To All Aspiring Liberal Arts Schreyer Scholars
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Politics and Activism

To All Aspiring Liberal Arts Schreyer Scholars

If you're looking for sample SHC essays, look no further

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To All Aspiring Liberal Arts Schreyer Scholars
Flickr Creative Commons

Below are two of my essays that got me into the SHC. If you are an aspiring Schreyer Scholar, then this is your destination.

In 500 words or less, tell us why you are interested in joining the Schreyer Honors College.

In middle school, I was placed in Read 180, an English program designed to help students meet the required middle school reading level. For two years I struggled with reading and writing; and, when I finally met the reading level requirement, I was placed in a higher level English class and faced with another unique set of challenges; I had to meet an even higher level of reading. However, this time, I did not struggle as much. Then as I began to reflect upon what I’ve learned I realized that I am growing as a thinker; I was no longer the kid getting 4/10 on weekly English quizzes. Over the years as I moved up the academic ladder, my reading and writing skills improved.

Now, I am constantly reading and writing, trying to adapt to the ever-changing standard of academic excellence. I am proud to call myself a writer, a poet, and a member of the Penn State Berks Honors Program. I want to become a member of the Schreyer Honors College because my academic mission directly corresponds with that of the SHC’s; in addition to achieving the highest level of academic integrity through the honors college, I also want to build a global perspective by taking honors courses that challenge my views. For instance, this year, through Penn State Berks’s Honors Program, I enrolled in English 202H. For the class, I wrote a piece on how fairy tales and gender conditioning have influenced my perception of women. By doing this, I was able to reflect on my childhood views about women and treat my perception of them as a microcosm for the way many young boys perceive young girls. In this way, I was able to understand the power and socialization within fairy tales, which contributed to my perception of modern society.

I took my first honors class in my sophomore year of high school and, since then, I have retained an active position in honors. I have been exposed to the honors courses here at Berks, which means that I am familiar with the level of thinking that honors requires; still, I stand to learn and grow from the honors courses offered at University Park. Because of my background as a writer, I will focus on taking honors courses devoted to composition and poetry writing early on. For instance, taking the English 304M Honors Creative Writing Seminar and doing honors option work for English 413H Advanced Poetry Writing will inform my writing spirit and help me grow as a thinker and poet. By taking a combination of these classes, I will be able to cultivate growth in my understanding of English literature and poetry writing. Honors education, to me, is about increasing my creative potential so I can better understand, develop, and apply the knowledge I have obtained into my writing.


In 500 words or less, tell us about a topic in your intended major that you might be interested in pursuing for your honors thesis research or creative project if you are accepted into the Schreyer Honors College. Why is this topic of special interest to you? If you have already taken steps towards research or creative work in this topic, e.g. through a lab placement or work with a faculty member, please provide details.

I have been fond of poetry ever since I learned how to write. I have written many poems throughout high school and college, and if accepted, I will do the same. As a creative project, I intend to put together a collection of contemporary poems about beauty, existence, and nature; the collection will contain around twenty poems, all written in free verse. My collection will explore various pleasures and disappointments in everyday images. I will title the collection Anima, a Latin word meaning life or soul; the name of my first real poem. I already have ideas for poems that may be included in this collection; for instance, presently, I am rewriting a poem that I wrote as a child about the Atlantic Ocean, trying to capture the mix of pleasure and disappointment I felt at the time during my childhood.

This semester, I took an English 213H independent study class with Dr. Kenneth Fifer, a published poet and esteemed member of the Berks English department. Every Thursday morning, we would meet in the café to discuss and study poetry. Under his guidance, my knowledge of poetry grew and my poetic voice developed. One poet we studied was T.S Eliot. I’ve always been fascinated with Eliot because of his effective use of literary devices such as enjambment and allusion. Last year, I wrote a three-part poem about a romantic relationship modeled after Eliot’s “The Wasteland” and gave it to my teachers; seeing such a positive response to my writing made me more enthusiastic about my poetry and, ever since, I have been reading, writing, and learning about poetry. When I recently re-read it, I noticed many small poems hiding in that one large poem, which is why I will use this poem to help me brainstorm new material that I can use in my creative project.

For such a contemporary project, I could work with the director of creative writing, Professor Charlotte Holmes. I would like to work with her because I like her poetry and because she is a successful published poet. In this way, I feel that her experience will add to mine and that I will learn a lot about writing and publishing poetry. I have read the six poems that she contributed to the eighth issue of Radar Poetry, an electronic journal, and I like how each poem, though narrated and presented differently, only reveals a layer of the 1741 New York City Slave Conspiracy, a linked collection from where the poems are originally from; together the poems tell a story and that is exactly what I want my collection to do as well.

To be a poet means to see, not with the eyes, but with the mind. The more I write poetry the more I can actually see and understand the world. By creating a collection of poems as a creative project, I would be extending my mindsight and enabling myself to breathe in the world in a way I previously haven’t.

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