SPRING 2013, vol. 7
Forrest C. Helvie, Instructor of Developmental English
Elaine Delvecchio, Director of Developmental Studies Division
Front cover based upon original work, “Relativity,” by M.C. Escher.
“To me, a published writer is a person who has become good enough at
writing that he or she is recognized by his or her peers.”
--Anonymous NCC Student
The purpose of this magazine is twofold: to showcase the writing of
students taking Developmental English courses and to offer models for
study and discussion in the classroom.
Editor’s Note: Adhering to the magazine’s purpose, which served as the
guide for the editing process, meant that few editorial corrections were
made to the original pieces aside from some basic standardization of
spelling, capitalization, and general use of punctuation. As a result,
these submissions may appear less polished than others found in
traditional literary magazines; however, these submissions also closely
maintain each writer’s voice within the essays & poems and preserve a
more authentic experience for the reader.
We seek to recognize and celebrate the work of all of our students at
Norwalk Community College, and the entries selected for this year’s
edition of Passage represent the unique and diverse voices of our
developmental student body.
Literature Review
Page 5
“A Book Review of Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore’s The Walking Dead vol. 1”
Timothy Long
“A Book Review of Art Spiegelman’s Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began”
Zac Pavelchak
“A Book Review of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns”
Kevin Ramirez
This I Believe Essays
Page 12
“My Mother My Father”
By Jorge Larregui Jr.
“Bullying Should End”
Andrew Fitzgerald
“I Believe in Life After Death”
Natasia Humphries
“I Believe in Being a Jew”
Simona Levin
Song Lyric Reduction Poems
Page 20
Inspired by Langston Hughes’ “Dream Deferred”
Ilya Melinikos
Inspired by Jay-Z’s “Young Forever”
Jalin Sead
Inspired by Demon Hunter’s “Deteriorate”
Courtney Baldwin
Inspired by Type O-Negative’s “Dead Again”
Mike Finch
Inspired by Shayne Ward’s “Breathless”
Natalia Miranda
Inspired by Don Trip’s “Letter to My Child”
Jhony Cambisaca
The Survival Guides
Page 23
How to Survive ENG 066
By the Spring 2012 & Fall 2012 Students of ENG 066
How to Survive ENG 074
By the Spring 2012 & Fall 2012 Students of ENG 074
How to Survive FS 101
By John Torres
Open Submissions
“Wind Chimes”
Gracie McConnaughy
“How My Son Vernon Changed My Life”
Vivan Dennis
“A Wake Up Call”
By Alberto Elvir
Page 33
New to this year’s volume of Passage will be a selection of book reviews of all
award-winning comics and graphic novels spanning the past thirty years, one of
which earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for Special Literature. Check out these
reviews and perhaps even check one out at the NCC library!
A Book Review of Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore’s The Walking Dead vol. 1
Timothy Long
ENG 066
Who doesn’t love a good survival story? “The Walking Dead” is one of the best names
out there where undead, post-apocalyptic survival stories are involved. It has grown from its
roots of a graphic novel to a hit television series to an award-winning video game, but every
good story has its beginning. If you are someone who loves the end of the world genre or
zombies, “The Walking Dead” is the perfect story for you and I am going to give you some great
examples of why.
When I was given the option to choose what graphic novel to read for my school project
and I saw “The Walking Dead” created by Robert Kirkman, I was simply ecstatic with tearful
delight. The choose seem so perfect, I like comics and all their wonders but Batman just didn’t
catch my eye and the other choices seemed dull to me, so much that I can’t really remember their
names. But there it was, “The Walking Dead.” It was staring me in the face and it was the only
choice I really wanted to read. I can’t resist a zombie story no matter if it’s good or bad as it
turns out I got more than I could have ever hoped for with the graphic novel.
The very first thing that caught my eye when I opened Book One of “The Walking Dead”
was the color. There wasn’t any but instead, it was inked within the black and white spectrum.
All I could think was this was so befitting to an end of the world story. By doing this, it showed
the world as it would be if the world had ended, black and white with a whole lot of gray areas
holding on to your humanity while trying to survive. The next thing that caught my attention
was the way they introduce the main character Rick Grimes, a police officer who gets shout in a
shoot-out and then Rick waking up from a coma sometime after to the zombie apocalypse. The
thought of waking to a world where the dead don’t stay dead, and then walking into that world
without any clue to what has happen is simply a terrifying thought.
What I found most satisfying about this story is no matter what this group does to get to
survive and get ahead, they are almost always set back. Robert Kirkman is their puppet master
and he does an amazing job of holding a flame of hope in front of this group and having it burn
out whenever they are getting too comfortable with the world around them. The sheer agony
Robert places on Rick Grimes and his group’s survival at every turn of their journey, Robert
torments them with every messed up situation imaginable. Robert pulls on the strings of the
group’s emotions at every step along the way twisting their humanity from them and asking them
questions about what it is to be alive.
However, if you are someone who doesn’t like violence or you don’t have the stomach
for the gore that comes with flesh eating monsters that gorge on the people regardless if they are
dead or alive. This story is full with the disgusting images that go with the zombie apocalypse,
and if you are impartial to looking at zombie slaying, murder, intimate relationships, etc., then I
would have to say this story is not for you because Robert Kirkman truly puts the word graphic
in graphic novel. But if everything I just said sounds good to you then “The Walking Dead” is a
work of art when it comes to zombie apocalypse genre.
I love a good survival story and it is one of my favorite themes for anything and I have
seen enough of the good and bad in general to know if something is worth the time. “The
Walking Dead” is more than worth it. This story left me wanting more, so much so that I’m
probably going to read all sixteen books over time because I feel it’s worth it. The first two
books gave me the same impact I have to know what happens next, and I think it will leave all of
you feeling the same.
A Book Review of Art Spiegelman’s Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began
Zac Pavelchak
ENG 066
Approximately six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust between 1933 and
1945. In this review, I’ll be responding to four questions about Maus II: And Here My Troubles
Began. In my opinion, Maus II is a very informative and relatable book about the Holocaust and
I feel that it’s a great book to read if you’re looking for a good read or if you want to know what
the Holocaust was like for a survivor. This review will be discussing why I chose to read the
book, who the target audience is, what my first impression of the book was, and how the
conclusion worked for me and if it was problematic for me.
Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began is the second half of Art’s father’s (Vladek) and
mother’s (Anja) struggle to survive the Holocaust. Vladek’s son was interviewing his father
about his stories in the Holocaust. For example, how he taught a Polish cop to speak English.
Because of this, Vladek is given better food, a better uniform, and advice on how to avoid labor
during prison stands. Art and his wife, Francoise, go to Vladek’s house because Mala, Vladek’s
second wife has left him. During their stay, Art continues his interviews with his father, thus
developing Maus II.
I chose to read this book because I was very interested to learn about the Holocaust and
how it affect the lives of some people. The Holocaust was a big impact on the world and has
murdered a large number of Jewish people. This event has taught us that Anti-Semitism is
wrong and it also taught us to respect religious freedom. It has also taught us to respect all
people regardless of gender, race, religion, etc. The Holocaust has also affected the lives of
some people, especially Jewish people. 9/11 is nothing compared to the Holocaust, but 9/11 has
had some of the same after-effects as the Holocaust. Both events has killed many of the people
we love and they both have taught us to be more prepared for another horrific event.
The targeted audience for this book is everyone. I think it’s for everyone because of the
content of the book. Every person can learn a lot from this book; They can learn about the
dangers of too much power and what the Holocaust has done to most people and how it has
changed the world. People can educate themselves about the Holocaust if they’re not too
familiar with the event. I think this book was written to teach people about the Holocaust.
When I first looked at this book and flipped through the pages, the first thing that came to
mind were the pictures. I thought it would be so much easier for anyone to read and understand
the scenes and it was. When I saw all of the mice, pigs, cats, and dogs, I was a little confused,
but now that I’ve read the book, I understand why all of the characters are animals. The mice
were Jews, the pigs were Polish people, the cats were German, and the dogs were Americans.
Another first impression I had about this book was the detail of the panels. The panels with dead
mice laying around really hit me. It told me about how wrong the Holocaust was and what it did
to others.
The conclusion of the book worked for me because it seemed like a suitable ending for
this kind of situation; the Holocaust ended and everyone was reuniting with their loved ones. In
the end, Vladek says, “More I don’t need to tell you, we were both very happy, and lived happy,
happy every after” (Spiegelman 134) and in my opinion, that would be the best way to end a
story about the Holocaust.
In conclusion, I thought Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began was a really great book
to read. I chose to read this book because I was very interested to learn about the Holocaust and
how it has affected the lives of some people. I thought the targeted audience could be everyone
because everyone could learn something and I think this book was written to teach people about
the Holocaust. My first thought about this book was that this book would be so easy to
understand because it had pictures. I also thought the conclusion of this book worked for me and
was really clear.
A Book Review of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns
Kevin Ramirez
ENG 066
The author Frank Miller provides dark and intense as in the world of graphic not. The
return of an old enemy Thompson now 55-year-old Wayne to don the Batman costume again.
Batman faces death threats and challenges in question self.
Being a fan of Batman makes choosing the dark Knight returns easy. One has to be
curious how this version of Batman various previous versions. Well known Batman undertakes
his own roads and that means leaving his own mark on the Batman series. I want to see what
makes this worse than that in different from all others. What approach the other two for his visit
the Cape Crusader leave a mark on fans. Being familiar with illustrative of Batman's I also
wanted to see the similarities in this graphic novel another that. The role of Batman is provided a
dark and chilling set. Reading this novel, delivered a heartbreaking story from start to finish,
with good health care.
My impression was that I like the idea of targeting mature theme, the previous stories.
The tone and atmosphere of the book takes us deep into a dingy future version of 1980s Athens
and creating the most violent incarnation of fictional metropolis that I've never seen the. When
you read and look at the fight scenes in this book, it creates an image of a fast-paced sequence in
your head. One of my favorite things about Frank Miller is that he puts you inside the heads of
Batman, and Gordon, Robin, Superman, even the Joker and make this, the most action/adventure
oriented of the three, also the most character-driven as well. Anticipation and suspense builds up
from the scene of Gotham to the first appearance of Batman. It keeps you wanting to know
what's going to happen next, and how well the story and pulls. It sends you a ruthless and
disturbing roller coaster ride in the beginning to the end.
My favorite part of the novel would have to be when Bruce reawakens the darkness that
is lived inside him for years, is able to cast vengeance on the new leader. That showed me that no
matter the age, Batman is still able to find that inner core made him who he has become. As for
my least favorite part, I can't really say that I have one book from beginning to the end really
kept me entertained. Now if I had to choose one it would be the introduction of the new Robin
(Carrie Kelly). And nothing is really known about her. We don't get an in-depth coverage of who
Carrie Kelly is, where she comes from, and why she decided to take the role as the new Robin. Is
there something unique about her that makes her different from all the other past and present
The ending for us fans personally was excellent and really. After protecting Gotham city
for many decades of his life by himself, he takes in a new generation known as the Sons of
Batman to protect Gotham. Seeing Bruce lead Robin, Green Arrow, and his followers, preparing
for a new war against corruption gives us the satisfaction of knowing that his work can continue
even without his help.
In the end, the dark Knight returns delivers an intense and crazy joyride that kept fans
and me on the edge of their seats. The dark Knight returns shows a figurative fight three new
generation of evil. Miller's narrative is at its peak. Also his art of blend surrealism, stylized, and
downright cartoony does what is supposed to do, to tell a story. All of this makes the dark returns
the most readable, the most viscerally successful of Miller's dark Knight series.
“This I Believe is an international organization engaging people in writing and
sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. Some
100,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, are archived
here on our website, heard on public radio, chronicled through our books, and
featured in weekly podcasts. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio
series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.”
The following essays take a similar approach as students discuss important
issues centered on what they believe.
“My Mother My Father”
By Jorge Larregui Jr.
ENG 066
My mother has been an inspiration in force behind life. She was single mother was my
father same time. She was always there, when I needed that extra love. My mother made sure she
raised in the proper manner she could even though she was a teenager's.
Growing up, my mother taught me respect, courage, and this. My mother made sure
irrespective all my adult years. I was taught early on I always ask for my boat blessing" for my
family members we arrived to the house when we left their homes. We came to drugs, alcohol,
and tobacco use, I got schooled every day without skipping a beat in between. When I got out
from schools to smell my breath and smell my clothes make sure I was doing illegal stuff or
doing anything wrong. When he came to supporting me in school, she was always there. When I
played sports, regardless by one or lost, she was very encouraging, and always make sure you
have a weak backbone and I was always a winner hard. She always said quote if you put your
mind behind what you want to accomplish in this world, you will succeed and be a strong
person, not only for you but for your offspring to." Today look back at those words and it has
played a major role in my life, to be a person that respects others, and understand others to earn
my respect and trust. She has taught me that critical points in early childhood, so they can be
shared later in life, live a good life in an easier.
I was lucky to have a mother like her. Some kids don't have any parents; but I was lucky
enough to have my mother. She was always very supportive in school when we needed to talk
about my parents. Although she was a single parent, she was always there to support me as a
father would have. She made it seem so easy to be a mother and a father all in all. My father left
when I was a year old. He obtained a career as a police officer in Puerto Rico and was ready for
fatherhood at that time. So my mother ended up playing his role for him. He sacrificed a lot by
working many hours to make sure I was neglected or missing. I never had a chance to lose focus
that I didn't have a father support and one never around. She just seems to make it so easy for her
to be both a quote mother and a father" that in reality I didn't even notice I needed that part of the
quote father" support. I learn to be independent and learned friend like she taught me how. She
commented that, and she also taught me how to repair my flat bicycle tire. When it came to my
discipline she was on top of it, she was always on point and was strong like a man, but gentle
like a mom. When I cried in you to be cuddled she was on cue. My mother play the role of two
people. How hard that is since I know how hard it is to display my own role as one person,
mentioned to.
My mother being a teen mom somehow managed to raise me well. She struggled in life,
but made sure to never show it to me. She was always encouraging to talk to and it was also easy
to hold a conversation with her for just about any. I remember as a child my mother would do
carpentry work around the house and helped me learn to do simple things as well from. It
must've been very hard on my teenaged mother raising them, without the support of my father
that she was strong and no obstacles put in front of her. Her or slowed her down. At times I
thought she was mean, but also is doing is reinforcing good behavior patterns and make sure I
didn't go the wrong way life. She was prompt when it came to gangs and violence always make
sure I wasn't a part of it. I felt very overprotected then, but I now know why she was the way she
was. Although we quote Butthead's" many times, I began to realize that she did as a full or when.
Should raise a mold of herself in me. I learned to be strong like my mother, powerful and mind
and spirit like I was taught. She was a positive role model in my life, raise me to be who I am
today. Many tears my mother might've said, writing realize her was too young to see, commands
via Star mother, Carrie, fearless, enforcer, the great leader and a strong invisible quote father."
My mother played a huge part of my growing up. She worked inside a house that the mother
would; to minister workouts on the command. I was lucky to learn both parents traits, by one
person and one person only quote my mother my dad."
Mom is but a huge part of my everyday life and a tremendous person in that aspect to.
She will live in me and my kids and my kids told. Because what I was taught by her will always
carry past generations, love is framework; love your mother like your father. Sometimes one can
be missing or both. But regardless which one is missing or not in the picture, one of them usually
takes on the workload of two people. For this I love my mother. Today I make myself
responsibility for my own life it's very important for me because I was raised by my mother's
high standards, and driveways. I'll make sure to never let her down always thank her for the
person who I am today will be more. I'll always believe in her. My case I will always love my
special parent.
“Bullying Should End”
Andrew Fitzgerald
ENG 066
Ever since Elementary School slowly came to an end, there was still that feeling I had in
my mind that I couldn’t escape. Being a victim of bullying for over hour years really brought me
down as a person. I believe that bullying should end so everyone has a chance to live life to its
Back in the fifteen grade, I was the only kid in my grade that everyone bullied. I was
only ab out four feed tall back then, and there was no possibly way that I could stand up for
myself. I had really big teeth when I was in elementary school and middle school. Everyone call
me “buck tooth” or “beaver boy”. It always brought me down every time anyone called me that.
I also really didn’t have a lot of friends so I felt alone. People laughed at me often for being so
short and weak but I couldn’t do anything about it. I was always pushed around a lot and people
always gave me weird looks every time they saw me. I was often called names such as ugly,
small, weird, and skinny. I couldn’t take it anymore.
Once I graduated from elementary school, I headed off to middle school to experience
even more bullying, which I had to be prepared for because I was going to a school with much
older kids. Instead of verbal bullying in elementary school, I began to experience physical
bullying in middle school. Every time I walked the halls, I would always getting pushed into a
locker or sometimes tripped. I also had my notebooks and folders knocked out of my arms too
since students weren’t allowed to walk around with backpacks at my school. I hadn’t grown
much since elementary school so it was hard to stick up for myself. I spent countless hours with
my guidance counselor trying to resolve the bullying but it never worked.
I signed up for Facebook once I was done with middle school. Well I guess that was a
big mistake. Now I got myself into cyber bullying. Out of all the bullying I experienced, cyber
was the worst. This happened mostly on Facebook and Twitter. I received so many messages
from people saying no one likes you, get a life. I honestly I had no idea how to respond. I felt
like no one cared about me or even loved me. Creep, annoying, and stalker were three words I
was always called. I never bothered people on Facebook or Twitter but people always bothered
me. I remember one of my “friends” made a Facebook group about me. It basically was saying
that I was a faggot. That word faggot just destroyed all the hope I had to free myself from
bullying. I’ve never seen that person since they made that group about me. At least 300 people
joined the group and they posted on the page things like this is hilarious, he’s the biggest faggot.
Luckily, I had friends who cared about me and they reported the group and got it deleted.
After all this bullying, I went to a social worker to figure out what was going on and they
also asked me if I ever thought of killing myself. I thought about it but I knew I had to ignore
those annoying people in my life and just move on from it. They bullying has stopped for a
while now, but those five years of my life were terrible. I realize that I have friends that care
about me and it’s not worth ending my life. I’m a much happier person and I will continue to be
for the rest of my life.
“I Believe in Life After Death”
Natasia Humphries
ENG 066
My first encounter with a spirit was when I was about 6 years old. I lived with mom, and
dad in Bronx, NY. We lived in an apartment building on the first floor and my grandmother (on
my mother’s side) lived right across the hall from us. My grandmother was like another mother
to me. She practically raised me when both my parents were working. She was never in good
shape like she used to be she seemed mostly sluggish and beaten down lately but she would
always try to hide it when I was around so I wouldn’t worry.
One day I came home and my mom and dad told me grandma was sent to the hospital
because she is feeling ill. I thought she would get better and come back home soon. The next
day I was brought to the hospital to go visit her. She looked worse than before, her skin was
pale, she lost a large amount of weight, and she was always cold. I stayed with her until it was
time for us to leave. The next night I went to bed as usual and fell asleep. Around midnight, I
felt someone shake my arm whispering “psst. Wake up. psst.” I slowly opened my eyes and
realized my grandmother sitting on the side of my bed. I could tell it was her by her scent she
always smelled like a mixture of vanilla and cinnamon. She was smiling so bright I can’t
remember the last time I saw her so happy. She whispered “I’m glad I get to see you before I
go.” I questioned her where is she going. She said “I’m going back home, my sweet.” She
slightly reached towards me to caress my face. I felt illuminating warmth from her hand onto my
cheek. She pulled my face up to her lips and kissed my forehead. “Be a good girl, and I love
you.” I grabbed her hand and asked her to sleep with me. I missed her so much. So she lay
down next to me and I held on to her until I was deep in sleep.
Next morning I woke up and she wasn’t there. I thought she got up and left somewhere
in the house. I got up out of bed and found my mom and dad at the dinner table. I noticed my
mom had tears running down her cheeks and my dad trying his best to comfort her telling her its
ok. I asked what happened. My dad told me to sit down and listen to him. So I did. He told me
they received a phone call this morning that grandma had passed last night. There’s no way she
passed away because I saw her with my own eyes, I recognized her scent, and everything. It’s
just not possible. Then I remembered what she told me last night. “She went home” I
whispered. “Yes, exactly sweetie. She is home, safe and sound.”
After that day, I began to grow to miss her. She was such an important person in my life,
now she’s gone. But as every day passes, I feel her presence as though she is watching over me.
This is why I believe in life after death.
“I Believe in Being a Jew”
Simona Levin
ENG 066
I believe in being a Jew. How could I not be a Jew when my ancestors died in
Auschwitz? How could I not be a Jew when my ancestors fought against the Nazis? How could
I not be a Jew when my family suffered at the hands of Stalin? How could I not be a Jew when
my family risked everything to leave communist Russia? How could I not be a Jew in a free
As I walk through the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., I see the
countless images of people who had died in misery, agony, and torture for merely being a Jew.
Those images had been my very own family members. As I look at the pictures of Jews getting
lined up to go to the gas chambers, I see images of my grandmother’s little cousins standing in
that line. I hear their names “Asta and Bella” being called by their mother for the very last time.
As I approach the end of the museum, I continue to see images of the brave, daring, and
committed soldiers who fought against the Nazis in World War II. I remember the numerous
stories my grandparents told me about how many members of my family had never come back
from the war or came back severely wounded. How committed they were to fight the ultimate
As I read my grandmother’s memoirs, I learn about Stalin’s crimes against his own
people and his crimes against the Jews. I can understand the pain in her writing—growing up
without a father when he was sent to a Soviet prison for being an innocent man. Because of this,
my great-grandmother was labeled an “enemy of the people.” Many of my relatives lost their
jobs over their religion.
My grandparents as well as my parents left the Soviet Union in the 1970s. At that time, it
was very risky to leave as a political refugee, because everything could have been taken away
from them including their children by the Soviet regime. They came to the United States with
only a few suitcases in hand. Without any chance to ever come back or see their family again.
As I sit here in my room, typing this essay, I come to see how easy it is for me to be a
Jew in America. How I, compared to my ancestors, can go to the temple on high holidays and
practice my religion. I can wear a Jewish star on my neck and be proud to be a Jew. I can learn
about my Jewish heritage without any fear.
Through all pain and suffering of previous generations, I believe in being a Jew.
In a song lyric reduction poem, writers create their poems from popular music
or poetry; others are simply inspired by these songs or poems. First, these
writers took the lyrics and cut out about half of the words in the song. Then,
they did this a second time. It was important that each writer maintained the
meaning of the original song while choosing the words that were removed.
In Ilya’s poem, she took one line from a previously published poem and
generated her own based on one line from the original—somewhat different
from the rest of poems presented here.
In both instances, not only will writing these types of poetry provide an
exercise in creative thinking, but they also help students improve their ability
to find the main idea of a passage, use accurate word choice, and create
summaries of their own.
Inspired by Langston Hughes’ “Dream Deferred”
Ilya Melinikos
ENG 084
Does it stink like rotten meat
when I tell you I can’t help?
Do you feel like you’re ashamed
when I say what’s on my mind?
Does your wine help you forget
when you drink it all the time?
Inspired by Jay-Z’s “Young Forever”
Jalin Sead
ENG 074, 084
Heaven can wait
let us live forever,
Without a wrinkle in today
cuz there is no tomorrow.
Fear not die, I’ll be alive for a million years,
my name shall be passed down to generations
I’ll be here forever.
Inspired by Demon Hunter’s “Deteriorate”
Courtney Baldwin
ENG 074, 084
Time has had its way with me.
My broken tired hands can’t build a thing.
The wires that have held me still embedded now in flesh to find my will.
The idle of my days is won, the empty I have fed has made me numb,
despite what you will find in me.
The failures of my past just swirl beneath.
I need a heart that carries on through the pain
when the walls start collapsing again.
Awaiting my end breathing in the day that finds me new.
Redemption begins bleeding out the flaws in place of you.
Inspired by Type O-Negative’s “Dead Again”
Mike Finch
ENG 066
The first to admit—I’m a doomed drug addict
No excuse for drug abuse
Said these lines a thousand times
Please make me smile if you learn from my trial
I’ll pay this price maybe saving your life
The pickup’s easy but the putdown’s rough
Up the nose or tap a vein
I had no pulse last time I checked
There are some things worse than death
I can’t believe I died last night—Oh God I’m dead again
I can’t believe I died last night—I’m fucking dead again
Inspired by Shayne Ward’s “Breathless”
Natalia Miranda
ENG 066
If your love was a fairy tale,
To an island where we’d say I do.
It’d be so beautiful if that came true.
You leave me breathless.
You just walked out of one of my dreams.
You’re something special,
But all I can do is try every day of my life.
Inspired by Don Trip’s “Letter to My Child”
Jhony Cambisaca
ENG 066
I want to see my baby.
And I see him for one hour—
For one day a week.
I love you, my baby.
I’ll see you in court.
You’ll be next to me, my baby.
I will get you out.
Students in select sections of ENG 066: Foundation of College Reading &
Writing, ENG 074 College Reading were given a task during their last week of
classes. They had to reflect upon their experience in their course, particularly
the areas where they succeeded, struggled, and what role they played in these
experiences. Then, they had to write down these responses for future students
to read and benefit from these experiences.
Additionally, students from select sections of FS 101: Freshmen Seminar began
writing their own “survival guides” in response to those published in the 2011-12
edition of Passage.
From the Students of ENG 066 (Spring 2012 and Fall 2012 semesters)
This selection takes the form of a Question & Answer session with selections from the
student responses.
What advice do you have about the course professors and the course itself?
“I made sure I stayed on top of my school work. Not only does that mean complete all the
school work on time, but also attending class every day assigned as well as studying outside of
class. Professors take attendance and can tell how hard a person is trying in their class. A
student must attend class to stay on top of his or her school work. Personally, I made sure I went
to every class; after all I was paying for it. Attending class also kept me astute with my work. I
was always up to date with the class discussion or lectures and never had to worry about catching
“At the beginning of the semester, many classmates and I often waited until the last minute for
an assignment. I learned to focus on my assignments earlier, which really helped me out in the
long run. The quality of my work improved enormously. I began to get the grades I wanted,
which were essential to my success.”
“High school teachers and college professors teaching styles are very different. High school
teachers do not ask you to fix a specific paragraph or your introduction. And that’s what I found
from being in ENG 066. A few mistakes can make an impact on your essays. My professor was
helpful on what should and shouldn’t be on essays. My professor’s detailed feedbacks really
helped me understand what I did wrong with errors and how I should correct them.”
What were some of the positive aspects of the course, and what were some ways students
were successful?
“Talking to your instructor and using e-tutoring.org are the best places you should look for help
and support in this course. Whenever you have a question or do not understand anything, after
class talk to your instructor. Also, check your instructor office hours and email. When you have
that set an appointment to speak to him or her and if you are too shy or scared to speak to him or
her directly, email is a great way to communicate.
Another great source that is provided to all students is e-tutoring. With e-tutoring you can
submit your essays to be read by other instructors and give you feedback on your essay. This is a
great support to have, because you can submit the same essay up to three times.”
‘I honestly enjoyed interacting with my classmates. I definitely enjoyed that the most from
“I found the tutors and e-tutoring very useful for my essays. I used e-tutoring whenever I had an
essay due and when I had to pick my essays for my final portfolio. The tutor helped me pick out
errors in my essay that I never picked up on my own. I was glad the instructor recommended
these services.”
“The time that was most enjoyable was when I was able to make an essay that I was very proud
of, and to be able to reflect on the progress I have made from the beginning of the semester.”
What were some of the most difficult parts of ENG 066, and where did you see students
“One of the most difficult aspects of this course is the workload you will receive. Our professor
did not make it easy on us during the semester. Homework was assigned that did not take fifteen
minutes do. Homework can take up to an hour or more to do. Also learning time management is
another hard aspect of the course. You have to be able to balance working hours and school
work. This course is a full-time job and demands your full attention.”
“In all I’m not saying this course is hard and I’m not saying it is easy but what I’m saying is that
it is all worth working hard for. Which is the one things I would’ve liked to have known before
taking this course that a lot of time and effort NEEDS to be put in at all times in order to do well
in ENG 066, which I learned the hard way. Your professors will make sure they push you to
become successful and you may not like it but in the end it is all worth the hard work.”
“Being late, absences, leaving class early and not turning in work on time are some behaviors
that led students to be unsuccessful in this class. Being late prevents you from hearing important
announcements. Every important announcement is announced at the beginning and end of class.
Therefore, being in class on time the whole time is a must. Also, if any work assignment is no
turned in on time, your instructor can’t help guide your work in the right direction. You are not
obtaining that feedback that the instructor gives back with every assignment turned in on time.”
“There was something’s that I realized that made students unsuccessful in this class. One of
them was never doing work. In the beginning of the semester the class had a lot of students;
toward the end nearly half the class dropped the course. Some students would just come
whenever they felt like it and then they would be behind with work. They wouldn’t know when
assignments were due nor if we had any assignments handed out.”
“Procrastination never works; the work will just keep building up in the future until you can’t
take it anymore.”
“The most important thing someone needs to know and realize as a student is to get help when
you need it. When it comes to ENG 066 the biggest thing you will do is write, with that being
said as student you need to make time to go to the writing center, it’s a place on campus that
gives you the much needed input to improve your essay and help you to edit your argument so its
clearer to your readers.”
What was it like moving from either high school or the work place to college?
“The workload had to be the biggest change from high school to college. During high school,
the workload wasn’t enough and I felt that I wasn’t prepared for college. Once I started college,
the classes were hard, but I managed to stick with it and keep up with my work.”
“The biggest change coming from high school to college is seeing all of the new students in the
same class as you. Especially if none of the students went to the same school as you. It’s always
hard making new friends in a new environment, but if you put yourself out there, you’re bound
to make some new friends.”
“Being away from school for many years made for a tough change. I was worried all the time
how I would do. But I kept at it all the time, and after a while, things just started to fall into
Final Thoughts?
“Hard work can put you high in the gradebooks. Hardwork can help you become a better
learner. And also keep in mind that passing this class will bring your closer to your school goals
and career. So its an obligation to work hard and make sure all the work is done.”
From the Students of ENG 074 (Spring 2012 and Fall 2012 semesters)
This selection takes the form of a letter from students of the past to students of the
We were thrilled to finally be able to share our experience in ENG 074, and provide a
reflective guide for future students. Even though we were faced with various challenges
throughout the semester we are now capable of thinking, reading, and analyzing information
critically. The skills we learned, such as how to read and think with purpose (including various
studying and note taking skills), recognizing author’s patterns, and formulating main ideas, are
essential and can be utilized in future classes and in life.
The first thing to do well in ENG 074 is to attend class. Sometimes things come up but
attending class and getting material is one of the most important things to do. If the class has to
be missed for anything serious or if something comes up at the last minute, EMAIL YOUR
PROFESSOR! Your professors have a tendency to get back to you in a speedy manor as long as
the emails come at a reasonable time. They are very understanding when it comes to class, but
missing class will still hinder what they taught for the days. If you take the time to learn as they
have taken the time to teach you will do well in this class.
Leaving high school or the working world, and making the transition to college is not
easy. First, we had to mentally readjust to the new environment and requirements of college.
High school and college are very different. Some differences that we noticed were the workload,
what is required, and what is acceptable distinguishes college from high school. In high school
what would be considered an ‘A’ or a pass would actually receive a lower grade in college. In
high school, we were required to write, reason, or share just small amount of information, or
information that gives only touches the suface. On the other hand, in college, we were required
to give more in depth information, and also provide support.
Another change coming from high school to college was responsibility and being more
independent. College is a choice and it’s up to you whether or not you come to class and
complete the work. You won’t have someone on your back making sure you hand your work in
or pressuring you to come to class. It’s your own responsibility as an independent person to push
yourself further ahead.
Those of us coming from a third world country found it was a bit difficult adjusting to
doing work online and throughout the semester it seemed as if we were always on Black Board
completing blog responses. However, to be successful in this course completing those responses
were essential to getting a check. I took the online work seriously, and was able to get nothing
less than a check on all responses.
One thing that was very helpful was just coming to class open-minded and finding a good
side to everything we were being taught. If I engaged in the discussion, participating and trying
my best to understand I usually got a pretty good result and understanding and it clearly showed
on my homework assignments. Not understanding a concept is perfectly ok. What is not ok is
not doing anything about it. I told myself I would get all of my homework done all the time and
I did. Lucky for me all of the activities and discussions were based on the homework so I was
always participating and involved in the class because I did what I was supposed to do. My
professor plans everything out, all of the activities and homework assignments led up to
something. Not one assignment was pointless because we all did an activity or a homework
assignment for a reason.
What I also enjoyed most about the class was that it is very active in and out of class as
some online learning gets put into the class as well. In class we would take the learning
outcomes and apply them in fun ways to help us practice and become consistent in our reading.
Group work was also helpful in the course. If you do not understand something you could
always discuss the subject you are having trouble with within your group and get input from
others. I would recommend you have a “study buddy” in class, an exchange phone numbers with
your “study buddy.”
Once you walk through that front door and class has already started, put your phone
away, take your headphones off and walk to your seat. Don’t try and be sneaky and slip a text in
because your professors will see you. You may think they’re just talking to the class not
worrying one bit about you but they are. Trust me and my classmates.
I noticed a lot of people dropped out of this class or stopped showing up, because they
couldn’t handle it, was fed up, or felt it was too much work. But, they didn’t realize they took
the wrong way out, they gave up. You never give up. This class may seem hard but when you
finally finish the work given, weight gets lifted off of your shoulder. I can be honest, I wish I
tried a lot harder in this class. Maybe I have to give it another found to show I can do it. But
take this advice and do what you have to do. We are all adults. You’re going to college to
follow YOUR dreams and be who YOU want to be. You’re not doing this for anybody but
yourself. Good luck!
Surviving Freshmen Seminar 101
John Torres
ENG 084, FS 101
As I sat waiting for the start of my freshman seminar class which is the third class I
would be taking on Tuesdays and the second class on Thursdays not knowing what to expect was
part of the thrill. Now that I face the end of my semester and the end of this class I am proud to
say I have learned a lot about myself, other students and the professor as well. This class helped
to open up a new world for me, a world I didn't think I would ever belong to, a world of writing,
reading and knowledge. In the next couple paragraphs I would like to reflect on some of the steps
I took to hopefully pass this class and also share a little advice for new comers to Freshman
First off I would like to say that doing the work that is asked of you is one of the most
important strategies one can use while in this class and having an open mind. Do not be afraid to
try new things and talk to new people, ask questions all the time, when your lost on something,
when your behind, ask as many questions as you need to get the information you need. The most
difficult aspect of this course to me was opening up to strangers and giving information about my
life freely to this course, the student body and my professor. Once I got over the initial fear
everything started to run very smooth for me. The easiest aspect of this course for me was the
writing, sometimes it is easier to open up and divulge such personnel information onto a paper
rather than speaking out loud. Do not get me wrong, there will be times when the professor will
ask the students to be ready to speak in front of the class. This was made easier by the students I
had around me which reminds me to tell you also that the students around you will be another
key factor in success not only in this class but in the future as well and by my professor who has
shown me that we all have the power to change our learning habits and overcome our fears. Me
being a 33 year old student that came to school after 16 years on the work force can honestly tell
you that the biggest change for me is that here in school you will be tested to do more than you
thought you could and pushed to do your best. See at work one can usually hand off what is
expected of them to a co-worker or someone who is willing to pick up the slack but here in
school your grades and future solely depend on you. If you are honest with yourself and are
willing to do the work then the rest will follow.
This class to me is truly the obstacle I needed to get me to realize that there are open
doors for everyone but one must reach out and find the help because it will not just come to you.
I found in this class most helpful to me was that this class taught me to not judge a book by it's
cover. Meeting the younger students for the first time I assumed they were all going to be the
same immature kids I used to know back in high school but to my surprise that was not the case
at all. Now I look at them with respect and I see before me some of the smartest kids I have ever
known who all have such great potential to be anything they want to be in life. Beware, there are
some behaviors one must avoid to be successful in this class and in life. One such behavior is not
showing up which is crucial to succeeding but also another is do not let the work pile up on you.
If one lets the work pile up to the last second then you will be overwhelmed and that is a quick
way to failing. The one thing I would have liked to know before entering this class is all the
reading that is involved. One last thing I want to remind any and all students who will be
attending the freshman seminar class is please pay attention to detail and read all instructions
thoroughly. I fell victim to not paying attention to detail and missed a whole page on my midterm test and well that did not help my grade at all.
Never would I have thought that I would meet an author with the accolades such as Nobel
Peace Prize Winner, War Veteran and founder of many great organizations for youths as Wes
Moore. The only reason I had the amazing opportunity to meet such a great man was because the
hard work I put in and for my professor pushing me to strive for more than just ordinary.
In addition to many of the more structured submissions, Passage also
encourages open submissions from students. These may include fan fiction
pieces, poems, or in-class assignments students are especially proud of writing.
“Wind Chimes”
Gracie McConnaughy
ENG 074
Solely, the wind whispers a memory
Shh, the silence lets time in the grass stand still
Pretending the wind can take me, as green thimbles frost my spine
I can’t help but smile when our laughter, smiles, divine grey eyes meet
I am a lost youth, giggling with no path built
Remember when our tears fell from laughter due to bruised knees,
The laughter we cried from the silhouettes of our dreams?
Solely, the wind blows away the misery
Dancing leaves flow like a currant’s song beside the ocean
Like your divine whispers tickling my ears;
I am a giggling youth, guideless in revolt.
Remember when my touch was gross due to my cooties,
When my mom had to wipe the tears away?
Your eyes bring the smiles from our youth to life.
Solely, the wind starts a symphony
Where the rain will wash sorrow away
The rainbow carries your smile so soon it to come
And we can breathe the air we knew as kids
The chiming dance in your hands lets me recall the wind
Like “Saria’s Song”, always taking my breath away.
“How My Son Vernon Changed My Life”
Vivan Dennis
ENG 066
My son changed my life. He came into this world is Vernon Anthony Dyer and he left is
Vernon Anthony Dyer. Vernon died April 28, 2005; we buried him May 5, 2005. That is when
my life changed. He was born November 11, 1979 on Veterans Day. However, he was a
preemie, weighing 5 lbs. 5 oz. My life changed that; I just didn't know it at time. On April 28,
2005 around 8:30 PM the phone rang. Jazz number, Vernon's daughter, who was just four years
old and I were watching TV. I answer the phone. It was Jesse's mother. I heard crying then
Shimon's words to me were mommy, Vernon got shot.
I was 21 years old one Vernon was born. It was a hard year for me. My mother had just
passed away, and my pregnancy was high risk. Yet, when he was born November that day he
made a difference in my life, from the first moment when I looked at him. I knew that my life
would never be the same. He was the first son to make me a grandmother, the first and leave his
leave home on his own, and the first one to go to prison. With Vernon it was always something
new and outrageous. His inspiration taught me how to enjoy life. What I would be feeling sad he
would make me laugh so hard that I would cry. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my
son gave me courage to go on with life and continue living. During this frightening times he had
to say quote we're going to ride this train until the mother talking wheels fall off!" Vernon went
with me every step of the way he told me that I was going live a long healthy life. The things that
he would say to me empowered me. Things like I was his Nubian Queen – the smartest woman
in the world. However he begged me to go back to school. He is my inspiration to do exactly
what I'm doing today – I'm back in school.
On that terrible night of April 28, 2005 at about 9:30 PM I went to Harlem Hospital.
When I got there the doctors told me my son had flatlined three times. Vernon passed away 11
PM. I got to see with the hospital for the very last time. My son was already gone but I sat with
my son and talked to him. I asked Vernon what was I going to tell the kids? What was I going to
tell Jesse? What was I going to say when the children asked me, “Grandma where is my daddy?"
To this day, I can still hear myself asking him these questions – how do you tell a child that their
father is gone? I didn't know he could hear because he was already gone. I promised him that I
would take care of his daughter's long as I have breath my body.
That is when the real changes begin. The death of my son made me stronger, I believed in
myself, and I became wiser and more possessive of my loved ones. Four months after the funeral
we had to move out of New York City because of Vernon's death; there were too many
reminders and painful memories for the family. So we moved to Norwalk, Connecticut Jesse
went to Jefferson elementary school and onto poetess Ridge middle school. I continue working
in New York for my uncle and the security business taking care of everybody and everything
except myself. I felt myself grieving, but would not allow myself to grieve in front of anyone,
however no one ever saw me break down. My son's death is a tragedy, I call it a gift. Why people
mask? Is because his death enhances the life of my family. His daughter Jasmine is doing well in
school, as for me I went back to school to get my GED.
Although Vernon always said that I am a strong black woman, I did not know how
strong! But I am intending Norwalk community college, getting my Associates degree in
business like my son wanted me to do. I'll be opening up my own security business soon, thanks
to my son. I also have a nice home – something that he would've bother me if he had lived.
However, I am renting. If we had remained in the city, none of these things would've happened.
Vernon gave me the strength to do all these things. We have our own private angel looking out
for us. This year, this month, this week, is the seventh anniversary of Vernon a Dyer's death. My
family is having a very hard time this year, especially his daughter, I don't know why this year so
hard for us, but it is. As a parent this is what I would like every parent to do: hug and kiss your
children and tell them that you love them and be there for them for tomorrow may be too late.
“A Wake Up Call”
By Alberto Elvir
ENG 066
Life is one precious gift, therefore we must all the right steps to make the right choices.
Growing up in this generation is very difficult, and most the times it all depends on how we want
to live our life. Life can be threatening and when it comes on situations like that is when people
realize who their for them to make a difference. I love the situation would change my life
entirely, for one night all the sudden everything got out of control, and the life of me and my
brother were being threatened by people who thought we were our friends. Quote trust no one
but yourself" is a saying used by teens as they grow up, they figure out its real meaning and
relevance, and sometimes tragic but that is when people have to make the choice of what kind of
life they will put themselves in.
February 13, 2010 was a data change my life. I lost my brother tragic event. He was shot
two times in his life instantly. I was also hurt by the same people but in a different way. I spent a
couple of months in the hospital. I wrote that day like it was yesterday, I had a weird feeling that
it was just not my day. My brother and I just got out of the car wash and we're doing inside
cleaning the car near our house when all of a sudden another car pulled over next to us, there
were a few people in the car but only two of them stepped out asking for something we didn't
know. They probably thought we were not telling the truth, but we were.
A fight began between my brother and one of the guys who stepped out. I tried to help
him in any possible way I could, but I had another guy to deal with at the moment. Everything
happened in less than 3 min. I was first picked up, I was stabbed one time. After that the last
thing I saw before going into shock because of losing a lot of blood, was my brother dropping to
the ground. People were around the place screaming for someone to call 911. My brother was
only 20 years old and what I regret the most was not named to do a little more for him that day.
I'm still wondering why they shot him, why not to do something less harmful. We were not doing
anything to anyone, but I can't say we're angels either. I don't think anyone should be treated like
we were that day.
It's hard losing someone that has been there since day one and ever since that happened I
decided I didn't want to end up the way my brother did. I made a choice to change my life
completely and so far worked out for me. School and family are now my priorities, I decided to
step out of everything I've been involved in, not because of me, but because I was bringing more
worries my family. Also the last thing a man wants to see a mother cry, I do well and mother to
go through the same thing again. Now I think about it, see the differences in me, there are better
things out there to do that I want to do the haven't got the chance. For example I want to travel
and make better friends. I would've never thought I'd see myself or am right now at this point my
life, it hasn't been easy, but I can't complain either.
Life is beautiful; I have plan to do so many things in the future but I know in order to get
what I want I must do the right thing I saw that being in the street was no place for me, that I
needed to spend my time doing things that are going to benefit me in the future and to have a
new type of friends. Life is full of lessons that no matter how difficult they get we must learn and
take advantage of them to make a positive result from others who choose not to. I had to go
through a hard situation but somehow it was like a wake up call. I don't need any bad influence
in my life anymore.
SPRING 2013, vol. 7