore, Speech Pathology
"Red Velvet Cake" 

Essay Summary: My essay "Red Velvet Cake" vividly describes how cake is also a story of a long-lasting tradition. Christmas afternoon lunch has been a winter custom that links my family to my grandparent’s home in rural South Carolina. Red velvet cake is something that has always and will always define who I am, because it is a tradition that defines my family. It offers a sense of long lasting tradition that ties me to my family during the Christmas holidays. My essay is about how a single recipe connects me to a lifetime of Christmas memories, binds me to rural South Carolina, and ties me to my loving family.

Writing Process: Red velvet cake immediately came to mind when I was instructed to consider how food choices and my relationship to food has shaped my identity. I thought of my family, more specifically my grandmother, as I considered the connection between red velvet cake, my family traditions, and my identity. My essay stands out to me because of it's imagery. Reading it brings me back to Christmas afternoon with ease. I would like the reader to consider how food has shaped their identity and made them the person that they are.

Excerpt: "On Christmas Eve, my grandmother pulls out her cluttered recipe collection from the cabinet above her rusty, gas stovetop. She gently sets it on the laminate countertop in front of me as her petite frame scurries throughout the kitchen in search of the necessary ingredients…Into the electric mixer, I help my grandmother pour the powdery flour, thick buttercream, and dusty cocoa into the stainless steel bowl. After plugging it into the outlet, the mixer begins to hum as it folds the ingredients into each other with ease. My grandmother hands me three large eggs to crack into the bowl... My grandmother aligns three, thin cake pans on the counter as the oven beings to hum at the perfect three hundred fifty-degree temperature. I detach the silver bowl from the mixer and evenly distribute the dense, thick batter into the pans. The mixture effortlessly glides off of the bowl as I tilt it and imitates the round shape of the pans. My grandmother lowers the oven’s heavy, substantial door and slides the pans one by one onto the warm oven rack."


Katelyn Daniels, Sophomore, Psychology
"The Truth about Homeschooling" 

Essay Summary: This essay was about the benefits of homeschooling. I brought to light some things that people generally overlook or do not know when it comes to homeschooling children. Most people think negatively when that idea is proposed, but they do not really know the truth about it. I attempted to expose what is true and what is just stereotypical nonsense.

Writing Process: Most people don't really know the benefits of homeschooling children. They only know the stereotypical things that you see in movies of hear from people who don't really know much about it. After hearing the opinions of some students in my class about it, I thought that I should do my research and prove that the pros outweigh the cons. I know a few people who are homeschooled personally and they are some of the smartest people I know. I dug up some statistics and did some research to try and prove my point on homeschooling and I hope that my audience will read my essay and come out with a different viewpoint. I am not attempting to persuade them to homeschool their children, I just want them to understand that homeschooling is a very good option and that the stereotypes they hear are not what they seem.

Excerpt: "Individuality is developed all throughout grade school and homeschooling allows children to choose their own path without the pressure of their peers.  Homeschooling removes most peer pressure and allows the child to develop their own morals and become whatever kind of person they want to become without other children influencing their decisions.  Many children in public schools have made decisions based on their peers instead of what they believe, and some of those decisions have changed their lives completely…   While learning in the comfort of their own home children will not be afraid to study too much and be called a “nerd”, or not understand a lesson and have to go over it again and be called “stupid.” They won’t have to worry about friends tempting them to skip class and go to McDonald’s instead or to go to a party instead of studying for a big exam tomorrow."  


Landon Drennon, Sophomore, Child Development
"Ban Smoking on USM's Campus"

Essay Summary: I wrote a letter to the president of the University of Southern Mississippi. My proposal was to ban smoking on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi . Our campus is not among the many universities across the country that have already banned smoking on campus. I hoped to convince Dr. Bennett to establish an 100 percent smoke free policy on campus.

Writing Process: I chose my topic because I do not like smoking or being around second-hand smoke. Since we know that smoking is deadly, I believe nobody should have to be exposed to this cancer producing product. Therefore, I researched the effects of smoking and decided what I wanted to say. I attended the Writing Center, received feedback from my English group in class, and had other people read my rough drafts.

My proposal essay does a nice job explaining the facts about why the University of Southern Mississippi should become a smoke free campus. I want the reader to understand that in order to protect all students on campus that the university should join the other thousands of campuses that have already banned smoking on campus.

Excerpt: "Students should not have to walk through a cloud of smoke to get to class. I personally have walked through students’ smoking on campus by the Math Zone and on the sidewalks while walking from Century Park to the Liberal Arts Building. Even though, USM has designated areas, the students do not adhere to the rules. I have never seen anyone in authority say anything to these students about not smoking in the proper places. This infringes on my right to breathe clean air and keep healthy lungs. Second hand smoke is deadly, and no non-smoker should have to be exposed to this harmful product. Secondhand smoke is highly dangerous and has been linked to many forms of cancer. Some forms include lung cancer, cancers of the larynx, pharynx, brain, stomach, breast, and bladder. Research has shown that the secondhand particles can settle on surfaces and remain there for a long period of time (Second Hand Smoke). No student should ever be exposed to a product that is known to cause illnesses that can result in death.


Ellyn Dunbar, Sophomore, Biochemistry
"Talk Chemistry to Me" 

Essay Summary: "Talk Chemistry to Me" is an autobiographical essay recounting a pivotal moment in my life. This moment changed my whole perspective on where I was in life. Life changing events often occur in the most unlikely places and times.

Writing Process: There were several different defining moments in my life I could have written about to satisfy my Composition 101 assignment; however, this perspective defined me the most. I am who I am because I was home schooled, so naturally a change of perspective about being home schooled was major. 

This was my first college essay, I wanted to make my English tutor, Mrs. Joyce, proud. Her instruction is what has influenced my writing more than anything, she taught me how to write and I cannot thank her enough. 

Surprisingly enough, my favorite thing about my essay was my professor's, Jeffrey MacLachlan, reaction when I brought him the rough draft. I expected him to find all kinds of problems and make changes everywhere, but he did not. He liked my writing style, knowing that made writing the rest of my essays much less stressful.

This essay is a glimpse at a major chapter of my story. A chapter that was changed by one little sentence, just a little sentence. Don't ignore the sentence that will change your life.

Excerpt: "Before I started any curriculum, I took placement tests that were designed to show what grade level I was mentally capable of learning on. I took them to see how far ahead I could skip without being completely overwhelmed. The placement tests showed that I could learn on a twelfth grade level, even though I only had half a fifth grade education. My parents did not want me to skip too far ahead—there is a difference between having the mental capacity to understand the material and actually knowing it. They ultimately decided to place me two grades ahead. I was finally challenged. I finally had to put effort into my studies. I was comfortable with the information, and even challenged a little too much. I made my one and only B as a final grade in eighth grade English. That summer my parents found an English tutor for me, who worked with me for the rest of my time home schooling. I never really understood how well the curriculum was working for me. It did not sink in when I was teaching my English tutor about the chemical imbalances involved in mental disorders with my research papers…What else could there be that I have been taught that was not taught in public school? I started viewing my education and public school education differently. That day I learned something. I learned that I have an advantage."


Kristin Dupard, Sophomore, Biochemistry/Pre-med
"Katrina's Blessings"

My essay has a lot of twist and turns. However, it is just an autobiographical essay of what my life has become due to Hurricane Katrina. I thoroughly explain with wit and extensive detail my journey from a victim to a survivor. This essay sheds light on how unexpected tragic incidents can lead to success. It is truly my blessing in disguise.

Writing Process: As the rustle and bustle of my freshman year began, I found refuge to get away from the ongoing Southern Miss festivities through my English 101 writing intensive course. Now, the process in writing this essay was first very long and drawn out. I wondered ,as any freshman would, why I had to go through so many steps to create an essay that would soon be thrown into my professor's never ending file cabinet of past papers. However, after discovering my topic, I realized that it was important that I took the steps to develop a "worthy of grading" paper. I chose to write my autobiography because Hurricane Katrina is a very important part of my ongoing life novel. The biggest influencers of this paper would have to be my mom. She works hard constantly day in and day out to make sure I have everything I need. Not to mention, even when she has to go without. If the reader could take anything from this essay, I would want he or she to understand that unexpected situations do arise , but God will always bring you through something to get you to a blessing. I feel that my life is a cookie jar overflowing with blessings that no person or hurricane can stop.

Excerpt: "Who I would be without Katrina is far from easy to explain. As one might imagine, New Orleans is not known for its safe environment let alone its public school system. My level of education, which was most important to my mother, would not have been at the same caliber it is today. I probably would have settled with being anything and anyone. Since my move to Ridgeland, Mississippi, my education, my goals, and my future are at a broader horizon. I would never imagine in my wildest dreams receiving a letter from President Barrack Obama, winning the National Poetry Out Loud Contest, or even being able to perform for B.B. King.  Katrina is responsible for my move from a natural disaster to a natural success.  This move created a new chapter in my life. I discovered drive and ambition that never existed within me."


Sarah Evans, Sophomore, Criminal Justice
"Being a Christian First"

Essay Summary:This essay expresses some of the thoughts, emotions, dilemmas, and conflicts I was faced with over the last few years. Manly focusing on moving away from home and attending a school many states away from home and family.

Writing Process: I chose the topic of "Being a Christian First" because I was experiencing right at that time the struggle of how to be true to God by putting Him first in everything I did. The importance of writing this essay helped me put truth to my struggle and rephrase it to where not only I can reflect on it, but for those who fight the same struggles can learn or apply it to their lives. What I like best about this essay is that I was writing about what I was experiencing personally. I was writing about something meaningful to myself, and hopefully to others as well. I would like the reader of this essay to be able to identify with some of my own conflicts and issues and realize that it's really okay to be different, to be true to yourself and who you really are, and not to forsake your own values and standards. For the reader identify with my struggles and know that God wants all of us to pursue our own passions, goals, and talents. 

Excerpt: "Being a Christian and being an Athlete as well poses many different problems and hurdles to cross than the average student must face in day to day life.  Being a Christian is much more than just having a religion. . . . .  It involves a “mind-set” and a different “world view” than most people have.  A Christian not only must answer to their peers, their family and friends, but to God, also.  Consequently, at times, this causes contradictions with the system and the way things are usually done in all areas of life.  I have gone to Church and functioned in a Christian family all my life, including attending Christian schools and being home schooled until my freshman year of high school.  Moving to public school was a culture shock to say the least.  For the first time in my life, at age 14, I realized that the “world’s systems” were not in sync with Christian beliefs and standards."


Tori Gans, Junior, Molecular Biology
"The Meteor is Coming: A Response to Species Lost" 

Essay Summary: This paper was a research paper drafted from one on my concerns about the environment, species loss. I wanted to convey a problem that our world faces with scientific fact that was interesting to a wide-spread audience. I talk about how the media, scientists, and the legislature address the issue. I discuss occurrences that I believe make species loss an issue not only for now but also in the long run, without getting carried away with too many facts. I hope it is a fun read that just might inspire you to get vocal about an issue that you think our environment is facing.

Writing Process: When the research paper come up in English, I knew I wanted to talk about species loss, right off the bat. I think the neglect that we have for the world including our cohabitants is a big part of why the go-green movement started. The problem was figuring out how to talk about it. It is a scientific issue meaning it does not get a lot of media attention, or even public attention. I needed to find a way to bring everyday life into my issue, and movies just seemed to fit the bill. I think the hardest part was showing there was a problem without point a finger at the people who are putting so much work into making a difference. I hope I succeeded, because I want the issues to get attention and hopefully even improve. Overall, I think my favorite part of the essay is when I talked about reaching out and adding more information to public media. I think it would be amazing if the news had some science injected into the lineup rounding out the take-away for the audience.

Excerpt: "In 2007, Dreamworks studio released an animated film, The Bee Movie, which follows the life of a bee. Barry B. Benson, who is disappointed to find that he will only have one job for the rest of his life.  In an act of rebellion, Barry goes out in the world, and many things happen to the little bee. One major happening is the discovery of humanity’s theft of the honey. Barry is appalled by humanity’s claim to the very nectar that he and his people tirelessly make day in and day out, so he decides to sue after which the bees earn the right of sole ownership to all the honey in the world. The massive return of honey to the bees results in a complete halt of production. This seems wonderful at first, but then terrible things start to happen. Flowering plants all around the world start to wither without creating viable offspring. Soon the world not only has lost flowers, but also fruits and vegetables, essentially showing that the loss of just one species can affect the workings of the world." 


Diana Garrett, Sophomore, Psychology
"Child Protective Services"

Essay Summary: Children Protective Services was written for those who are interested in the field of CPS, Children Protective Services, who want to help children, assist those in life-threatening problems, and help aid people in overcoming addictions. This essay informs you about the obstacles you may face in the field of being a social worker, as well as the emotional, mental, and physical impact it will have on you personally. Being a social worker fulfills those who love to help children and are given a chance to meet their desires to help them. Being a social worker does have its challenging moments, but that’s what makes those moments meaningful.  

Writing Process: I chose to write about being a social worker due to the impact they have on families lives. I'm all about making a difference in peoples' lives for the better, especially when it comes to children. It's true, children do get neglected, children do get abused (physically, mentally, and emotionally), children do suffer from starvation. However, I feel as though being a social worker is like Superman or Wonder Woman to the rescue. It takes courage and dedication to work in this field. My aunt, Cheryl Fergerson, is the person who influenced me the most in writing this essay. She is one of the youngest in the entire state of Tennessee to become a team coordinator and supervisor for Child Protective Services (CPS), Child and Family (Foster Care), the Resource Linkage, and Family Crisis Intervention Program (FCIP). What I admire most about my essay is that I wrote it in a way for my audience to visualize what they were reading. From this essay, I would like for my readers to take away the fact that by helping people change their lives for the better is the best reward ever.

Excerpt: "In this essay, I will focus more so onto those who are interested in the field of CPS, Children Protective Services, who want to help children, and inform you of the obstacles that you will face in this particular field of social workers.

"Imagine stepping into the scene of an abandoned apartment complex that is set for demolition. However, the demolition cannot take place due to a mother and her children living on the premises. You have been called to remove seven children aging 1 to 17 because of child neglect and educational neglect because they were not enrolled into school. Once you walk inside the apartment, you see a skeleton of a woman with midnight black skin barely breathing on a tattered couch; it is the children’s mother terminally ill dying of AIDS. With no family to rely on, her children would watch her lay dying as they took care of each other, and flying under the radar from the public eye stealing food to eat. Now it is your job to remove these children and place them into foster care, but it’s difficult finding a place to accept the children because not only are they a large sibling group, but the 1 year old is HIV positive. Would you be able to handle this situation and know what to do?


James Hall, Sophomore, Personal Finance Planning
"Critical Response to 'The Shame in College Sports'” 

Essay Summary: A Critical Response to "The Shame in College Sports" examining the benefits and short-falls of compensation for college athletes in the NCAA.

Writing Process: This was an assigned paper in which I used personal experiences on the subject, along with research and critical analysis of other works to compile this fact based critique of the work "The Shame in College Sports".

Excerpt: "The true shame in college sports is that we care more about keeping our wallets full and our fans happy than we do about our morals and character. We care more about the name and reputation of the team on the jerseys than the wellbeing of the players wearing them. Is there a fair way to compensate these players without sacrificing the legitimacy and true spirit of college athletics? Some would argue yes, some would argue no, but I say let’s at least have the discussion. Maybe something could be worked out to where all scholarships are academic and whether the players play or not they will at least be able to receive their degree. This would keep true the spirit of the NCAA and allow career athletes to not waste time at a college that will do nothing but exploit them. In the end it’s not the player’s names that make the game matter, it’s the players who make the name of the game matter."


Kevreonna Hypolite, Sophomore, Exercise Science
"The Shame of College Sports" 

Essay Summary: My essay is about the debated issue of whether college athletes should be paid to play sports. I am an athlete, so I decided to write the essay from my own point of view and outlook. My intent was to create just enough interest for others to want to gain more insight on this debate and even maybe become a part of it on their own, especially athletes who are mostly affected by this issue.

Writing Process: I chose my topic because I am an athlete myself, so I completely understand the worries, concerns, and troubles that are behind the scenes of collegiate sports. I also am very troubled with a few of the stories I was told about athletes who were basically stranded by their athletic programs after the end of their career, whether it was an early end or a full collegiate career. I feel that this essay created a strong argument that represented my true feeling and beliefs. I used facts, examples, and many other tools to make the reader feel more connected to the person that I am and my feelings. From this essay, I would like the reader to take away an understanding of what actually occurs in collegiate athletics. It is a wonderful opportunity that allows so many more chances to succeed in other areas, however, I want the reader to know that there are some cons to the business, and that athletes deserve to be compensated for their sacrifice, dedication, and hard work to their sport and school.

Excerpt: College sports are usually the dream of young athletes because it is an opportunity to play on the next level, and it is also a possible stepping stone to becoming a professional athlete. All athletes love the college visits, anxiety of having coaches come to watch them play, signing day where all family, friends, and peers get to support the athlete as they unknowingly sign their life away, etc.; however, never would an athlete imagine that they would actually become property to these college programs. In this article, one main point that Branch makes that is certainly one to be considered is that these colleges and sports programs make billions of dollars off of video games, jerseys, sports memorabilia, commercials, and other things from these athletes, and never share a penny of it. These athletes deserve to profit off of their names being marketed. Branch says “the NCAA bans personal messages on the bodies of the players, and penalizes players for trading their celebrity status for discounted tattoos—but it codifies precisely how and where commercial insignia from multinational corporations can be displayed on college players, for the financial benefit of the colleges.” I agree with Branch that the NCAA sets a double standard that monopolizes athletes and takes control of athletes’ own markets: themselves."


Rachel Lambert, Sophomore, Biochemistry
"Hunting Dogs: Possessions or Companions?" 

I ventured out into the relatively unknown world of game hunting to examine the relationships that hunters hold with their hunting dogs and to determine whether they view them as friends or possessions. I focused primarily on the case studies of three individual hunters, who I personally interviewed and observed interacting with their dogs. I analyzed the hunters’ use of language during my observations and found that each of these individuals viewed his dogs neither solely as companions nor as possessions. Although their language created a divide between pet dogs and trained hunting dogs, all of my interviewees formed at least one personal connection with their dogs. The language in the magazines and dog training manuals that they lent to me maintained a balanced attitude toward the dogs; some articles discussed hunting dogs as if they were possessions while others discussed a more personal connection with particular dogs. Overall, I found that hunters sometimes feel a need to distance themselves from their highly trained dogs but still spend enough time with them to form significant individual relationships.

Writing Process: When our English instructor, Mrs. Ann McNair, told us that we would be writing a research paper on a literacy community, I knew that I wanted to choose a unique, fun, and interesting topic. As I was brainstorming, I remembered that some of my relatives had recently returned from a hunting trip in another state. The hunting community seemed to meet all my requirements, and I decided to study the aspects of hunting that the community valued the most. However, Mrs. McNair encouraged me to narrow my topic. The recent controversy over gun control laws made me wonder how the hunting community viewed the situation. I assumed that hunters valued their guns more than any other hunting equipment. However, when I began interviewing my participants, the conversation was continually redirected from guns to hunting dogs. I was surprised to find that the hunters I interviewed valued their experiences with their dogs and with nature more than actually bringing home game. Because I was so surprised, I decided that the new goal of my essay would be to dissolve stereotypes surrounding the hunting community by studying the ways in which dog hunters value their dogs. I hope those who read my paper will learn as much about the hunting community as I did during my research process and will develop a greater appreciation for the beautiful dogs that I was able to study.

Excerpt: "Over the course of my studies, I found that the individual hunter’s language concerning his dogs lies along a continuum ranging from a view of the dogs as purely possessions and tools to a view of the dogs as family members, children, or lifelong friends.  Mr. Paul’s language concerning his dogs lay slightly closer to the possession end of the spectrum than Carl’s language to his squirrel dog.  Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Paul’s conversation and the discrepancy between Carl’s treatment of his squirrel and deer dogs highlights the hunter’s mental separation of pets from true hunting dogs.  While hunting dogs are trained to perfection and are objects of pride for their trainers, the hunter does not usually develop a strong emotional tie to them or accept them into his family.  Pet dogs are minimally trained but deeply loved and connected to their families.  While many hunters can name a favorite dog, very few well trained hunting dogs have the ability to also become a much loved family member and friend.  Certain hunters, such as Carl or the owners of Annie, seem more willing to make this admission than others.  However, all of these hunters love their dogs in their own way and exhibit care, concern for, and pride in their dogs and their hunting accomplishments obtained through them."


Celeste Monus, Sophomore, Speech Pathology
"Speech Pathology Is The Major For You" 

Essay Summary: My Essay was about the advantages of working as a Speech and Language Pathologist. I argued many reasons as to why my major was a good choice for my future.

Writing Process: The purpose of this paper was to be a Synthesis Essay. I chose to write about why Speech and Language Pathology was a good choice for both a major and career path because I know that many do not know what a Speech and Language Pathologist actually is. What I like about my essay the most is that it opens the eyes of those who had no idea what my major even was. It gave detail about any field a Speech and Language Pathologist could go into regarding the major and that is what I was trying to portray.

Excerpt: "There is obviously a lot of work that is needed to complete the [speech pathology] degree, but many schools work with their students to guarantee success. The University of Southern Mississippi, a school that is best known for [its] nursing program and speech pathology program, has a step-by-step plan that enables students to graduate with this degree within a six-year period."


Kristen Morel, Sophomore, Elementary Education with an English Endorsement

Essay Summary: The modern world is encapsulated by darkness, ridden with turmoil, and dominated by evils who can best be described as "monsters". One figure of our popular culture that provides exceptional insight on this monstrous lifestyle is the iconic villain The Joker. By juxtaposing the life of the Clown Prince of Crime, particularly as portrayed by Heath Ledger, with our everyday life in society, we are able to see two things: reflections of our monstrous world, and the Joker-like monsters we are all capable—or even desirous, on some level—of becoming.

Writing Process: I was fortunate enough to have a themed English 102 class—even more fortunate that it was centered around monsters. I have always found monsters to be particularly interesting, as the unknown and bizarre spark my imagination like nothing else. We discussed monstrosity very much in depth, and how it ties to everyday life- ultimately, how do we define monstrosity and monsters? How do monsters influence us? Are we monsters? These questions were the backbone of my essay, and I believed the character of The Joker to be a decent example and answer. 

My love of superheroes led me to this decision. They have always had a special place in my heart, yet I have always wanted to know more- comic books had been foreign to me up to this point. I am glad to say that my large amount of research for this paper has successfully quenched my thirst for Joker knowledge. This essay allowed me to explore primarily these three things: the sad life of a broken man, the concept of "right and wrong", and how we define monsters.

There are no clear cut answers in life. People will always see things differently and, believe it or not, their actions usually reflect what they see as completely justifiable- even if others deem them to be monstrous. With that being said, hopefully this essay will make known the idea that there are more to monsters than just the fantastical creatures we think of when October rolls around... there may be monsters that are all too real who surround us every day.

Excerpt: "Chalk white skin, emerald green hair, and ruby red lips; a Cheshire grin and a manic, bone chilling laugh. These are just a few recognizable features of perhaps the most iconic villain of all time- The Joker. Based in Gotham City, this madman spends his days terrorizing the citizens through his twisted comical state of mind- too bad that no one ever gets the joke. However, what is this man’s true purpose? Like all monsters, The Joker shows us a life of freedom, power, and satisfaction- a life that each of us desperately desires. Through his own experiences, this Clown Prince of Crime shows us that this ideal way of life is indeed attainable as long as we give in to the evil around us; through ‘one bad day,’ this man decided to trade in his worries and sorrows for a monstrous life, and he has- in his mind- left a humorous trail of turmoil and truth in his wake ever since. The Joker has always been the ultimate portrayal of our growingly morbid society since his conception; however, the most modern version represented in Christopher Nolan’s 2008 box-office hit The Dark Knight not only reflects the dark, monstrous world in which we live, but also the Joker-like monsters we are all capable of becoming."


Victoria Osborne, Sophomore, Nursing
"Stakeholder's Essay" 

Essay Summary: This is an essay that explains what community organizations are like in today's society and who benefits from them. Along in this essay are three different individuals giving an input on whether or not they agree with the existence of community organizations. 

Writing Process: I chose this topic by considering the different things that dealt with food in our community and who all could be involved in it along with the ones who could be against it. Doing community service at Edwards Fellowship Center Thrift Store during my course of English with my instructor, Professor Andrea Spofford, is what influenced me the most in writing and developing this essay. What I like best about this essay is having three different individuals pursuing their input on one subject that is not addressed much in a community. I would like for the reader to consider their views on how they feel about community organizations and if my essay had any influence on their decision.

Excerpt: "I remember less than five years ago when I ran into this elderly man staring through the window of Stamp’s Burgers with tears in his eyes because he could not afford food to eat. By his looks and the way he dressed in baggy brown clothing, I had figured he must have been homeless and could not afford much and had been hungry for some days. I slowly stepped out of my car and approached the elderly man with a bright warm smile as he turned his head sadly to face me. I greeted him politely and kindly walked inside with him not knowingly I was about to purchase him the biggest, juiciest burger meal on the menu. As I came outside I happily sat the meal I previously purchased into the elderly man’s worn hands and told him to enjoy his fantastic meal. He was ecstatic and in such shock and thankfulness all he could do was shake his head and cry and graspingly shake my hand with pleasure.

"It was from that experience I knew working for the community in providing for the homeless was one of the best decisions I had ever made...  I believe that with help of the community and with the help of volunteers at different community organizations homeless people will have very few things to worry about. With the use of community organizations, homeless individuals are able to experience happiness along with great feelings and confidence they felt they had lost years before they even came homeless.  Although there are some individual homeless people it is harder to work with it is great feeling when they are able to open up to you and know they have someone to count on."


Robanika Patterson, Sophomore, Public Relations
"No Good-bye!" 

Essay Summary: In the essay, "No Good-bye!", I talked about the significance of cherishing every moment with a person because you'll never know when it's your last moment shared. I lost my brother at 12 years old, the morning we fussed for hours about something so simple as leaving the top off the toothpaste. If I had not been so stubborn, my last moment with my brother may have been one that made me smile.

Writing Process: Choosing this topic was easy, but emotional. I chose this topic because it was a great opportunity to inform others on how important every moment is,while getting the opportunity to tell my story. It was an interesting topic to write about, and didn't require much research. For the first time since my brother's death, I was able to tell someone the memories of my brother and myself without getting too emotional face to face. I enjoyed writing this paper & I hope I did influence my readers the importance of shared moments with loved ones.

Excerpt: "I learned that, yes, it is possible to see someone one day and never see them again. I learned that death was not anything to plan, but something that happens unexpectedly. I learned that death can happen to anyone, in any household. No matter how good you are, I learned that death can happen to you and me, and you defiantly do not choose your own due date for death. Death can happen anywhere, any time, and to anybody, without a sign or permission. That day, June 16, 2005, I learned that I would never share another second with my brother again. I whimpered a whole lot of tears that day, tears I never knew I had built inside of me."

"I cried, I cried, I cried!

"However, the fact that my brother was dead was not 100 percent of my tears. Half of my tears came from not knowing. Not knowing that my brother, who I loved so much, could just leave me without any good-byes. If I had known the true meaning of death, or the fact that my brother was not coming back home that day or any other day, I would have smiled at him that morning."


Joshua Polk, Sophomore, Psychology/Criminal Justice
"Not Homeschooling? Cool." 

Essay Summary: This essay is a critical analysis of Tricia Vaughan's "Not Homeschooling? What's your excuse?" It takes each part of Vaughan's argument and breaks them down with logic and statistical data. The author was home-schooled, therefore the point of view makes for an interesting read.

Writing Process: I chose the topic of this paper because I believed that a paper written about homeschooling by a member of the institution would provide a unique perspective. When I began thinking about the subject of the paper, I realized that I did not know very much about homeschooling despite having been home-schooled myself. I began doing extensive research on homeschooling vs. public schooling, and I discovered that Mrs. Vaughan's essay is complete non-sense. At that point, I began to find counter arguments to every point that Vaughan made and put them on paper. The essay came together, and I had quite a bit of fun writing it.

My English instructor, Rodney DeaVault, was more than supportive while I was writing this behavior. He seemed to be just as excited to see the finished product as I was.

The thing that I like most about this paper is that I was able to brutally analyze something that many people would assume that I agree with while using mild sarcasm and facts. I want readers to see how a good argument is made, and I want them to see that using humor and sarcasm in an argument can supplement the rest of case as long as it is accompanied by facts and data.

Excerpt: "In the beginning of her essay, Vaughan uses the biased example of her five-year-old son’s homeschooling success as proof of the validity and value of homeschooling one’s children, but she neglects to mention the difficulties that come with homeschooling children through high school, or the arduousness of educating multiple children of different grades(Vaughan 646). Vaughan suggests that all parents should teach their own children and the public school system should be removed, but she doesn’t seem to realize that the commitment to homeschooling is a time consuming and difficult one that many Americans will not or cannot make. Vaughan fails to give an alternative to public schooling to single parents, illiterate parents, or low income families where both parents must work."


James Richter, Sophomore, Computer Science
"C++: A Focal Point for Computer Science Majors" 

Essay Summary: Institutions of higher learning often differ in which computer programming language is taught at the most basic level. My essay argues that C++ should be the basic computer programming language that is taught to first-year computer science majors.

Writing Process: I took CSC101 at a different university one summer while in high school. They taught Java as the programming language, but here at USM they teach C++. When I was told to write a research paper about my major, the differences between the two languages immediately popped into my head. My CSC101 professor here at USM, Dr. William Bond, was instrumental in helping me in the right direction while writing my paper. I particularly liked comparing the ease of use for beginners when using Java and when using C++. My purpose for my essay is to inform current computer science majors which programming languages should be learned and focused on more than others to better prepare those students for the workforce.

Excerpt: "Students might ask why not learn the most basic of the C based languages, C, instead of learning C++. Dr. Bond, a teacher of undergraduate level computer science courses at the University of Southern Mississippi, states that one of the differences and advantages of the C++ language is that C++ has a variety of header files that other programming languages cannot match in numbers. Header files allow the programmer to access certain predefined functions to be used within a programming language. The number of header files that programming languages allow users to access is important. For example, if a student were mathematically trying to find the speed of a car, but there was no predefined function within a header file to perform that calculation, a student would then have to make their own function to perform that task. All in all, predefined functions make programming easier."


Will Simmons, Junior, Biological Sciences
"Going Gaga for GaGa" 

Have you ever wondered why people prefer certain music genres over others? In my essay, I explore the scientific and social links between people and their preferred music, with an emphasis on popular music. Majority of my evidence is scientific, focusing broadly on what happens in the human brain while listening to music. I found that a lot more happens when a person listens to music than one would first conceive. Some of the facts help explain why so many people seem to being going crazy for pop music, or more simply, why they are "Going Gaga for GaGa".

Writing Process: My writing process consists mostly of considering the topic on my free time, and then letting the ideas find their way into word form. This idea, and its underlying issues, had been spinning around in my head for a very long time. So, as soon as I was given the chance to do a serious research paper on a topic of my choosing, the words spilled onto the paper. In writing this essay, my greatest influence was definitely my English professor, Professor Tomorrowitz. She encouraged me to pick a topic that I was adamant about, while also pushing for me to develop my own style and tone. Finally being able to write in my own way for once was great, and I am thankful for the opportunity. My favorite part of this essay is that I was not prohibited from injecting a little humor into it. In regard to simple pop music and many people's reasons for endorsing it, I find many laughs to be had. This is quite evident in the interview within the paper, as well as in the section dealing with Justin Bieber's music. If the reader gains anything from this essay, I want it to be the idea that the mechanized, generic music on the radio is making untalented "artists" around the world rich by selling the same song over and over again, with only slightly tweaked specifics. I would like to see the majority of music listeners expand their musical interests. This would not only challenge musicians everywhere to create better art, but also challenge the listeners to grasp and learn about new styles. After all, everyone loves a new challenge, right?

Excerpt: "Pop music is everywhere. It is on radios, on televisions, on elevators, and in the backgrounds of consciousness during daily rudimentary activities… Out of every music genre in existence, why would the synco-psybient, autotune driven bubblegum pop of people like  Britney Spears and Rihanna over shadow the musical study and genius of the classical monarchs, like Beethoven and Bach? Why not the guitar driven, guttural show of speed and aggression in more recent rock bands like Metallica? Why do we not see the mind soothing working of blues music topping the music charts? Through my conducted research, I have come to the conclusion that pop music has been given such a massive rise to fame because of its simple nature, which allows the general, average mind to grasp its basic concepts. Pop music is popular because it is predictable. This can be shown through its lack of evolution over time, explained through its scientific mechanisms, and seen through the detrimental psychological effects it has on the mind."