Final English Self Assessment

Cureton, Alexis

ENG 106WS-08

Professor Peterson

May 8, 2012

Self Assessment Essay

Switching Gears: Going from Getting by to Excelling

            My first year of college is quickly coming to a close and each day I am bombarded with a plethora of questions. Majority of the questions that I have been asked ranged from “how does it feel?” to “how do you think you did this semester?”  Not once was I asked “what did you learn” and to me, this is the most important question of all. For a thirty thousand dollar price tag I better have learned something and indeed I have. I have learned that in order to be a good student I must able to adapt to my teacher’s teaching method. In a way, I must be like a Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhardt and be good at switching gears because failure to do so will result in a crash or in my case a bad grade. The switching of my gears was a difficult one I must admit. I went from a somewhat precarious professor to one who debunks the theory that college professors are pushovers. But I wouldn’t change places with anyone despite the ups and downs I faced because the knowledge that I have gained is priceless and I transformed into a better writer.

This transformation occurred in my second semester English class with my teacher Professor Peterson. The improvement of my work came overtime and is seen throughout my assignments, but my progress is most evident in three of my major and minor works. Both, my first and final drafts of select works will be provided so my growth can be seen. The three major artifacts that I am choosing to include are my literary analysis, my slave narrative prospectus, along with my slave narrative paper, and lastly my collaborative history research presentation partnered with my final history paper in CMS. The minor artifacts that I am choosing to highlight include my business packet, and two of my weekly blogs ”Black love is Beauitful” “cause effects of being an athlete” and business packet.

The first piece of work that I will examine is in my opinion, my best work within my major artifacts. This piece of work is my literary analysis first draft. I believe this is my best work because it was towards the end of the year and during this time I gained a lot of skills that helped better my writing. For example, I learned to incorporate TRI within all my papers. TRI stands for Topic Restriction and Illustration. This strategy helps guide the paper along instead of just having it just wonder all over the place. In the beginning of writing my initial draft, I felt was great. I met all the criteria requirements. These requirements include: three pages of texts, an academic title and a critical framework. Also, I felt that I gave a good analysis of what Nathaniel Hawthorne was saying with his work Young “Goodman Brown” and TRI was included. Despite how I felt it, ultimately fell upon my professor’s shoulders. Upon receiving my comments, coupled with my low score my heart sank but it was leveled out by the uplifting comments. To my dismay, it turns out that in my original draft I left out a few critical things that make a paper a paper. There was a dearth of detail on what Hawthorne was trying to convey with his work. In place of writing what the work meant I wrote about what happened. This is not a literary analysis. This was not the only mistake I made. For instance, I didn’t have three full pages of text; I did not have a work cited page and most importantly I forgot to integrate an intriguing thesis. Without a thesis my essay was not an essay at all instead it was just pages full of opinions, no organized thought.

I blame this fully on the gear that I was stuck in. I thought since the year was concluding I could begin to slow down but I was told in my comments from my professor that a good student would turn it to fourth gear because this is the final lap.  So with the conclusion of my literary analysis final draft I adapted to what my teacher asked for and I made sure to rectify these previous mistakes. I did this by including three full pages. My critical frame work was from a historic point of view. My work cited page was present and my thesis was more than detailed. And as a whole my analysis had a relevant introduction, body, and conclusion that tied back into the thesis.

Although I did not do as well as I wanted to do on my literary analysis I still gained I great deal of knowledge on how to make it better. And most importantly progress was made. But it was not always like this. The major artifact before this one, my research prospectus first draft and Slave Narrative Paper were mundane. For starters, my prospectus was a colossal failure. I did not have a very good academic title. My thesis was basically nonexistent and there were a great number of grammatical errors. The central problem seemed to be that there was no TRI.  With no TRI there is no paper. This starts with having a strong thesis though. It is like driving a race car. You have to have good tires and a good engine, but the heart of the car is the driver. With no driver the car does not move. Same with a paper, with no thesis the paper cannot be written there is no direction. In order to fix these mistakes I had to be a more meticulous writer. I had to nitpick at every little detail and make sure everything matched up. With my revised prospectus, I added a better thesis the best I could but everything else I let be. I did this for the simple fact that I had absolutely nothing to write about and the fact that I did not want to write the paper did not help. Sadly, because of this choice my grade suffered. This occurred for one reason and one reason only.  I was not able to get a good grade because I had not read the entire work that I was to be analyzing and my grade on both assignments reflected that. I fixed the grammatical errors and outside threading of the paper but in regards to the meat of the paper I had none. The TRI method that I mentioned previously in my literary analysis of course was not in this paper either because I had not yet learned how to use this method properly.

My slave narrative prospectus and slave narrative paper are perfect examples of me not being able to fully adapt to my teacher’s method but knowledge was still gained and a gear was switched. This switch in gears is evident in my final major artifact. This last artifact is my Collaborative History Research Presentation and my Final History Research Paper. Before doing this specific assignment I had the propensity to do history papers last minute because usually history papers are easier to write. Thanks to prior experiences and the growth that I had in my English class, I decided against it and made up my mind to start early. This is an example of my teacher’s method rubbing off on me. This method forces you to be diligent and prolific. Anything less is unsatisfactory and will lead to precarious situations down the road. The head start really helped me gather and organize my thoughts and ideas for my presentation. Luckily, my niche is public speaking and the presentation aspect was going to be a breeze. The gathering of the content that I wanted to convey was the tricky part. I had to first formulate a thesis which by now was a lot easier than it had been previously with my research prospectus because I researched a great deal about what I wanted to write on. My topic was on the Haitian revolution and what made it unique.

Next I had to apply the concept of SPA. This is important because SPA always helps you form your paper, essay, speech etc. SPA means Subject Purpose and Audience. This is applied to any type of writing, blog, or speech. In regards to my presentation my subject was the Haitian Revolution, my purpose was to educate my audience on what the Haitian Revolution was and what made it special. And lastly my audience included my peers along with my professor. In the end, my assiduous attitude along with prayer led me to getting an A on the assignment. To place a cherry on top, my professor left laudatory comments on the assignment rubric. The good feeling that I had from this presentation carried over to my final history paper and I did better than I expected. I ended up earning a B-. I credit the success of these assignments to my adaptation of what is expected of me and my ability to use the tools that are giving to me to perfect my work. These actions in the end make me a superior writer.

Certainly, my growth did not end or is not confined to just my major artifacts. My improvement also had an effect on my minor assignments. That is not to say that growing pains were not felt in the process. This is especial distinct in my first minor assignment that I would like to highlight. That is my blog entitled “Black Love is Beautiful”. Before getting to the analysis aspect of this work I need to set the stage for what made this difficult for me. Every week my teacher expected us to write a weekly blog about anything that occurred that week as long as it can be shared in an academic setting. Initially, this did not seem like a tall order until the first one was due. I honestly had no idea what I was going to write about and what made it worse was that I waited to the last minute to start the assignment. And I did this on multiple occasions all because I was not in the right gear. Problems with my blog included lack of depth and incite. It did not help that it did not meet the minimum two hundred and fifty word requirement either. Other then these two things the biggest issue I continued to face with these weekly blogs was time management.

However, I was not completely out of the race and like an iguana, I adapted to my surroundings and made time for these weekly blogs each week hence forth. This is adaptation to my crutch that used to hinder my abilities is visible in another one of my weekly blogs entitled “cause and effect of being an athlete”. In it, I met every single requirement needed for me to receive an A. I exceeded the word obligation and the content was pungent with stimulating thoughts. I was able to excel on this blog because I identified my mistakes, revisited and proofread my work and last I switched gears from being lazy and unorganized to studious and on top of my game in first place. This is proven with the crown jewel of my minor assignments which is my Business_Packet. This task called for us to include a cover letter, a resume, and a thank you letter. Although I did not receive a high grade, I received something better which is an example or taste of what I will have to do in the future. Now that I have gained experience in researching a job in the future, it won’t be hard because I have done it before. And this experience is invaluable. It has allowed me to be a greater writer then I was beforehand.

The knowledge and wherewithal that I have gained from this English class is something that will stick with me during my matriculation through Clark Atlanta University. Mainly I will not forget the TRI and SPA methods of writing. But the life lessons as well. Previous to being in Professor Peterson’s class I was in another English class that did not challenge me. I was lazy and my writing suffered for it. Basically I was cruising in first gear. Upon being thrust into Peterson’s class I learned how to shift from first to fourth gear although the transition was not an easy one. But the pain is definitely outweighed by the gain. I have no regrets about changing teachers because it was for my betterment. The ultimate goal of every college student is graduation but if along the way no one challenges you what is the point? You have gained nothing for the price of admission except a handful or hangovers and stomach aches from the café food. All and all, I had a great experience in this class.

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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in English WS 106


Being an Adult

So the week leading up to the climax of my freshman year has been an interesting one. I’m sure my friends from back home would definitely give me laudatory gesture upon my return home. It all began when my sister offered me her car for the weekend to take care of her dog. At first, I was a little nervous but then I realized I had to be audacious because this opportunity doesn’t come around often. This was for sure a grown up decision. It is amazing how each day I grow just a little bit more into an adult. In the past, I had the propensity to shy away from situations like this. Why? I do not know the answer to this question but I do know that the man I want to be would not turn this down. But I digress. I dropped my sister off at the Marta train station and my journey began. I would soon have to make my first drive on the highway to my sister’s house for the first time alone. This is no mundane experience. I had to be extremely meticulous as I weaved my way through traffic from my dorm. This is another part of being an adult driving from your workplace back home. After finally getting to my sister’s place the responsibilities bestowed upon on me came about. They all came in the form of a 3 month old pitbull named Bentley. Anyone who is able to handle this dog deserves kudos because he is such a hand full. It is almost like having to take care of a young child. He must usurp control dominance must be established if not he will do whatever he wants to you. Once that aspect of the relationship between the dog and I was established I had a blast with him. Honestly, he started to grow on me. Along with tending to the dog I had to balance studying my finals and my social life too. This was no easy feet. But one thing I learned while being in college is that the only way to be prolific is to be find a way or make one in any type of situation. This sums up what it takes to be an adult. To my readers, have you ever had to grow up and in a hurry? If so, I how did you do so and what did you have to do?

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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in English WS 106


History E-Portfolio


1. 1500 and beyond

2. Industrial revolution

3. American Imperialism

4. Pan-Africanism  

Blog (revision)

Industrial revolution (revision)

Main assignments

Annotated Bibliography 

Paper proposal 

Final Draft 

Main assignment (revision)

Reflective Essay

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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in History


End of the Year Reflective Essay

Alexis Cureton

History CHIS 202

April 2, 2012

End of the year Reflective Essay

Wrapping things up: Learning from Criticism

            It is amazing to think that my first year of being a college student is quickly coming to a close. I would have never thought I would ever get to this point. I am extremely pleased with the progress that I have made but of course growing pains occurred along the way. As a child, I always hated to be told to go and try something again because I felt like whenever I did something for the first time nothing could ever top that. When this is applied to my school work, this feeling intensifies! It can be easily stated that I have yet to grow out of that mentality of knowing and learning that you can always improve something until the final draft is due. But the beauty of college is that you can trash old habits and adopt new ones. I had to do this when writing my blogs and essays in my History class this year.

I had a number of blogs this semester that I believed were rock star essays that no one could top but sadly my teacher every time brought me back to reality. It was not as if the grades I was receiving back were terrible. I just have a standard and I do not like it when I do not reach it. For example, our first blog for this semester was to blog about some of the most prominent events that occurred in the 15th century to contemporary times. Unlike everyone else, I chose events I knew no one else would chose just to be unique because I know as a teacher it becomes redundant reading over and over again the same things. Unfortunately, I was not rewarded for my bravery instead I felt like I was punished. This assignment in particular I chose not to revise because I felt that I should have to shown favoritism because my unique way of writing my blog.       Another blog that I chose not to revise was an in class write about the industrial revolution. For this assignment we had to look at four pictures on the board and decipher how they applied to the industrial revolution. Of course, I was extremely eager to write about this because I like analyzing picture music or art into my own words. Oh and did I add that there was a time limit. So upon finishing my blog, I felt once again that I went above and beyond the call of what was asked of me. So receiving a grade of an A or less was unacceptable. I needed up getting a B. Once again I felt cheated so once again I did not revise the work. But I went about reading the comments a different way. Instead of focusing on what I feel I did best on I changed gears and looked at what I did not do well so the next time I can get that A that I want.

Once I was able to make this change my grades improved. This was evident for my next blog on Pan-Africanism. I believed this grade was higher then the previous one because I hit all the cylinders. I had data also known as dates. I had my own insight supported by credible quotes. And lastly, my thesis and conclusion worked as a great tandem. They were both relatable. Previously, my thesis would argue one thing but my conclusion would conclude another argument. That is one of the problems I was able to identify with my writing. Often times I had have some many ideas on paper but they were never connected in any type of way.

This helped tremendously with my final paper for history. It was an essay on the Haitian Revolution. In the beginning I had a great head of steam. I had thoughts and ideas that I wanted to incorporate but they needed to correlate.  I was able to do this through TRI which is first forming a good Topic, then applying a Restrictive sentence that allows for the writer to specify what they want to focus on. Then lastly, Illustration. This can easily be done with quotes or factual evidence. Upon completion of this paper I believed I had put my heart into this essay and my grade would reflect that. I was satisfied with a B because I know I still had a few errors within my writing because I am still honing my craft. And I am ok with that because I know that I have grown a great deal since the beginning of the semester. One thing I learned my the criticism I have received on my work Is that it is not how you start but how you finish and I know I have finished strong.

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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in History


Paper Proposal (revision)

A revolution occurs when the ruling power over a nation needs to be replaced. It is a forcible overthrow of a government or social order for a new system. Like wars, many revolutions have occurred over time, throughout the history of America, but none matching the historical importance of the Haitian Revolution. What role did the notable martyr General Toussaint L’Ouverture play in the Haitian revolution? This revolution that occurred in the 18th century is unable to be ignored by historical researchers but why? All revolutions occur for a reason. I want to know why, and what caused the Haitian Revolution to occur, who played major roles, and did the Haitian people ever reach their goal for freedom?

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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in History


Final Draft (History)

Domino Affect: The Haitian Revolution

            A revolution occurs when the ruling power over a nation needs to be replaced. It is a forcible overthrow of a government or social order for a new system. Like wars, many revolutions have occurred over time, throughout the history of America, but none matching the historical importance of the Haitian Revolution. What role did the notable martyr General Toussaint L’Ouverture play in the Haitian revolution? This revolution that occurred in the 18th century is unable to be ignored by historical researchers but why? All revolutions occur for a reason. I want to know why, and what caused the Haitian Revolution to occur, who played major roles, and did the Haitian people ever reach their goal for freedom?

In order grasp the main story the stage must be set. The where and when questions must be answered. We must also comment on what sparked the explosion know as the Haitian Revolution. It was in the 18th century when the actions that caused the revolution occurred. On the other side of the country another revolution was occurring. To surmise what happened, basically the French had fallen on to hard financially times. This was caused partly by French involvement in the American Revolutionary War. This led to the French crown first calling, in 1789, a meeting called the Estates General in order to gain assent for new tax laws. The General was composed of three Estates; the clergy, the nobility, and the rest of France. This third Estate informed by long term doubts over the constitution of France and the development of a new social order of bourgeoisie, declared itself a National Assembly and decreed the suspension of tax, taking French sovereignty into its own hands.[1] After a power struggle which saw the National Assembly took control and forced the king to give in and the Assembly began reforming France, scrapping the old system and drawing up a new constitution with a Legislative Assembly. These reforms continued, and over time it created divisions in France by legislating against the church and declaring war on nations which supported the French king. In 1792, the National Assembly replaced itself with a National Convention which abolished the monarchy, and declared France a republic and in 1793 executed the king.

This Revolution laid out the blueprint for the Haitians to follow, because the problems that the French citizens were facing were identical to the ones that troubled the Haitian slaves. In the 18th century, St. Domingo, also known as Haiti, was “France’s most profitable overseas colony because of its sugar, coffee, cocoa, indigo, tobacco, cotton, sisal as well as some fruits and vegetables”[2] this is important to know because once the French realized how pivotal Haiti was to their economic stability they began cracking down on the slave labor force. For if the slave were to revolt it would be the end of their power reign, because without money it is damn near impossible to rule a country. In order to ensure this wouldn’t occur, losing their money that is, France enforced a system called the “exclusif”[3] on Saint-Domingo. This forced St. Domingo to export 100% of their products to France and only France. This wasn’t the only stipulation. Haiti was only allowed to purchase goods from France. So in a way Haiti was the heart and blood of the French Empire and without it the empire would wither away and die. The French merchants and crown set the prices for both imports and exports; of course the prices for this were extraordinarily unfair. This put pressure on not only the slaves to produce the goods but the owners as well to make sure the goods were produced by the slaves.

Meanwhile, Overtime time a fire started to build under the bellies of the slave owners and a independence movement started to form. One unique aspect of this movement was that the slave owners and free persons of color were unified on a democratic home front but in their social lives the owners still ruled over them. Also, take into account that the slaves had no hand in this movement for independence. The vision that the slave owners had for Haiti was one similar to that present in the United States. This is important to note because the slave owners wanted to be free from the control of the French Empire but weren’t willing to grant that same freedom to their slaves. In some ways it is a conflict of interest. This didn’t sit well with the slaves and they knew things needed to change but how was this going to occur? The slaves knew they needed to attack slavery at its core. The resistance would acquire momentum if every slave undermined their owner’s authority.

The revolution and resistance finally became possible in San Domingo when slavery itself was challenged. Looking back at their predecessors, the slaves needed some type of legislative backing. They got it in the French’s Declaration of the Rights of Man. Passed in France on August 26, 1789, it states: “In the eyes of the law all citizens are equal.” Article II states, “The aim of all political associations is the preservation of the natural rights of liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.”[4] These articles clearly state that all men are equal but the people who these laws were made for are not being given the freedoms they deserve. This is when the slave labor force in Haiti began to rise up and fight the power.

Now, this is where the key players of the Haitian revolution come into play. In 1791, the slave uprising occurred in the North. These uprisings occurred under the watchful eye of their commander and chief in sense, Zamba Boukman. Boukman was a self educated slave who taught himself how to read. This is important to note because during this time it was a rarity that a slave or anyone of color could read let alone write. This skill is used to his advantage when fighting against his enemies, but this is not where his strength lied. What made Boukman such a unique individual was his physical and mentally prowess when it came to rallying his troops. It was unheard of at this time to have a black rebel leader especially one such as Boukman who relied on his voodoo for strength. This voodoo to the Haitians was like Christianity to Americans it gave them strength. This one in particular was given by Boukman at a ceremony at Bwa kayiman. “The god who created the earth; who created the sun that gives us light. The god who holds up the ocean; who makes the thunder roar. Our God who has ears to hear. You who are hidden in the clouds; who watch us from where you are. You see all that the white has made us suffer. The white man’s god asks him to commit crimes. But the god within us wants to do good. Our god, who is so good, so just, He orders us to revenge our wrongs. It’s He who will direct our arms and bring us the victory. It’s He who will assist us. We all should throw away the image of the white men’s god who is so pitiless. Listen to the voice for liberty that sings in all our hearts.”[5] As you can see from the prayer the Haitians are a peaceful people they just seek the freedoms that others are granted. Despite their voodoo inspired heroism, Boukman and his troops were defeated and forced to withdraw from the attack on Le Cap which is a port on the island.

The rebellion left an estimated 10,000 blacks and 2,000 whites dead and more than 1,000 plantations sacked and razed. [6]

Although they failed to win back the ports and Boukman was later executed by beheading his efforts were not in vain. His trials laid the foundation for another self educated slave to take the reigns against a new enemy. Boukman’s death occurred on 1791, soon after Haiti had gained momentum but the war was not over because I an old foe with a mighty force was on the horizon trying to reclaim the land. This new found feel of hope that the Haitians of Haiti experienced is important because previous to their revolution no slave rebellion had ever gotten this close to successfully gain their freedom, but now it was to be challenged.

The new leader of the slave rebellion arose like the daisies in the spring but with force. Toussaint L’ouverture a self educated slave, like his predecessor Boukman took over by storm. Many historians find it hard to pinpoint what made Toussaint so crucial to the revolution. It has been said “what he did is more easily told than what he was.”[7]  Toussaint was much more than a man he was the electoral spark plug that charged up his people to fight and keep their independence from the invading French lead by Napoleon Bonaparte in the late 18th century. As these two colossal figures battled more than their lives were at stack. For Toussaint, it was the potential freedom of his race from slavery. For Napoleon, it was just the opposite, because if France lost Haiti they would lose a big majority of their money from imports and exports that main crop generating these funds being sugar which is indigenous to the Haiti area.

After bloody battles and lost lives Napoleon had finally had enough. In 1803, he figuratively waved the white flag of peace and gave to the demands of Toussaint and his rebel men or so it seemed. Although, from outside looking in it may seem that Toussaint got what he wanted but it would cost him his life. Yes, Haiti would now be recognized as an independent nation and their accomplished their goal of gaining freedom but the French would have the last laugh. A few months after granting Haiti their independence, the French invited Toussaint to France to negotiate the ins and outs of the accord. Upon arrival Toussaint is arrested and placed in a prison under the orders of Napoleon. This is prominent because it points out that anything that you are willing to fight for you must be willing to die for it as well as Toussaint later did do.

In the early 19th century, Haiti enjoyed their new found independence at the expense of their leader Toussaint, but if it wasn’t for his antagonist Napoleon these events would have never come to pass. We cannot forget to mention Boukman who paved the way for to Toussiant as well as those who fought and lost their lives that weren’t mention. To this end, for all of these occurrences to have happened an issue needed to be at the forefront which was the independence of Haiti. Some may ask what makes this Revolution unique? Why should it be mentioned in the history books? I say because this is the first occurrence of slaves unifying to for one specific goal and achieving it.




Bromley, Jason. A revolution in Haiti: Resistance and the Haitian Revolution. Website.

April 14, 2012.

Corbett, Bob. The Haitian Revolution of 1791-1803. Website. April 1, 2012.


Edwards, Bryan. The History of the West Indies. Piccadilly Press, London. 1801. Website.

March 27, 2012.


Ott, Thomas O. The Haitian Revolution. Knoxville: University Of Tennessee Press. 1973.             Book.


Wilde, Robert. The French Revolution 101. Website. April 2, 2012.


Haitian Revolution. <>

Website. April 17, 2012.






               [1] Wilde, Robert. The French Revolution 101. Website.

[2] Corbett, Bob. The Haitian Revolution of 1791-1803. Website.

               [3] Corbett, Bob. The Haitian Revolution of 1791-1803. Website.

               [4] Bromley, Jason. A revolution in Haiti: Resistance and the Haitian Revolution. Website.  

               [5] Corbett, Bob. The Haitian Revolution of 1791-1803. Website.

[7]Edwards, Bryan. The History of the West Indies. Piccadilly Press, London. 1801.            Website.

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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in History


Paper Proposal (History)

What Makes this Revolution Different?

            A revolution occurs when the ruling power over a nation needs to be replaced. Like wars, many revolutions have occurred over time, throughout the history of America, but none matching the historical importance of the Haitian Revolution. With notable martyrs like General Toussaint L’Ouverture, this revolution that occurred in the 18th century is unable to be ignored by historical researchers but why? With revolutions like the Chinese, Cuban, and French, what makes this particular revolution any different from the one’s preceding it and why is it an important part of not only American history but history in general?

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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in History