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Winning Essay


Nancy E. Patterson
Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell
Roswell, NM
(Instructor: Professor Jan Tharp)


What is a Master Student?

Could a little old lady almost sixty years old be a Master Student? Her declining energies, rusty study skills and aging mind surely would be against her. These thoughts assailed me as I found my seat in our College Survival class.

"Ideas are tools," we learned. A Master Student needs to try new tools.

"Tools…" I thought. "Oh, I know tools; I use them to adjust my sewing machine. I understand tools."

"Use them, or put them back on the shelf," we read. Did I not tell our children that? I can handle this. I smile.

Such wonderful tools we Master Students learn to use. Group Study. Can you imagine this rugged individualist joining a study group? "Wastes time," I mutter. O K,

I should ask, "What if this idea is true? What if this idea is valuable?" A Master Student tries new tools. Twice students from our class met in the library to study together. I was there. I came kicking and screaming, but I was there.

What a surprise! The cheerful enthusiasm of the younger students was contagious. I soon began to believe that, possibly, I could do this. Many of the students were well prepared, reciting facts in a convincing way. Now, I was privileged to hear the subject material a second time, even a third or fourth time in different voices. As I listened to them, my understanding grew.

During my study, I ventured a few answers myself. Stumbling through explanations, I perceived ragged gaps in my knowledge. "Whew," I thought. "I need to go over these points some more." So I did that. What benefit I received from group study! A few days later, like a Master Student. I buzzed through a test on the subject our group was studying, confident and well familiarized with the material. Group study proved to be a splendid tool.

Another tool was so useful I dared not put it down, Recite, Review, and Review Again. This old gal was seen scotch taping three-by-five cards on the tiles behind her kitchen sink. The cards were full of facts and dates. What was that monotone the family heard over the clink and slosh of dishwashing sounds? Few dared ask. The intrepid might find themselves pigeon-holed into listening to the history of English literature, 1660 to 1835. Some witnesses are even claiming they have seen a gray-haired specter at the chalkboard after hours sketching the three models of interpersonal communication: linear, interactive, and transactional. Recite, review and review again, I cannot put it down.

When I found my now favorite tool, I nearly threw it away. Power Process # 5, I create it all. No one "creates it all," I reasoned. That tool should be tossed. What could that possible mean? Did that make sense? Hmm…to what degree are we responsible for our circumstances? I was hooked. I picked it up. I turned it over and over. Could I use this curious tool?

Could I use this new concept to change my perceptions of my circumstances and myself? Hesitantly, I tried it out. If I create it all, then I have choices. This idea fascinated me. If I have choice, then I have power. I have the power to change my circumstances, or at least, my responses to them. With power I have a fighting chance. This new sense of courage enabled me to try new techniques. Some did not seem to work for me, but many more did. New courage, new ideas, new successes, I was learning how to learn and liking it.

How thankful I am that someone cared enough to show me that even this little old lady could become a Master Student, and what is that really? A Master Student is one who open-mindedly learns how to learn and then courageously keeps at it.


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