Citizen Reflection

A Look of How Far I Have Come 

As we wind down the semester, it is important to take time to look back and reflect of where we started, what we have learned, and re-evaluate what we are trying to achieve in our future. Walking into this class on the first day of school, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve never taken an academic writing class, nor a Political Science class. I couldn’t fathom how the two could be intertwined or how they could be taken together as a U-course. I assumed that we would write for the first half, take a break, and then go onto the Political Science side of the course.  I quickly learned that these two classes truly suited each other, and that we used academic writing for the political science piece of the class. I have certainly grown as a student, as a writer, and as a group member from taking this class. When I first started this course, I normally do not take the lead on group projects, share in class, or ask for help. As groups changed and I joined the Amazing’s group for Planned Parenthood and abortion, I increasingly became more comfortable with the people around me and I began to express myself by taking risks, talking in front of the class, and taking the lead on group projects. I have become close with my groupmates and I fear the last day of class will be a bittersweet end.  I am so glad to have gotten to know these people and have them help shape me in my academic journey here at Chico State. It seems like  yesterday was the first day of school and we were asked to jot down a quick write on our thoughts for the upcoming election. This class has really taught me how to search for correct sources and how to use these sources properly. I learned what a scholarly article was and how to find them. Chico State’s Meriam library is a great resource for writing and I would venture to guess that most of our students don’t even know of the sources it provides. The scholarly articles were daunting at first, but as time went by I started using them more and more. I became increasingly comfortable searching, reading, and incorporating them into my writing. I wasn’t the best at writing at first, but I have gained new skills and learned a lot about myself.

The weekly focus that stuck with me the most and the one that really made me question and think differently was Focus 8. The topic for this focus revolved around the use of media and how it impacts our lives. This paper was very interesting to write because this was the first time two of my courses were talking about the same thing at the same time. My Philosophy 102 class had recently discussed the importance of credibility and the relationship it has with readers and the government. It is well-known that the media is biased politically and that “…governments are known to influence and even manipulate the news” (Moore 120) by framing issues.  The media is not the only source of information, but the world is dominated by mass communication, and more and more, the political agenda is being set by the media, either through priming or framing. “The media wield the most influence in shaping the public agenda when the events and issues are either outside an individual’s experience or new to the society” (Gitelson 334) and needless to say, the media plays a large role in presenting the issues at hand. It was interesting to me how these two classes came together to say the same thing: major newspapers, magazines, and news shows, for the most part, are credible sources of information, “but it is necessary to keep an open mind about what we learn from them” (Moore 124). Governments have been known to influence or manipulate the news in some way or another, so it is crucial to use skepticism and partake in independent research when obtaining information and forming your political opinions. I kept this all in mind as the presidential election was coming up.

I have also learned what it truly means to be an engaged and aware citizen. “Studying the propositions, government, politics, or the activities aimed at influencing or controlling government for the purpose for formulating or guiding public policy” (Gitelson 9), as well as the presidential election has made me grow as a citizen and helped me to cast more educated votes this past election cycle. Government is the, “institutions and officials whose purpose it is to write and enact laws and to execute and enforce public policy” (Gitelson 9) that is present in our lives every day. We did an activity in class where we had to give ten examples of how government played a role in our morning. I  became aware of just how far reaching the government is and how greatly it influences our lives. We did a lot of work with local issues, as well as looking at the propositions; it has been interesting to discuss these with my class members as well as friends and family.

I am a pre-nursing major and I have decided that after I become a nurse and have gained work experience as a Labor and Delivery nurse, I will pursue health care issues with a focus in policy. I may join an interest group, or “any organized group of individuals who share common goals and who seek to influence government decision making” (Gitelson 293). There are many interest groups that deal with health care policy, such as the American Nurses Association. This committee gets together to “promote the improvement of the healthcare system in the United States by raising funds from ANA members and contributing to support worthy candidates for federal office who have demonstrated their belief in the legislative and regulatory agenda of the ANA” (The Voters).  After doing research for the Town Hall meetings and research all semester for the policy papers, the idea of having a voice with policy really interests me now. I had reservations about Town Hall, but I thought it was a really interesting experience to be able to collaborate with other students and adults who were focused on the same policy issue.  I want to be able to research the current policies we have in the United States further, and find a way to change these policies and better those receiving health care.  I have also become aware of how to be more of a team player and truly work in a group setting. This is an important skill set, and especially important for when I become a nurse.  It is transparent to me now how vitally important it is to work together toward a common goal, and get to that goal in a timely and efficient way, while respecting each other’s opinions.

This class was only the beginning of my academic career and has taught me a great deal. I have obtained information regarding policy and politics and have learned how to incorporate these teaching into my future political ideals. I feel better equipped as a citizen of the United States. I have a lot to still learn, but this was a magnificent start.

 

Works Cited

Gitelson, Alan R. et al. “Chapter 10: Media and Politics .” American Government: Myths and Realities.

Moore, Brooke Noel., and Richard Parker. Critical Thinking. Boston, McGraw Hill, 2007.

“The Voter’s Self Defense System.” Project Vote Smart, votesmart.org/interest-group/1737/american-nurses-association#.WD5BkKIrLPA.

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