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Student Highlights

Outstanding GEW Student of the Month

October 2014 - Maria Gurrola

Picture of Maria

Prof Strona: Hi, welcome and congratulations on being nominated Outstanding GEW Student of the Month! So, let us get to know you a little better. Tell us your name and who your GEW instructor is and little bit about you.

Maria: My name is Maria Gurrola. My instructor is Dr. Kenney for GEW and I am taking GEW as a requirement for my biology major.

Strona: Ok great, so you’re a biology major—awesome! Can you tell us a little about your previous experiences with writing before you came to CSUSM.

Maria: Um, well in high school I took just your normal English classes, you know. I really never felt I was any good at English, but so far in college, I feel it’s a much different experience than in high school. I have learned through the Early Start Program this summer that I am able to go to the Writing Center when I need help. They help with giving ideas and are super helpful. Doing the Summer Bridge was really big for me because when I came to school in the fall I knew about all the resources like the Writing Center and the Math Lab. I felt really comfortable coming in to school thanks to the Bridge Program.

Strona: Ok, Ok. That’s great. I know we are early in the semester, but what are some the things that you like about Professor Kenney’s class and GEW in general?

Maria: What I like about Professor Kenney’s class is that we are reading the Wes Moore book

Strona: Cool that’s the university’s Common Read?

Maria: Yea. Yeah. Every time we meet as a class, we analyze what we read as a whole class. We have read the first three chapters so far, and I can really relate with the Wes number one and his loss. He loses his father, and I lost my grandfather. We both had difficulty understanding why. I totally identified and connected. We also engage in freewrites and write about how our first semester is going, so the freewrites are really helping me with my writing.

Strona: Tell me more about these freewrites.

Maria: Well, they are called “field notes.”  We pick a day of the week and write about what happened. We start with general observations and then specific observations and finally a reflection. We will use these field notes as part of an ethnography and write a five-page essay describing our first semester at college. I really do enjoy the assignment because I never did field notes before, and it’s a different way of looking at an essay, which I like.

Strona: OK. Let’s switch gears a bit and tell me about life at the university for you.

Maria: I am a first-generation college student. My brother, Raul—he’s a junior—and I commute together to school. We live in Menifee, so it takes about an hour to get to school. I wanted to go to a smaller school, and ever since I looked at San Marcos, I knew right away it was for me. I knew I fit in here. The school had my major, was close to home, and I knew I would like it because of what Raul said. I really like it here.

Strona: Last question, What makes Maria, Maria?

Maria: Well, I am very determined. I set up goals and try to accomplish them. I use “To Do Lists.” If I write it down, then I will accomplish it. In GEW, I always talk to my professor; I make sure to go to office hours, and I um, make sure to write a rough draft and have someone else look at it. Finally, I love to ride my horse in my free time. Riding the trails really helps me to clear my mind.

Strona: That’s it. Thank you so much and Congratulations!

Maria: Thanks!