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Winning Essay

Suny Urrutia Moore
Aims Community College
Fort Lupton – Loveland, CO
(Instructor: Professors Karen H. Soutar and Keith Reierstad)

What is a Master Student?

A small child attends a rural parochial school in a third world country in South America. In order to get to school, she has to walk a mile on a dirt road twice daily. Her supplies are a notebook, pencil, an eraser, and a yellow–brown old book borrowed from the school. The beginning of her education comes at a price. Can there be a "master student" in her?

Because education is important to her family, they make arrangements for her to finish elementary grades in a city school. To continue her education, the child attends the Superior Institute of Commerce, which is a combination of high school and business school. Throughout the seven–year program, memorization is the main strategy for learning which awards her a "C" average grade. She could excel, but this education system doesn't teach any strategies to succeed as a student. In fact, this deficiency will carry through into later years. The small child becomes a young adult, and the small child is I, the author of this essay.

In the late 1970's, I was offered the opportunity to come to the United States of America. This was to be a radical change, which involved not only leaving my native country, Chili, but also family and friends, a successful accounting career, and familiar surroundings. All of my possessions would be exchanged for a different country and society, unfamiliar environment, and a strange language. So I took the opportunity to move, and when I arrived in this country, I realized that I had a problem: I couldn't communicate with others! I accepted this problem and experienced the language barrier, but I did what was necessary to learn how to speak English and become fully bilingual. Furthermore, I found myself in a different culture, but I learned about it and adapted to it. I feel fortunate that I have been enriched with values from two different culture, but I learned about it and adapted to it. I feel fortunate that I have been enriched with values from two different cultures. For the last 14 years, my main focus has been taking care of my family. In addition, I have held a position as a bilingual paraprofessional for the last few years. Being willing to change, accepting the discomforts that come with it, and taking risks are qualities of the "master student". Without realizing it, I was exercising these qualities all along.

When I had the opportunity to attend college in the summer of 1999, it wasn't an easy decision to make as I had planned to spend a relaxed summer with my children. As a non–traditional student, I felt insecure, not only about my learning ability because I had been away from school for 28 years, but also because I had never learned good study skills. Besides, I would have to study in my second language. For these reasons, it took courage for me to return to school and experience something new. This is the way the "master student" would respond.

When I began school, one of the first classes I took was the "master student" course. Through it, I learned about the areas where I needed improvement, but also I became aware of the qualities and abilities that I do posses. Through the different activities and informal discussions, I felt relaxed, comfortable , and became fully involved, asking questions and participating in every possible way. As a result of this involvement, my communication skills improved, as well as my self–esteem. The "master student" class opened up to me many strategies that I use daily. For instance, I enjoy learning actively, by reading aloud or walking as I read. I study when I'm rested and my mind is fresh and receptive. In addition, when I have the opportunity, I enjoy studying with groups. As I continue my studies toward an Associates of Arts degree with an emphasis in bilingual education, I feel confident and better equipped to meet the demands of my present and future courses.

The "master student" strategies are not only applied to studying; they are all–encompassing tools that I use for success in life. Applying time management skills has helped me set priorities. For instance, I have learned to postpone doing chores that aren't indispensable and to eliminate non–productive Activities (like watching television or long phone conversations) in order to have enough time for studying or cooking nutritious meals for my family.

Through the "master student" class, I learned that we are all leaders, and to see myself as such was an extraordinary discovery. Even though I am " a behind the scenes" type of person, this lesson helped me realize I am a leader. I manage my household, delegate chores to my family and demonstrate to my children how to be responsible students. When I teach elementary school children, I encourage and praise them in their learning. They lookup to me because I am able to help and listen to them. Returning to school as an adult gives me an advantage because of my maturity and commitment to education. I work and study diligently, attend classes regularly, and enthusiastically participate in the classroom discussions.

Even though the beginning of the small child's education wasn't easy, she did the best with what she had. The young adult grasped at opportunities and was open to changes in her environment and herself. As an adult, I now eagerly pursue higher education and continue to discover the natural learner within. I will walk joyfully through the doors of opportunity and taste success. Therefore, I am now convinces that I am a "master student".