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This semester I took a residential course called Intersections of Race, Gender, and

Social Class in Second Language Learning and I did an internship in Global Engineering
Engagement. The greatest thing that I took away from the Curriculum and Instruction
course is that I am now constantly aware of how marginalization occurs and is replicated
through language. I have become so critical of how language is used that I now spend a
lot of time analyzing the language that people are using, including myself. Although it is
challenging to be hyper-aware of marginalizing discourse, I hope to use this to truly
create an inclusive environment as a professional in higher education and to defend those
who may be experiencing marginalization in any way. My greatest takeaway from the
internship is that I now have a genuine understanding of the operations of Global
Programs. Previously it was very difficult to comprehend the scope of GP and to be able
to navigate the information. After working with 25 study abroad programs in the College
of Engineering, I finally feel comfortable with the systems and operations of GP.

This semester was completely different from my other semesters because I was
on-campus and in departments that were not my field of study. I struggled academically
because I had not taken a graduate-level course on-campus and the nature of my writing
assignments was different. I did a semester-long research study where I recruited
participants and gathered information regarding their experiences in language learning. I
overcame the challenges by meeting my professor often and by persevering despite the
setbacks. I also struggled in my internship because I was not used to being in an on-
campus setting in a different College. I experienced a loss of identity being away from
World Campus, which would be regained again when I had meetings for the long-term
project that I was working on from my previous internship there. As I worked through the
difficulties I became more appreciative of the differences between units and Colleges and
of my particular place within Penn State. Knowing that this would be my only semester
on-campus provided me a perfect amount of time to experience areas outside of World
Campus and to work on my professional development in ways that were new to me.

I expanded my academic literacies and habits of mind through my research study


and constant analysis of marginalizing discourse. I read countless case studies about
experiences in language related to race, gender, social class, and sexual orientation, and
then I based my research paper on these studies. The writing felt different because I had
to use self-reflexivity as a researcher for the first time and I found it difficult to insert my
experiences into the paper. I have also grown in my ability to suspend judgment and to
think more carefully about the language and the voice that I am using and what the basis
for this really is. I had never considered how much power is in my voice and language,
but now I am constantly aware of what I am reflecting and revealing through my speech.
I have become highly critical of the language that other people are using in my daily life,
in the news, and in institutional dialogues. I feel that I am better able to respond critically
to what is presented to me.

My social learning and communication competencies also improved greatly as I


was in a residential graduate class for the first time and most of the students were Ph.D.
students. Since the subject of the course was about marginalization through language, I
learned how to be more mindful of audience and context as I became more critical of my
language. The first half of our class was usually dedicated to discussing the readings in
line with the broader topics so I had to think more quickly than I do in the discussion
boards that I usually use and I didnt have a lot of time to think. I found it generally more
restrictive to have the discussions this way because the same issues that we were studying
in the course played out in our classroom and it affected my contribution. With regard to
the internship I was grateful to have been able to work with the distance intern as we
created the fact sheets for students. I found it very rewarding to see the product of our
individual projects as we combined our work at the end of the semester. I also learned
how to make a recorded presentation in my class to present my research findings and Im
surprised that I never learned how to do this before. I plan on using this technology
because I think that it is one of the most useful technologies that Ive learned.

My professional capabilities have grown because of the theme of inclusion that


was present in my studies this semester. As I desire to become a student engagement
professional or adviser, I think about how greatly I have advanced in my awareness of
how to make a more inclusive environment for people and to respect the identity issues
that people are grappling with. I also find it comforting to learn about research that
confirms these issues and this is something that I would like to pass on to students in the
future so that they know they are not alone in their struggles. I have also learned how to
use the same awareness with colleagues. For example, at the Diversity Conference I
listened to the struggles of minority faculty members and what we can do to address these
incidents if we ever come across them in the workplace. The awareness that I have gained
about marginalization and inclusion has made me very passionate about being more
intentional in my daily practices and about the kind of professional that I want to be.

I think that the topics around marginalization and inclusion that I learned about
this semester could not be more timely as higher education institutions are striving
towards inclusivity in an age of incredible diversity. I also consider the research in terms
of the work that I was doing in my internship. Rather than focusing on the surface-level
benefits of study abroad, I have started to dwell on the deeper benefits that are rarely
discussed and this is another pool of knowledge that I would like to use with students in
the future. Now that I have more understanding of identity, I feel excited to work with all
types of students and to learn about their experiences. Every semester I become more
open to the issues of students I have never learned about before and the possibilities there
are to keep learning more as a student engagement professional. Lastly, I find that when I
converse with undergraduates I frequently will cite research or try to connect them to
resources. At the beginning of my program I couldnt understand how to break away from
the undergraduate view that I had of myself and knew that others had of me, but the more
that I do and learn in my program, the greater the distance I feel between the
undergraduate way of life and me. I feel more and more prepared to be a full-time
professional on-campus.