Growth: Self Assessment Essay

Self-Assessment Essay 

The first writing assignment of the semester was a Language and Literacy Narrative, where I described a significant part of my life relating to language. I spoke about my struggles in being an “introvert” and how it held me back from speaking up throughout my life. Writing about this part of me allowed me to reflect. I stated, “I often observed rather than speak my thoughts and opinions.” This sentence from my narrative shows an example of how I held myself back from sharing myself with others. Although this assignment helped me reflect more than ever before, it helped me achieve the third course learning outcome, “Develop strategies for reading, drafting, collaborating, revising, and editing.” I achieved this through the multiple drafts I wrote and receiving feedback from my peers, as well as my professor. The constant practice I had through this writing assignment helped me learn what I can do to improve my writing for future assignments.  

Reflecting on my life experiences has also made me understand the first course learning outcome, “Examine how attitudes towards linguistic standards empower and oppress language users.” I described the frustration my “shyness” has caused with my mother. The frustration has turned into a sort of resentment. Not relating to my personal experience, I noticed the first course learning outcome relates to Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue,” where her mother experiences language oppression. I learned that people who are non-native English speakers receive different treatment due to their lack of knowledge of proper English. Non-native English speakers live in an unfair society that sees them differently than others. Society often assumes that they won’t understand a word of English, so they are brushed off. 

The second writing assignment, related to the Language and Literacy Narrative, was a Peer Profile. In this assignment, I read another classmate’s narrative and learned about something significant in their life. In my case, my peer’s narrative was based on rap music. Their narrative was mainly surrounded by how they grew up around it and how important learning the meaning behind rap lyrics is to them. Reading their narrative and writing their peer profile has helped me achieve the second course learning outcome, “Explore and analyze, in writing and reading, a variety of genres and rhetorical situations.” Rap music isn’t a new genre to me, but I did learn how much passion a person can have about it and how it can tie into their culture. A new perspective was brought onto me considering that there is meaning behind lyrics in music. Additionally, I achieved the fourth course learning outcome, “Recognize and practice rhetorical terms & strategies when engaged in writing situations.” Reading my classmate’s narrative helped me learn more about understanding ethos, pathos, and logos. I stated, “The use of Jordan’s dad being a prime example to how he grew so close with rap can invoke pathos.” I never had much of a big understanding of rhetorical terms and strategies, and I feel like this writing assignment has helped me understand it more. 

The third and most recent writing assignment was a research essay of my topic of choice. I chose to write about the historical effects of Agent Orange. This assignment was definitely extensive as I did have to write multiple synthesis summaries on sources as well as drafts before reaching the final. I achieved three course learning outcomes throughout this assignment. The sixth, “Locate research sources..,” the seventh, “Compose texts that integrate a stance with appropriate sources, using strategies such as summary, analysis, and argumentation,” and the eighth, “Practice systematic application of citation conventions.” Throughout the process of my research essay, I had to look for creditable sources. It was important that I looked for ones that didn’t repeat the same things for the most part and ones that gave valuable information. Adding onto the search of sources, I had to construct my sentences in a way my intended audience would understand my stance on the use of Agent Orange. It was tough trying to come up with a lot to say without seeming like I was repeating myself. But I used different parts of each source to support the stance that I chose to take. Using sources also meant properly citing the authors. Before taking this course, I never knew how to properly cite and give credit to a source. It was something I knew I had to take time to properly learn and adjust to. Now, I’m able to properly give credit to authors and prevent accidental plagiarism. 

Lastly, I achieved the fifth course learning outcome, “Understand and use print and digital technologies to address a range of audiences.” This course learning outcome was achieved throughout all assignments. There were chances to print a few pages of each writing assignment, while also having it accessible on a device. I did learn that not everyone has access to a device which made printing useful when peer feedback was taking place. It made it fair and easy for everyone, in my opinion. Since this was implemented, no complaints of being unable to access each other’s work have been heard of. 

Taking this English class this semester has been helpful in many ways. The course learning outcomes and trying to reach an audience made me feel like I had a purpose in writing. Writing assignments never felt pointless. It wasn’t just me trying to pass the class but more of me learning for future writing. 


The Effects of Agent Orange: Researched Essay

Adriana Payano

Cover Letter  

The research of Agent Orange has continued to leave me curious. It’s a historical event that I’ve seen that never gets talked about in schools, at least in my experience. I learned about it through social media. It may sound ridiculous, but it led me to learn more about the effects of Agent Orange as I researched more. Learning about such a broad subject has made myself and others realize what schools aren’t teaching us. It could be because of the brutality of it or simply not trying to make the U.S. military look bad. There could be many reasons, but no one will know why. My interest in the history of Agent Orange has always been there. It’s the one historical moment that I will never want to stop learning about. As the years go by, I believe there’s always something more about it. 

This essay does not have a specific target audience. I wanted more to educate people about it since many have not heard a word about Agent Orange. Although there are many sources on Agent Orange, I found it hard to find credible sources. The majority of sources talked about the exact same thing, which mainly were how Agent Orange was made and why it was bad. Sometimes it was frustrating. I had to skim articles and leave some behind because it was too similar to another. But throughout this assignment, I learned from the Course Learning Outcomes to locate research sources. Doing a research essay is not as easy as someone may think. Looking for research sources requires patience and your mind to be focused rather than rushed.  

The Effects of Agent Orange 

A plant killing herbicide, Agent Orange, was created during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange was used by the U.S. military against Vietnamese soldiers and sprayed over the land during 1962-1971. It was meant to remove leaves from trees in forests to expose the hiding Vietnamese soldiers and kill off crops that was a source of food to them. Even though it was targeting the Vietnamese soldiers, it negatively impacted civilians and American soldiers as well and caused health issues while continuing to poison today’s soil.  

The war has been over for a long time. But, in Phan Xuan Dung’s article “Agent Orange in Vietnam: lingering pain and injustice,” there are claims that the Vietnamese veterans will never forget it even though they’ve put the war behind them. Dung includes the continuing pain that the veterans are living with and adding on that children are suffering as well. Its stated, “Decades after the spraying stopped, Agent Orange continues to inflict pain on presumable millions of people.” (Dung, 2022) There’s a sense of seeking empathy from readers in this sentence. Also, it’s informational as it begins to give a glimpse into the suffering of the effects of Agent Orange. The glimpse of the suffering goes into a deeper dive. It’s included that chronic illnesses are contracted due to Agent Orange which include, but are not limited to, cancer and diabetes. It’s only imaginable how aggressive these illnesses can get from this chemical. The lasting effects has led up to Vietnam claiming over 4 billion victims of Agent Orange. 

The Vietnam War happened decades ago but it still has plenty of effects on veterans. Going into specifics, James Sklenar from the U.S. Marine Corps still lives with these effects. He described his experience in an interview with Brooke Reilly from Spectrum News. With Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, Sklenar used “hell” to describe his service. The huge impact Agent Orange has had on anyone that comes in contact with it is proven when Reilly stated, “Sklenar said he’s had two brushes with cancer.” (Reilly, 2022) Instead of leaving it at that, Reilly goes more in depth with Sklenar’s experiences after the use of Agent Orange. It’s stated that Sklenar was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma then had part of his right lung removed in 1994. The list goes on with the surgeries and diagnoses that Sklenar has undergone. It’s a lifetime of suffering. Even though Sklenar has his own suffering and was a U.S. Marine Corp, he understands the effects Agent Orange had on the Vietnamese as well. He told Reilly that Vietnam veterans are still dying to this day due to the effects of Agent Orange. Throughout the article, Reilly appears to write it in a way to make readers take a moral stand on how wrong the use of Agent Orange was. Readers could potentially feel empathy knowing about the health struggles that Sklenar went through. Aside from feeling empathy and taking a moral stand, it’s also meant to grasp at reader’s attention to make them want to know more. 

It’s only imaginable of the significant damage and symptoms Agent Orange can do to the human body. Many people are uneducated about Agent Orange itself. Knowing the symptoms themselves can be complex and Agent Orange exposure will be the last thing a person thinks of. To be sure the public is educated on the effects of Agent Orange, the Cleveland Clinic created an article specifically about it. There has been “14 diseased associated with Agent Orange exposure, but over time, medical research found several additional conditions that affected people who had exposure to Agent Orange.” (Cleveland Clinic, 2023) They go onto listing conditions that were caused by Agent Orange which include bladder cancer, B-cell leukemia, severe birth defects, etc. The chance of survival depends on the severity of the illness and if it can respond to treatment. Even if people do survive with treatment, they aren’t completely clear from getting other illnesses. The purpose of listing these conditions is to educate curious readers and emphasize the severity of exposure to Agent Orange. In any unlikely case, it could potentially help people figure out the cause of certain diseases in others. 

Agent Orange has widely been known as the cause of illnesses in veterans and the civilians of Vietnam. But Blake Stilwell from says Agent Orange isn’t just about that. Stilwell questions the United States’ “legal liability” for the use of Agent Orange and how to clean up the damage it caused. It can be thought that Agent Orange could be cleaned up quickly. But Stilwell stated the opposite. “The chemical contaminate in Agent Orange can have a half-life of up to 20 years, but when buried or leached below the soil surface or in river sediment, it can remain up to 100 years of more.” (Stilwell, 2023) Agent Orange was sprayed decades ago and could still be buried in Vietnam. The issue with Agent Orange still being buried there could mean that the effects of it will look like it’s never ending. Stilwell seemed to write this to steer people away from the one idea of Agent Orange causing health issues to veterans during the war. This can also open their minds to the effects it can have on future generations until Agent Orange’s “life” ends. 

Agent Orange was understandably used as a military tactic used by the U.S. military to win a war. But morally, it seemed like the only focus was beating the Vietnamese soldiers. The main aspect that was not considered was Vietnamese civilians. Agent Orange killed off their crops as well, not just the food that was feeding Vietnamese soldiers. The use of Agent Orange was extensive and extremely dangerous. Due to this war and the need to win, innocent Vietnamese civilians have no choice but to live with the devastating effects of Agent Orange. Future generations will possibly have some sort of impact after the research of Agent Orange being able to last up to 100 years in soil or river sediments. 

Works Cited: 

“Agent Orange in Vietnam: lingering pain and injustice.” Phan Xuan Dung, New Mandela, 21 Nov. 2022, 

“Agent Orange still haunts Vietnam veterans.” Brooke Reilly, Spectrum News, 10 Aug. 2022, 

“Agent Orange Effects.” Cleveland Clinic, 10 Feb. 2023, 

“Why the US Used Agent Orange in Vietnam and What Makes It So Deadly.” Blake Stilwell,, 1 Aug. 2022,