March 23

Advocacy Project

For the advocacy project, I will be working with Chris to recommend to the Penn State administration that they require a course that addresses race, ethnicity, and identity. In a country that is known for being a melting pot of cultures, cultural awareness is becoming more and more important. As an institution of higher education we believe Penn State should challenge its students to think critically about their identity in hopes of creating a more welcoming environment for all students. The first step to an inclusive university is starting conversations. Many multicultural organizations have tried but the students who need to have these conversations don’t go out of their way to be there. I think in the spirit of the All In initiative, the university should now take the responsibility of starting these conversations to show that they truly care about the comfort of ALL students on this campus.

January 19

This I Believe Draft.

Poor. Uneducated. Lazy. While these adjectives are not an integral part of most people’s consciousness, they nonetheless had a profound effect on my development and identity.  Living in Kensington, a north Philadelphia neighborhood with a large Latino population, I heard these words every day and in many cases in reference to what I could hope to become. Was this my future? Two events changed my thinking. First, when I was seven years old my mom became a Philadelphia councilwoman. To my seven year old self she remained just mom; however, I soon realized that she was now a powerful voice of thousands of Philadelphia residents who for so long had been disconnected from the political process. This realization profoundly affected me. I now had a clear example that one is not defined by a singular set of stereotypes, but rather by the choices one makes. The second was my introduction to Du Bois’s theory of the Talented Tenth by my father. Du Bois emphasized that it is up to the top ten percent of a community to lift the entire community up. Guided by my mother’s example and Du Bois’s theory, I embarked on a path that sought to break stereotypes and re-define my identity through a dedication to helping to better the lives of those in my community.

Throughout high school I dedicated much of my time and energy to community involvement. As a freshman I joined a club called the Spanish and Latino Student Association (S.A.L.S.A). While the club already had a strong cultural orientation, dedicating much of its activities to the exploration of Latin culture through music and dance, I thought that it could do much more.  I arranged a meeting with a member of my mom’s staff and discussed the various needs of the community. She put me in contact with a middle school whose after school program was struggling due to a lack of funds to pay teachers. I introduced my S.A.L.S.A club members to the school and soon our members were helping with homework and running other activities for the kids. Our partnership was a great experience for members of my club and for the students. My continued community involvement also made me realize that involvement was not enough, rather that these experiences afforded me opportunities to hone my leadership skills. As a sophomore I ran for Public Relations officer of S.A.L.S.A. and became the club’s youngest president as a junior. When I arrived at Penn State, I came across the student government and knew that I could not pass up the opportunity to get involved. After a two part interview process, I was nominated to be a representative and now I proudly serve as your Freshman Representative in the University Park Undergraduate Association. 

I believe that when you are blessed with a great education, it is up to you to bring your community up with you.

January 13

New Semester Thoughts

For the “This I Believe” assignment I have been considering a few different ideas. My first idea is to speak about DuBois’ Talented Tenth essay. The essay talks about how it is up to the top 10% of a community to raise the rest of the community up. My father shared this essay with me early in my life and since being shown it, it has shaped me immensely. I really think that when you are given certain gifts it is up to you to figure out how to use those gifts to empower your community. Another idea I am considering speaking about is my belief that no matter what people will try to bring you down. This idea was sparked by the fire that occurred in my previous home. Long story short, my dad was running for elected office in Philadelphia and his opponent burnt our house down. Philadelphia politics is kind of crazy but in the end I saw that even when you have the best intentions and just want to do good things, haters are gonna hate. I think it would be interesting to discuss that people will always try to bring you down but you just have to hold your head up.

For my passion blog this semester I would like to continue my current blog. I think that with a topic as large as mine it allows for constant new songs to be evaluated. I think that most songs have some meaning deep down and I think bringing those meanings to light is very important. I think that I can improve by possibly narrowing in on a specific time frame though I believe there is a lot to be said for music of different times.

For my Civic Issues blog I have considered a few different ideas. I am very interested in what is currently happening in our society and love to discuss them. My first idea was to do something in the category of Politics. I grew up in politics and am a political science major so I am very interested in discussing the various elements of our American politics. I think it would be really interesting to discuss party politics and how it is shaping our political scene. It would be an especially interesting thing to look at now considering that the Republicans run the House of Representatives, Senate, and White House. I would also be interested in discussing Civic Discourse within the country. Now more than every movements are rising up and people are voicing their opinions thanks to avenues like social media. It would be interesting to take a critical look at the discourse and talk about the positives and negatives that can come out of it.

November 1

Ted Talk Outline

Ted Talk Outline

Intro: I want to begin by asking you all to think back to when you were a kid and there was that one kid in your class that you just could not stand. *picture of kid watching other kids play* I remember there was a new kid in my class named Jason that everyone instantly loved and took all the attention from me which made me upset as it would any 6 year old who loves attention. I decided to make up a rumor that he farts a lot. *picture of kids making fun of kid* Yeah I was quite the creative genius but soon enough it spread and no one wanted to be friends with him. Looking back I can tell how terrible this is and I would never do something like this again. Now I tell this story because something similar happened here in the united states but on a much bigger scale.

Part 1 : Historical reasons to why it became illegal

Mexican immigrants came over and brought with them the cultural activity of recreational marijuana use. *old picture of mexican smoking* As unemployment raised through great depression people blamed the Mexicans. The government decided to criminalize the activity on basis that it insights crime. 

Part 2: Government stance as new science comes out

Began in the 30s

  • Reefer Madness propaganda film released *reefer madness poster*
  • MPAA banned showing of drugs in films
  • Marijuana Tax Act Passed *picture of act*
  • –> La Guardia Report Released *picture of La Guardia report*

Widespread use by white upper class in 60s *picture of hippies and woodstock*

  • –> Reports by Johnson and Kennedy disprove theories

In 1970 Controlled Substances Act makes it schedule 1 *picture of nixon signing*

–> Shafer commission suggests it should be decriminalized *picture of news headline (* 

  • States begin independently loosening penalties 

Anti drug abuse act and comprehensive crime control act of 1984 intensify *Reagan signing*

–> Cali decides to legalize use of medicinal *picture of dispensary*

Due to a 2005 SC case, government is allowed to crack down on weed even if its legal in the state which they do through 2011  *Gonzales v. Raich political cartoon*

–> 2012 Colorado goes green *welcome to colorado*

2013 DOJ announces it wont sue the states who legalize and won’t fight

Part 3: What is really happening: Pharmaceutical, Tobacco, and prison companies all lobby against it. *Pictures of logos of lobbying organizations*

  • Where CADCA and Partnership for Drug-Free kids get their money (Pharmaceutical companies)
  • Continued lobbying over the years.

“–>” indicates scientific/governmental progress in favor of reform

Sources referenced:


October 24

Circle Blog #5

In The New York Times review of The Circle, the review writer declares that “Mae, then, is not a victim but a dull villain.” This is referring to the development of Mae’s character throughout the novel. The reader is guided through the novel following Mae’s development at The Circle. Throughout her time at The Circle Mae begins to change from a victim of her environment to a villain encouraging it.

In the beginning of the novel, you are introduced to Mae as she is introduced into The Circle due to her new job there. The reader tends to see The Circle as euphorically as Mae does but as Mae begins to fall more in love with the company, the reader sees what is truly occurring. The reader begins seeing Mae as a victim of her environment as she is brainwashed into becoming another member contributing to The Circle.

At first the Circle has to force Mae to use her newly activated social media. They tell her that she must contribute to the Circle by sharing as much information as she can. Like most people, Mae is not used to constantly updating her social media accounts. What The Circle did to encourage people to participate on social media was create a ranking system that encourages its employees to move up in “PartiRank” by constantly staying up to date on all social media accounts. When she begins working her ranking is 10,328 but, over the course of the novel, she rises in rank as she becomes more sucked into the Circle. Her rank at one point even reaches the top ten of PartiRank with her having close to 2.1 million followers

As Mae becomes more and more involved she becomes blind to what could be perceived as right and wrong. She is sold on all the benefits the Circle’s inventions have to offer without seeing the potential disadvantages that the inventions could have on the population as a whole. The best example of Mae’s change from victim to villain comes after the death of Mercer.

A new technology she created, SoulSearch, crowdsources the finding of criminals by sending a picture of them to everyone who follows the Circle. When she shows an example of this, the criminal is found in a little bit over 10 minutes. When asked to do another example she decides to look for her ex-boyfriend, Mercer. He is located shortly after but gets in his truck in hopes of evading the people pursuing him.

This leads to Mae sending drones after him in hopes of talking to him. While talking to him, more people join in talking to him and he drives himself off of a bridge. When Ty warns Mae of the dangers of Completion, she ignores him. He sees what happens to Mercer and warns her that she has the power to stop more people like Mercer from dying. She decides to turn Ty in and warn of his intentions to stop Completion. At this point she is making the decision to continue the actions that killed Mercer changing the perspective of her as a victim to a villain.

October 21

Paradigm Shift Idea

The paradigm shift I am considering is the shift in public opinion towards marijuana in the United States over the past century. The stigma towards marijuana use began in the United States after the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900s. After the Mexican Revolution, Mexicans began immigrating to places like Texas and Louisiana and became Americans. Though they were now Americans they brought with them their cultural traditions, one of which was the smoking of “marihuana” for medicinal purposes and stress relief. The demonization of marijuana stemmed from the demonization of Mexican immigrants. The government used it as a tool to search and deport Mexicans.

Now in America the feelings towards marijuana have shifted greatly. Americans now see the medicinal benefits of the plant and studies have shown that marijuana leaves very little impact upon our bodies compared to what previous theories had thought.

There are two major ways to track the shift in public opinion. The first is by the polling done over the years regarding how Americans felt. The second is by the shifting laws. Though federal law has deemed it illegal, some state governments have legalized it for medicinal use and some even for recreational use.

The major resistance comes from the large pharmaceutical companies that are aware of how it will kill their industries. If marijuana were to become legal, many prescription drugs would be deemed unnecessary and replaced with the herbal alternative.

Many of the original myths regarding its health effects have recently been debunked as more scientific studies have been done. It was originally difficult to do tests on the herb due to its Schedule 1 classification but over the decades rules became less strict as people became more interested in studying it.

I plan on giving the historical background of the plant’s demonization then charting the shift in attitude within the country.

October 18

Circle Blog #4

The Circle is meant to criticize the current direction society is going in relation to technology. Throughout the novel the author, Dave Eggers, creates various inventions within his novel that could potentially be practical in the real world given the direction technology is going. Eggers uses the medium of a dystopian novel to make people more conscious of the repercussions of such advanced technology by limiting privacy more and more throughout the novel. Throughout the novel Eggers uses technological ideas and Mae’s character to warn of the dangers of technology.

The invention that launched the Circle was TruYou. Though this invention has its flaws, for the most part it was a good idea that brought together a lot of information. What shocked me were the inventions that came after it. One of the most popular inventions was SeeChange which was a system of tiny cameras that you can put anywhere and they would stream live to you. These cameras are very intrusive in my opinion. Though they can be used for positive purposes, what is worrying is that they are easy to put anywhere for surveillance. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of constantly being watched.

In today’s world almost everyone has an iPhone or smartphone, almost always equipped with a camera. If anything bad ever occurs, someone usually is recording it. SeeChange takes it to another by making it almost too easy to record. The cameras can be placed in any location, even places that are meant to be kept private like a bathroom for instances. Also when people have the ability to choose what they record, some things that shouldn’t be recorded aren’t automatically recorded. An instance of this occurred when Mae walked in on her parents engaging in intercourse. When she tried to see if the recording could be deleted she learned that it couldn’t and that it would be available for all of her viewers to see. Obviously no one wants their parents sex tape online so I think it is safe to say that the cameras take it too far.

The increased impact of technology on us can also be seen in Mae’s character. Mae is representation of the direction humans are going in regards to technological involvement in our everyday lives. In the beginning of the novel Mae is forced into gaining more of a social media presence. Though in the real world people do not necessarily force us into social media, we are almost peer pressured into it because of how widely it is used. In my generation especially, if you do not have social media accounts then you are immediately cast out from lot of information and social circles. Many people in my generation get most of their knowledge of what is going on in the world from social media sites like Twitter. Mae increasingly becomes more and more active in the various networking sites and gets so caught up in the Circle that she doesn’t even visit her parents. Overall Mae lets her work in technology take over her life completely that she misses out on things like family.

The Circle is a warning that as technology increases we should not lose sight of vital things in our life like family and privacy.

October 7

Circle Blog #3

The Circle is a very questionable organization. As a reader in modern day America, many of the norms present in the Circle appear strange and intrusive. Much of the privacy standards we have been used to in our society aren’t the same in the Circle. The Circle organization believes that information should be available to everyone and if it was available then all conflict would be available. In the book three mantras are presented that represent the Circle’s idea of being transparent: “Secrets are lies, sharing is caring, and privacy is theft.”

“Secrets are Lies” is the first mantra I will discuss. Mae says that when secrets are kept it results in two things. The first is that crimes are made possible due to the lack of accountability. Obviously if no one else witnesses then you are the only one who ever knows. The second is that “secrets inspire speculation.” What Mae means is that when you don’t know something, you guess and make up your own ideas of answers. She says that speculations made are lies and can be damaging. For example if your loved one hasn’t been responding and you assume the worst which only hurts you. These lies we tell ourself would not be told if it were not for the initial secret.

In the real world I don’t know how realistic this statement is. Some information is just not for everyone. When it comes to secrets that should be kept secret I always point to the government and military as reference. There is just some information that needs to be kept secret. For example if everyone knew when the United States was going after Bin Laden someone probably would have tipped him off. Just because the government didn’t tell us doesn’t mean it was a lie. Some things are just better kept secret; especially when it comes to government. If certain intel got out it could put the entire country at risk.

The other 2 mantras, “sharing is caring” and “privacy is theft” both refer to the same concepts. The overall idea behind the two is that all knowledge and experience should be shared so everyone can enjoy the same human experience. The example brought up in the book by Bailey refers to his son who has suffered from Cerebral Palsy since birth. Bailey talks about how his son can’t experience many of the beautiful aspects of life and instead has to live vicariously through other people’s pictures. The Circle believes that sharing information and experiences is crucial and to keep anything to yourself is to deprive others of that, which they consider to be theft.

In the real world I do not know how many people would actually buy that. Some experiences are just personal. A prime example of this is in the book when Francis films himself and Mae having intercourse. This is obviously something that is shared between two people and not everyone with access to the cloud should have access too. There is no way in which seeing that benefits anyone else except for entertainment purposes. In addition to that, the necessity to document experiences takes away from the overall experience itself. For example if you are at a concert and tweeting about it, you’re not actually looking at the concert. You are then just missing out on the experience yourself. Experiences can be documented but they don’t always have to.

September 29

Rhetorical Analysis Paper Rough Outline

My Civic Artifact was a Jordan sneaker so for my Rhetorical Analysis paper I have decided to talk about Macklemore’s song “Wing$” that appeared on his first studio album with Ryan Lewis, The Heist. The song talks about materialism and consumerism in the United States, specifically referring to Jordan sneakers.


A link to the music video is available here:


How the artifact targets/responds to/constructs its audience:

What is really interesting about this song is that the medium Macklemore uses to bring light to the consumerism behind sneakers is the same medium that helped basketball sneakers, especially Jordans. Sneakers have been a big part of hip hop culture for awhile now. Macklemore’s goal is to get people to think about the consumerism and materialism behind sneakers so what better way than using rap.


How do the pieces’ rhetorical choices make meaning?

The whole song is meant to help the listener understand why sneakers were so important to people and show why their reasoning is false.

Aristole’s 3 Appeals

  • Pathos: The main appeal that Macklemore uses is Pathos. Throughout the song he constantly is trying to engage people’s emotions through various techniques. He uses stories of his childhood to talk about his experiences with Jordans. He talks about that feeling of putting on the sneakers and feeling like it made him play like Michael Jordan.
  • Ethos: What gives Macklemore his credibility is his current wealth. If someone who doesn’t have much money talks about the negative aspects of expensive sneakers then one just thinks to themselves that the person simply cannot afford it and is envious. When someone who has plenty of money says “Hey I was in that position before, don’t fall into the same trap” then it makes you stop for a second and think about what they are trying to get across.
  • Logos: Throughout the song he uses various analogies to help the listener understand the importance of the shoes.


How do social and historical contexts, ideologies, and commonplaces come into play?

Sneaker culture goes back quite a few years. Over time it has evolved from shoes being a little hard to get to an entire sneaker resale market. I’ll also elaborate on the crosses between sneaker culture and the hip hop culture.

What world does the text desire?

The text desires a world where people don’t get caught up in all the hype. People should spend money on things they truly like, not just trying to flex that they have expensive sneakers.