3690: A Journal of First-Year Student Research Writing

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Overview: It's not uncommon to hear about mental illness in the current year. For some, it serves as a fuel for artistic expression. But for others, it's a haunting plague looming in the shadows. For a long time, mental illness has been something people never talk about. Because it is not physically tangible, there are people out there who are skeptical of the legitimacy of mental illnesses. As a result, mental illnesses have been given a bad reputation over the years. These conditions have been on the rise, which means these problems will only get worse.

Author's Reflection: My name is David Gregory and I am a psychology major at St. John Fisher College. I've been fascinated by the mind since I was a teenager. After some soul searching, I came to develop a passion for psychology, specifically abnormal psychology. After my undergrad years, I plan to pursue a doctoral degree with a focus on clinical psychology. For my paper, I wanted to integrate my passion of the mind with the theme of my research writing course, Literature in Adolescence. In young adult books, I noticed the theme of characters struggling with different mental illnesses. And with the presence of mental illness, stigma played a large role in the characters' struggles. And with these factors, I was able to put together the groundwork for what my paper would be about.

My greatest challenge when writing this paper was self-imposed. I wanted to try implementing more than simply research papers for my sources. Books and academic papers are essential for credibility. But, other mediums can provide a unique perspective and add flavor to what many would perceive as a "boring research paper." At the very beginning of the paper, I decided to include an original poem. "The Prisoner" was written specifically with the paper in mind and functions as a means to set the tone of it. The poem intends to capture the thoughts and feelings of a person struggling with a psychological condition. The idea of adding a song was a later addition and functioned as a connection to our daily lives beyond the realm of research. These two ideas helped to make the writing process much more fun, but also presented challenges in themselves.

My 199 research writing course was helpful in making me a much better writer. Research writing was an area I had thought was weaker overall. Refining and applying skills I had learned in the class, as well as over the years, was a big takeaway from the course. Here, I learned to utilize several writing techniques and develop a strong research paper. One of the biggest things I took away from this course and paper was the ability to be creative in expressing research findings. It doesn't have to be boring and bland to be considered a valid research paper.

Professor Barry's Reflection Stigma is something that many of us have experienced. That is why David Gregory's paper "Invisible Pain: Stigma and Mental Illness in Young Adult Literature" is so relevant today with social media occupying young adults' attention so much. But it is isn't just David's paper that made me realize his writing potential but his inquisitiveness to learn how to make his writing what he really wanted it to express. During our "writing chats," David would ask if he could add this or that to his paper because he thought those elements would make the reader see his point clearer. One such addition was his poem at the beginning of the paper, which did add something special to the reading. I was also fortunate to have David for two consecutive semesters and saw his writing blossom to what I hoped for him and hoped for himself. Enjoy his writing about stigma and how young adult literature make us see it in a new light. I did.

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