Category Archives: In class assignments

Profile Project: Provo’s Red Headed Firecracker

PROVO, Utah— With passion as fiery as her red hair, Jessie Christensen saunters to class.

Throwing a quick glance to the side as she reaches for the curved handle to her first class of the day, she looks bright- eyed and cheery.

With a desire to work in the advertising field, Christensen works as a teacher’s assistant for Communications 101.

She desires to land a job in Salt Lake City working on the Mormon Messages advertisements or in New York City.

When Christensen speaks of Times Square, the color of her face turns a rosy pink and her eyes take on a shiny hue. She describes the awe of all the bright lights and ads that cover Times Square.

“I want to be someone whose work is seen all over the world.”

Christensen is certainly an up-and-comer. As a 19 year-old freshman at Brigham Young University, she oozes confidence when it comes to her work.

“I ‘ve always wanted to go [to BYU]. It’s the only college I applied to. I was pretty confident.”

And when it comes to confidence, this Nevada native knows a thing or two. Christensen is from a city less than 10 minutes from Las Vegas, a city known for high rollers and big risk takers.

With a passion for dance, Christensen describes her senior year as the captain of the Coronado High School dance team in Henderson, NV. “I’ve loved staying busy.”

She describes how she’s danced her entire life and how the determination to become a better dancer and maintain friendships with a busy schedule has shaped her personality.

She plans to bring her dancer’s tenacity to the advertising field. “I always do my best work,” Christensen said.

She hopes to maintain a high GPA while she pursues her Bachelor’s Degree.

As a pre-Communications major with an emphasis in Advertising, Christensen has countless opportunities to bring her “best work” to the table. Her classes require a lot of research and writing.

While she stays busy, Christensen knows friendships are important. With a huge smile on her face, she exclaims, “Friends! I love meeting [new friends.]”

She’s very passionate about service work and says, “I like to please everyone. I like making people happy.”

And with a downward gaze, Christensen slowly confides, “Honestly, being at this university and working so hard to get here and then seeing people sluff off in their classes has been a huge disappointment for me.”

She expected to see more people with the same passion and drive as her, but it’s apparent that she is different than the other students for more reasons than her flaming red locks.

Christensen is a firecracker with a passion that sets her apart for other students her age.


Dispute over Utah Land

This is my first article for my Media Writing class at BYU in Provo, UT!


Salt Lake City— A dispute about Utah land is making the news. Again.

This time it’s not between the Mormons and everybody else; this time it’s a fight on the constitutional and ethical transfer of land.

Utah’s Transfer of Public Land Act is under public scrutiny. An analysis written by Constitutional Scholar Carrie Ann Donnell claimed that the act is a lawful way for the state to reclaim land from the federal government while other groups call the act dishonest.

The federal government owns two-thirds of Utah’s land, which serves as an inconvenience for Utah and other Western states according to Rep. Ken Ivory, R- West Jordan.

Ivory announced a deadline on Dec. 31, 2014 for the federal government to terminate control over the land in Utah. He claimed that owning more of Utah’s land would enhance educational funding for the state.

Conversely, groups such as Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance said the fight is costly and reckless.

“The Legislature’s own attorneys acknowledge that the Transfer of Public Lands Act is almost surely unconstitutional,” said the legal director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance Stephen Bloch. “This is both bad law and bad policy.”

Donnell doesn’t agree and asserted, “There was never an intent for the territories to give up all their lands to the federal government, and there was never an intent for the federal government to hold that land indefinitely.”

Donnell said the land was given to the government on the premise that the land would be returned to the state eventually.

She added that the land should have been sold to absolve the debt left from the Revolutionary War and to fund a new government.

“The main takeaway is that the Transfer of Public Lands Act that I reviewed is perfectly constitutional,” Donnell explained. “Proponents should not be deterred from moving forward because of the fears or threats around it. Legally, it would survive any challenge in court.”

The Sutherland Institute’s Center for Self Government in the West commissioned Donnell’s analysis. The center’s director Carl Graham said, “We’re just hoping to add to the public information on the debate. We want people to go into this debate informed and get over the hump that ‘this is just crazy talk.’ It is not just crazy talk.”

He added that other states in the West are following Utah’s actions. He predicted between five and seven other states will form similar laws.

What’s with all the quotes?

In class today we read another student’s paper and critiqued it for them. Ashley only had a few minutes to read my paper, and we only made it to page two, but she noticed that I used a lot of quotes. I grafted quotes into my paper, so my personal words were still the bulk of my paper, however, Ashley noted that I said Zabriskie’s word “cherish” five times in a matter of about three sentences. Her suggestion was to eliminate three or so of the “cherished” bits of my paper.

Besides my excessive quotes, Ashley maintained that I did a nice job of holding on to my voice throughout my first two pages. 🙂

Blog #5: Leads that Light

Today in class we were asked to write three possible leads to our ten page paper. Our rough draft for this paper is due by Tuesday, the 14th, and I have not even begun to think about such a daunting task. And as the wise Julie Andrews said in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” So as I began trying to figure out where to start, I flipped to a dogeared page in my English 102 textbook, The Curious Researcher, that gave me some wonderful ideas. Ballenger disclosed “Openings to your paper might sound hard, but consider all the ways to begin:









-Announcement” (163-164).

Also divulged in The Curious Researcher is the concept that, “Leads… are flashlights that shine down into the story” (Mcphee qtd in Ballenger 161). What is meant by that quote, is that our introduction needs to be captivating and give our readers an insight as to what the rest of the paper will be on.

Here go my quick attempts as I sit in class for a few more minutes:

Anecdote attempt 1:

When I was in high school I met a girl named Kathy and we were fast friends. She was very warm and inviting with a huge smile. What I remember most about Kathy was that she always had a boy named Eric on her arm. They would kiss in the halls and frequently pass notes between each other. Kathy would proudly read the love notes from her man to us during lulls in our choir class. All of the girls in our class who had the privilege of reading the love notes felt special.

And the day after their graduation, Eric asked Kathy to marry him. She was so excited! And we were all excited for them too.

A few years back, I ran in to Kathy while we were both visiting our old school. I asked her about her husband, as they had tied the knot the year prior. Kathy got a solemn look on her face and confessed that she and Eric had split. They were getting divorced and she was currently single.

Scene attempt 1:

The Blue House. Those words haunt me even to this day. As a child, I was raised in a fairly large, split level 2 story house with my mother, 3 siblings, and her husband and his 4 kids. The Blue House. Imagine yelling, food throwing, tears. The Blue House. Every nightmare that I have starts within those 4 walls or the cracked gray concrete walkway that leads to the front door. And even as I aged and all of my siblings moved out, I remained. A lonely child with a mother and a stranger daddy.

Now, the scene that I’ve just described is not uncommon. Most children today are raised by adults who are not their birth parents.

Quote attempt 1:

Nicholas H. Wolfinger discussed the abomination that is the divorce cycle when he explained, “Many families have more than 1 child; having grown up in divorced families, these children will be more likely to end their own marriages. Thus, divorce can affect many future marriages. The transmission of divorce between generations, in short, can be thought of as a cascade. Ending a marriage starts a cycle that threatens to affect increasing numbers of people over time, a sobering thought in an era when half of all new marriages fail” (4-5). Wolfinger is the Assistant Professor of the Department of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah. He is also the Assistant Professor of Sociology at the U of U who has spent his entire career researching the “intergenerational transmission of divorce.”

I’m not really a fan of any of these leads and I will work on finalizing a beginning with the few remaining days that I have left. I really liked the example by Ballenger’s student, Ashley, on page 265 of The Curious Researcher that started the story with a scene lead. Ashley brought to life the characters in the pub and how the bartender’s face paled at sad news. I was thoroughly captivated by her writing on a subject that I wouldn’t usually have been interested in.

Scene leads seem to be a great way to pull readers in who may not initially feel connected to your topic. I imagine that if I were to start my essay from the scene of a broken home, maybe that would spark a memory for my reader. Or maybe if I were to start my essay with a scene of a wholesome family, that might spark a sense of desire for my reader. That sense of desire is why I am writing my essay! I what my readers to spread the word that divorce should not be a norm anymore!

I think I will focus my energy on writing a better scene lead.

Happy writing!

❤ Siarra

Fast Write on Divorce

What are the causes of the high divorce rate in the United States? is my newest topic question for my ten page paper.

In class today, I met with Rachael Heath and she probed me for information on my topic…

Rachael began by asking me, “Why should I care about the high divorce rate?” I answered that 90% of Americans get married and if 50% of those marriages fail, your personal happiness is at stake here, people (Wolfinger)!

Most people see marriage as a way to be close to another person when they crave intimacy and want companionship. The way I see marriage is that marriage is a life time (and beyond) experience that is more than just feel good right now. It pains my heart to see so many couples call it quits because they’ve “fallen out of love.” I don’t believe you can fall out of love, I believe either one, you weren’t ever in love or two, you’ve let time heal your wounds and you’re lying about not being in love anymore.

It surprised me that children of divorce are at least 50% likely to get divorced in their own marriages (Wolfinger). I mean, I assumed that children of divorce would find it more acceptable to get divorced because they’ve seen it done before (and potentially became desensitized to the idea) but 50% or more is astounding to me! (And it should be to you too!)

My main points, so far anyway, are that the divorce rate is so high because of societal shifts, economic changes, and problematic individual circumstances.

I Want to Interview YOU on the Topic of Marriage!

If you are married or divorced (or both!) or if you have an opinion on why people get divorced, let me know! I want to pick your brain! Just make sure to tell me which category(ies) you fall under!

Listed below are questions posed by my English 102 professor, Lindsay Christopher, to me on my “Ethnographic Research” strategies. It’s all just a fancy way of saying “Living Sources.”

Q: How could you use ethnographic research for your project?

A: I can use ethnographic research for my project by interviewing divorcees or even married people to gain insight into what their theories on marriage are.

Q: How can you use ethnographic research to “fill in the gaps” of your library research?

A: I can use stories of individuals to “fill in the gaps” of my library research by using personal accounts of marriage “gone wrong” or the opinions of real housewives.

Q: Which methods do you think you’ll pursue to gather more data?

A: I plan to use interviews and read encyclopedias to gather more data. I also plan on using field work, by recording my experiences with marriage and that of my married/ divorced friends.

Q: If some methods don’t seem appropriate, why not?

A: I don’t plan on using surveys because they would take too much time.

Q: How can becoming a researcher/ storyteller enrich your essay?

A: I think becoming a researcher/ storyteller can help to enrich my essay because it will breathe life into my words and research! People will feel the passion I have for successful marriages and hopefully I can make a change in the world.

Paraphrase: Complexity of Communication within Families

We use language to communicate our thoughts, be it to convey fear or comfort. When we express ourselves to others, strong relationships are cultivated. When we talk to those closest to us, including our family, we are looking for acceptance and to be appreciated as our own individual. Sadly, often times we are met by harsh and personal judgments. And the worst part is, because we are close to the person, possibly even family, we remember all conversations with them, to which we draw further meaning.

The Holocaust and the Shaping of My Journey

I was born in a split family. One side of my family is Jewish and from Israel and Romania.

I have always felt a strong connection to my Jewish roots and I celebrate a few Jewish customs within my home. My husband and I celebrate “Christmakkuh.”  It’s Christmas (because we are Christians) and Hanukkah (because I identify with many Jewish traditions) combined for a really fun, albeit interesting, holiday.

For this English 102 assignment, our teacher has asked us to write about a topic that we plan to research. I have chosen to study on the Holocaust in hopes that as I explore my culture’s past, I can find answers that will help guide my future.

I know that the Holocaust took place around 1945 and that my Gambeenie (my grandmother) would have been in her early adolescent years. I wish I could ask her about her experiences.

Some questions I plan to answer in my 10 page paper are:

  • How long did the Holocaust last?
  • How many people died during the Holocaust?
  • How many camps were there to hold Jews and the others deemed unfit?
  • How many Nazi leaders were there?
  • What brought Hitler to such a hatred of the Jews?
  • How many Nazis were there?
  • What types of people were picked up by the Nazis?
  • Which groups don’t believe that the Holocaust ever happened?
  • Why would a group believe that the Holocaust never happened?
  • Why did Nazis not rebel?
  • What caused “nice” people to commit mass murder?
  • How many Holocaust survivors are alive today?
  • How many people were put in camps?
  • Which countries were allies to the Nazis?
  • Which countries were not allies to the Nazis?
  • What was the American President’s take on the situation?
  • Who was America’s president at the time of the Holocaust?
  • Where did the majority of Jews and the like flee?
  • Where were all the different places Jews and the like fled to?
  • What else was happening in the world during the 1940s and time of the Holocaust?
  • Where did my relatives flee?
  • How did Hitler have such ultimate control over people?
  • What happened to people who decided not to become Nazis?
  • Did anybody decide to not follow Hitler?
  • What happened to Hitler’s family after his disappearance?
  • How did the public feel about Hilter’s actions in the 1940s?
  • How did the media portray the Holocaust in the 1940s?
  • What events in history led to WWII and the Holocaust?
  • Why do I feel such a deep connection to my ancestors?
  • How did Hitler get weapons?
  • Was Hitler well educated?
  • What are some theories on Hitler’s mental state?
  • What are different ways the Nazis killed people during the Holocaust?
  • Were any Jews captured and used for other purposes?

I hope that by answering these questions (and the other page of questions I have) I will come to a deeper understanding of the Holocaust.