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Winning Essay


Cynthia Nelson
Tacoma Community College
Tacoma, WA
(Instructor: Professor Joelle Pretty)


The Tools of a Master Student


I have in my possession a signed and sealed certificate conferred upon me September 20, 2001. I have earned the degree of Master Student, with all the honors, rights, privileges, and responsibilities thereunto appertaining. This document represents the successful completion of an important course in my educational process. Studying the book "Becoming a Master Student" by Dave Ellis, I picked up several tools that are invaluable in the educational trade.

As with any master craftsperson, I found a few tools that became the most valuable to me. The learning styles, and time management tools, as well as the diversity and critical thinking skills tools are among my favorites. In addition to filling my toolbox, this course has challenged me to look honestly at myself. To weed out any preconceived notions about people, to think "outside the box" and to set long-term as well as short-term goals. I even found a tool to help me to not only plan my days by the hour, week, or academic year, but even take steps now to affect my life twenty or thirty years from now. I find this long-range goal-setting to be very rewarding and motivating.

Another important tool is learning to face my obstacles and challenges, followed by writing an intention statement of how I intend to overcome them. Some of the challenges I currently face as a non-traditional student include time restraint and over-commitment. It is a constant battle to stay focused and on target with my long-term goals. Deciding which courses to take, which books to read first and recognizing where I can truly make a difference in my school, community and world are among my most prevalent battles.

To overcome these obstacles I will continue to use the tools of time management and effective goal setting. The tool called " I create it all" (122) is a very valuable and necessary tool for every toolbox. This idea basically teaches that I have to choose whether I will be a victim or take responsibility for my life. According to the author, I decide who will control my life. Although some circumstances are truly out of my hands, I choose my thoughts and responses to each situation. As a Master Student, I will maintain a positive attitude, and keep my eyes open to the needs around me. Willingness to listen with an open mind is a constant objective for me. I try to be open and willing to change, though I admit it is difficult to let go of my assumptions. It is vital to me to be continually evaluating my behavior, taking responsibility for all areas of my life.

I currently possess the tool of motivation. This drive to learn comes from within; I truly value and enjoy learning. There will never be enough time in my life to study all the subjects that I am interested in! My long-term goals would include working with adult literacy, perhaps with new immigrants to the United States. Helping others gain the ability to successfully communicate in English opens many doors to them. There is great personal satisfaction in knowing that you might have helped another person find and use these valuable tools for themselves.

My life experiences have afforded me a unique set of tools. I try to use the tools that I have mastered to help others to succeed. By involving myself with others, I can share what I have learned thus far. Some of my goals will have to wait until I have completed my education, but many of them are being realized right now. In the smaller world of Tacoma Community College I have found many opportunities to help and encourage others. I especially enjoy tutoring and helping new students become acclimated with TCC, and college life in general.

The Master Student certificate will serve as a reminder to me that I am, indeed, a Master Student. The many lessons learned in this course are the tools of my trade. As a Master Student I now possess every tool necessary to reach my academic goals. My skills will increase as I hone my techniques, becoming more and more familiar with each tool in my toolbox. Learning through persistence which tools are best suited for which jobs. The application of this knowledge will move me to the level of artistry, where my creativity will shine through in all areas of my life and work.


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