From the horrors and hardships of Hurricane Katrina to growing up in Mississippi, three students and two instructors from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College cover the gamut of experiences in their essays published in the new Composition II text, “For Our Students.” The textbook, published by the Two-Year College English Association of Mississippi (TYCAM), includes sample essays written by community-college faculty and students from around the state.
Angela Frazier, a language arts instructor at the Jefferson Davis Campus, is a member of the TYCAM Charter Committee that compiled the textbook. “The Charter Committee decided that students using the text would benefit from seeing what other students and instructors from their college were writing,” she said. “We wanted this book to be about Mississippi students, and we felt the issues dealt with in the sample essays should be subjects familiar to students in the state.”
Frazier, whose essay “Mississippi, Y’all” was published in the first edition, said that she is thrilled with the idea of a Mississippi textbook. “This great text allows my students to see what kinds of essays they should be writing based on what students just like them are writing around the state. The text also allows me to see what other community-college instructors and students are doing as a benchmark for my students.”
Frazier said she didn’t know her essay was included in the book until she received a copy of the book a few weeks ago. “It is exciting and an honor. I just wish we were using the text at the college, and perhaps we will be able to use the second edition when it comes out.”
Dr. Donald Mangum, a language arts instructor at the Jackson County Campus, had his essay “What’s Happening on Cybercampus: Education Taking on a Whole New Face :-)” published in the first edition also. He said he was also surprised when he found out his essay was included in the textbook. “I had written the section on argument for the text and had also provided the essay sample. I never knew whether any of it had been thrown out or used until I received the book.”
Ryan Mitchell, 19, now a sophomore at the Jefferson Davis Campus, wrote his essay “A Storm of Emotions” during his Composition I class last year. Mitchell, who plans to attend Southwestern University in Texas, has already crossed his first hurdle as an English education major – getting published. “I was motivated to write the essay by true events that happened in my life following Katrina. I put a lot of myself into it but had no clue it was worthy of publishing. It is a rewarding feeling to know you’ve been published.”
With the help of the Learning Lab and his language arts instructor, Thomas Clay Boone, 24, a sophomore at the Jefferson Davis Campus, wrote the essay “The Aftershock” about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “I had just started college after being out for five years when I wrote this essay. I was surprised that it was chosen.” Boone, who was a Navy Seabee when the hurricane hit, said he spent a lot of time handing out ice and other goods at distribution lines in the weeks following Aug. 29. “Working in the distribution lines and helping clean up allowed me to see the horrible devastation. Then 20 days after the hurricane, my grandfather, who I was very close to, died. The essay talks about the hurricane’s destruction of not just material things, but lives.”
Krysta Ferguson, a former Gulf Coast student, was also published in the textbook. Her essay was “Aspirations of College Success” and tells about her trials as a student at a university and her success as a student at Gulf Coast.
More Gulf Coast students may have the opportunity to see their essays published, Frazier said. She continues to meet with the TYCAM Charter Committee and she said they have plans for future editions of “For Our Students” and other textbooks, as well. “Publishing this text was not about making money or the prestige,” she said. “The committee wanted to produce a quality textbook for Mississippi students that was affordable and that dealt with their specific needs. I think we’ve accomplished that and we hope to continue publishing textbooks for our students.”