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PREFACE In 2002, VC English Professor, Kelly Peinado, envisioned VC Voices as “a supplementary textbook with models of good research, solid reasoning, and consistent style.” Twelve editions (and much labor!) later, English students are still enjoying a publication that evidences what their peers can achieve in writing each year. VC Voices 2013 marks the expansion of Professors Peinado’s vision. This edition continues the tradition of publishing the works of English students from every course level and showcasing our student art award winners, but aims to be inclusive of writing from across the disciplines. We’re publishing the health department’s GMO Writing Contest winner as well as an essay from the social sciences. This publication is truly collaborative and would not be possible without the help of many people. We would like to thank the following: our colleagues in the English department for judging, editing, and encouraging their student writers; the students of the Ventura College art department for creating the artwork featured throughout this anthology; Dina Pielaet for artwork, photography, publication design, and brilliance; Raeann Koerner for living the idea of “writing across the curriculum” by hosting a health department writing contest; and the entire art department, for their enthusiasm and support of a creative and decidedly non-pedestrian campus vision. We are grateful to the VC Foundation and ASVC for providing much needed funds for student awards and printing costs. Kathy Scott, our dean, also generously kicked in money to help sustain this important project that proves that Ventura College rewards the work of creative minds. Russian writer, Anton Chekhov, writes, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” In honor of Kelly Peinado’s shining moon, we present to you VC Voices 2013. Sharon Beynon Amanda Enfield Jenna Garcia Kelly Peinado Jaclyn Walker Editors AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


JUDGES 2013 Heather Aguilar Gabriel Arquilevich Sharon Beynon Amanda Enfield Ayanna Gaines Jenna Garcia Henny Kim Eric Martinsen Kelly Peinado Peter Sezzi Jaclyn Walker Ann Wolfe

ARTISTS 2013 VC Voices would like to thank Bob Moscowitz and the Ventura College student artists whose work appears throughout this publication. All student artists were selected to participate in the Annual Student Art Competition and Exhibition.

Eli Suzuki-Gill: Whisper Honey Bee


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WRITERS T.O .C. English 1A

English 1B

Sex & Ice-cream by Nalasa Cutler: 6

Paint and Feathers: A Study of Loss by Gregory Anderson: 62

Killing Me Softly by Gillian Bartley: 10

Don’t Smother this Mother by Troy Ritter: 66

Enter Dorothy, My Therapist in Her Life and My Codega in Her Death by Gillian Bartley: 14 War and Friends in 14 Days by Nathan Britton: 18 Answering Opportunity’s Knock by Rebecca Kortan: 22

English 2 Forever My Home by Tawney Allen: 72 Where Did Education Go Wrong? by Mike Federico: 76 Improving Target Security by Angela Guerrero: 80

Sick: The Disparity of Health Care in America by Sara Morgan: 28 Rise of the Machines by Benjamin Vander Heide: 36 The Truth Will Set You Free by Tommi Voutis: 44

Read Along with Me, Gain Knowledge by Alyssa Mendoza: 84 A Magnificent Man by Jaelene Mora: 86 Blessings of Life in Disguise by Madison O’Donnell: 90

Simpler Times by Anoothi Seth: 48 Nursing: Not for the Weak of Heart by Rebecca Malan: 52

The Importance of Nature in Children by Jasmin Silva: 92

A Missed Opportunity to Fix Politics by Daniel McGunigale: 56



WRITERS T.O .C. English 3


The Abandoned House by Carrie Escobar: 100

Social Sciences Essay on Nationalism by Leanna Rhodes: 122

Hell and Back by Joshua Green: 102 A Delicious Memory by Alyssa Mendoza: 108 Muslims in the United States of America after 9/11 by Jesus Morales: 112 The Unspoken Dream: Trust, Love, Respect by Laura Magana: 116

Woe is Me. Poor Poor Pitiful Cory: Do They Think That My Stool Does Not Stink? by Evan Funnell: 124 Teeth by Daniel Chavez: 126 GMO Essay Contest Winner GMO Food Labeling by Brandon Talmadge: 134

Wade Ebel: Zomicca (Detail)


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Nalasa Cutler Sex & Ice Cream People are filled each day with a bombardment of cravings. Stimuli from a wide variety of sources compete for people’s attention everyday. American society is filled with desires and cravings. The populace is encouraged to crave. They are encouraged to pursue their happiness. But does satisfying cravings lead to happiness? Or is it an itch one can’t stop scratching? How can people heal the wounds of craving and learn to stop scratching the same spot over and over so that they might be led to a cure for their soul? American society has been overpowered by the forces of consumerism and influenced by advertising. People are attacked by advertisements everyday that undermine their self-esteem, making them doubt their body, or crave a new product, causing the mass populace to feel inadequate. Many advertisements are laden with subliminal messages. Advertising tells people, and has been imbedded into people’s subconscious, that when they buy more they will feel more complete and that they will eventually be satisfied. Alan Thein Durning, author of “Are We Happy Yet? How the Pursuit of Happiness is Failing,” points out that television commercials and magazine ads might not sell us their product every time, but the never-ending bombardment of advertising constantly reiterates the idea that there is a quick fix, “a product” that will cure all of our “life’s problems.” In short, “Advertisers thus cultivate needs by hitching their wares to the infinite existential yearnings of the human soul” (Durning 23). The populace is made to think that if they attain enough, they will be satisfied. Looking around at society, this is clearly not true. Happiness or satisfaction does not get achieved once people attain enough material wealth or reach a certain level on the economic ladder. A temporary gratification might be reached, and the itch might be soothed for a moment, but the craving to scratch will quickly return. Within the last few decades, material wealth has skyrocketed, but has this made society happier? Juliet Schor, a professor of sociology at Boston College, asserts, “Materialism has not only failed to make us happy. It has also bred its own form of discontent” (116). Society’s impulse for consumerism has actually created more of a problem for the typical American to find happiness. Looking around, there is so much empty wealth, and simultaneously there is a ceaseless craving of constantly wanting more. There is a deep yearning in people for attaining happiness and satisfaction. One of the problems that have been bred from this materialistic society is that people compare their own possessions and position in life to everyone else’s. In this internal comparison they throw in their own self-worth and happiness, making a strong electrical link in the circuits of the brain. People think, “If those people look happy and have that much, 6

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then if I have that much too, I will also be happy.” This competitive nature is not what I think Darwin meant when he talked about “survival of the fittest.” Competitive nature is ingrained into American society. While driving the other day, I saw a bumper sticker that said “My grandchild is cuter than yours.” Society is filled with this blatant drive to compare. In my mind I said, “I don’t even have a child, let alone a grandchild. And even if I did, how do you know mine isn’t equally cute or more so!” The bumper sticker was such a simple statement, seemingly sweet and at the same time very aggressive and competitive. Why does it seem intrinsic in human nature to constantly compare oneself to someone else? Deep down inside people know that self-improvement is good, and that it is good to strive to be better. The problem is that advertising has fed people’s competitive nature, their instinctual desire for improvement, and has embedded into people’s minds that being “better” is about being better than someone else. Paradoxically, advertising media has also set the ideal standard so high that it’s an absurd goal for anyone to reach. Advertising focuses on a person’s “outer shell” and the material world of “selfimprovement,” ushering people to compete with an unobtainable imaginary image. People harshly critique everything around them because they internally criticize themselves. People need to stop judging themselves against other people and focus instead on their own personal growth. What is their process of improvement? What do they want to create and have, not to out do their next-door neighbor, but to accomplish what they want for themselves? Is there a balance one can attain between growth and competition? There is healthy competition. People can look at another person’s talents and get inspired to strive to be better themselves. The key here is to improve oneself; seeing how someone else has succeeded in life can inspire an individual to reach farther or grow deeper. Growing up everyone has a role model. Do individuals compete with their role model, or is it a healthy form of competition to see what one can aspire to? More often than not, people get stuck in comparing themselves to someone else; they try to be “better” than someone as opposed to growing independently by example of inspired possibility. Passion is good; desire is a powerful fuel that can be used to give people purpose and direction in their lives. But society is clearly being influenced; people need to pay attention to where their desires and cravings are coming from. What fire are they feeding? Are they internal desires, like yearnings for adventure, a happy marriage, a rewarding career, or a satisfying life? Or are they temporary fixes, like the cool sweetness AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Nalasa Cutler: Sex & Ice Cream of an ice-cream on a hot day, getting to the next level of Super Mario Brothers, getting a nicer car to show higher status, or going on an exotic vacation to brag about it to your friends or coworkers? Desires are good, but we need to look at what the driving force is behind them. Are we doing something for our own satisfaction or for the image it creates for others? Is it bringing a satisfying lasting happiness that feeds the soul, or does it breed insatiable desires, causing the wound to never stop itching? The wound might be deeper than it looks. Bill Plotkin, author of Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World, talks about how Western society is stuck in an “adolescent society” that has “egocentric values” as opposed to “soulcentric” values. These egocentric values consist of “safety, comfort, middleworld pleasures, and enhancement of socioeconomic status” (46). Plotkin goes on to say that while having safety, both physical and medical, people primarily seek social safety obtained from acceptance and belonging. He also says that enjoying pleasures and having economic comfort isn’t a bad thing. However, the real issue is that these values are the “defining goals” that make up American society. It’s not that having all of these values are bad, but what is lacking in the system? It is the ceaseless pursuit of wealth, security, and pleasure, within the “absence of soul.” The pursuit of egocentric values can easily lead to addictions, boredom, alienation, and meaninglessness. Looking around at the world today, one can clearly see these prevalent problems everywhere, through advertising and people’s competitive spirits. Plotkin states, “The egocentric society cuts out its own heart and attempts to live without it” (47). Individuals in society need to reclaim their hearts, delve into their passion and yearnings, and start to discover themselves more fully. There is no “one path” to happiness; everyone is individual. But we can clearly see that material wealth does not lead there. People in society need to find their individual soul-centered self and focus on creating deeper connections with friends, family and the natural world. Focus on “Soulcentric” values such as compassion, beauty, grace, being of service, and love. Simple acts create much more abundance and beauty in the world. How much better would we all be by practicing altruism, giving for the sake of giving without expecting something in return, and practicing random acts of kindness? Individuals need to learn to follow the desires of their hearts instead of their egos, and they need to learn to recognize the fleeting cravings influencing them by advertising. It is essential for people to stop, slow down, and take a look to reevaluate what is important in their lives. A first step is to work on making small changes in their lives, and learning to love and accept themselves fully instead of being influenced by media and cultural standards. We can only love others as much as we love ourselves. By getting


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centered in their hearts they will be able to walk with grace and follow their intuition and desires. This will lead to a much deeper personal happiness.

Works Cited Durning, Alan Thein. “Are We Happy Yet? How the pursuit of happiness is failing.� The Futurist Jan.-Feb. 1993: 20-25. Print. Plotkin, Bill. Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2008. Print. Schor, Juliet. The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure. New York: Harper Perennial, 1992. Print.

Noel Adams: Alexander



Gillian Bartley Killing Me Softly Life turns pink the moment September rolls into October; it’s the time when the media saturates the community in pink in support of breast cancer. Yes, that is the language I hear repeatedly: “Support breast cancer.” What is actually happening in the month of October as a sea of warm, fuzzy, pretty pink everything colors our world, igniting the hearts of the socially aware consumers? With all due respect to the people who have an honest desire to make a difference by directing their disposable income toward companies who are creatively marketing a belief, do they think that by purchasing their “pink” products that lives are being saved? Frankly, they are to be commended; however, I suggest it is time to have a different conversation. Just imagine if consumer purchasing could actually cure breast cancer. If this were the case, we would be out of the cancerous woods by now. I do understand and appreciate just how many lives are being saved by the widespread media exposure breast cancer has received over the years. After all, more women are now getting mammograms, performing self exams, talking about the disease openly and empowering and encouraging each other to be our own advocates for our breast health. All of these positive changes are a result of the early advocates raising our awareness to breast cancer over twenty-eight years ago when the campaign began. Yet, the survival rate has not changed dramatically in the past twenty-eight years. Moreover, the billions of pink products sold and advertised under the guise of saving lives is misleading. The recorded deaths from breast cancer have dropped only slightly, about 2% of lives per year since 1990. In the U.S. alone, 117 women died of breast cancer every day in 1991. Today that number is 110 (Pink Ribbons, Inc.). Again, this is not a significant improvement. Is saving lives the ultimate purpose of Breast Cancer Awareness month? Breast cancer has become the poster child for cross marketing as it increases this pink pairing mania with companies endorsing “The Cause.” Pink ribbons and paraphernalia may be contributing to an adverse and dangerous distraction from actually saving lives. I view the saturated exposure as taking away from the tragedy and impact that a breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, reconstruction, recovery and/or fatal outcome can have on a woman. Since more women are getting routine mammograms and initiating them at a younger age than the suggested age of forty, we are now seeing a significant increase in breast cancer diagnoses. In fact, in the 1940’s, woman diagnosed with breast cancer was one in twenty-two. In 1992, one in nine women was diagnosed with breast cancer, and in 2012 the ratio of women being diagnosed is one in eight (Gayner). Many view 10

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this increase as a result of early detection; therefore, we find less significant, more treatable breast cancer increasing the possibility of survival. We are led to believe this is progress and that lives are being saved. But what is the real truth? More importantly, what is the residual effect going to be over time? Is this “Pink” phenomenon, with sexy cute slogans such as “save second base” and “save the tatas,” which suggest a soft feminine approach to this disease, undeniably, killing us softly? In one word “Yes.” I see a tragic adverse effect originating from the breast cancer culture, an experience which is impacting our resilience and perception. Many women, including myself who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, followed by a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and ongoing hormone treatment, get to experience national breast cancer awareness in a different light. I believe the message being conveyed by the media is a skewed one. Therefore, I have a genuine concern for women due to the adverse impact the media hype October “breast fest” is creating. As the sea of “pretty pink” spreads, very few campaigns represent the residual effects surgeries and treatments are having on the patients. Because there are many more survivors due to early detection of indolent tumors (nonaggressive tumors), people are becoming more comfortable with the disease as we are witnessing what appears to be a higher survival rate. Another horrendous trend is occurring as women are looking at the so-called physical and cosmetic benefits of breast cancer which one woman so boldly wrote about on her Facebook page: “Sometimes I wish to have breast cancer so I can go through chemo, get skinny and then get a boob job.” By not showing the tragedy of breast cancer and the residual effect it has on a woman’s life, we are sending the wrong message and a false sense of security and, essentially, ignoring the seriousness of this terminal illness. I can personally attest that breast cancer patients do not get “boob jobs.” It is called reconstructive surgery, which is a series of multiple surgeries providing for symmetric shape in clothing. Underneath the threads shrouding these bodies is the ever present disfigured, scared, numb, nipple-less, painful, and uncomfortable physical and emotional evidence of mortality each day. This is not to mention the hormone issues and long term side effects from chemo and medications ingested in hopes of preventing the cancer from returning. With most cancers this is referred to as “being in remission.” Yet with breast cancer we must be terminally grateful survivors, forced into a state of celebration, prohibiting the reality and feelings of anticipating the other shoe to drop. Breast cancer is being portrayed as curable much like the common cold. The three-day AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Gillian Bartley: Killing Me Softly walks are kicked off with songs such as “Celebrate Good Times” by Kool and the Gang. It is time to get back to basics and treat breast cancer with the respect it demands. Women diagnosed with cancer, living with cancer, and dying from cancer must be in the forefront of the media’s interest to raise the awareness and the funding for the cure. We need to expose the reality and the humanness of the suffering from this pervasive disease. Additionally, we need stop collecting and counting survivors in order to make society more comfortable. People do not want to believe breast cancer kills. It is much more comforting to hear about patients diagnosed with stage I, II, or III as this means we can hopefully add more numbers to the survival rates. The misconception regarding staging is that a low-numbered stage predicts a likely survival. This is not always the case. Many cancer patients have their cancer detected as early as stage 0 or I, but if it is an aggressive cancer there can be no chance of survival. Another misconception is that of being a survivor, which is a label we are far too quick to assign to the patient, and very soon after you might not be a survivor after all. I mention this in honor of my friend Tanya who, eleven months ago, proudly stood up at our Ribbons of Life Foundation meetings elated to be a breast cancer survivor. Sadly, this morning she is lying in a hospital bed, in her home, waiting to take her last breath and to be relieved of the pain she is experiencing from the new and aggressive cancer consuming her body. As Dr. Susan Love observed, “National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was helpful at the time, but it has outlived its usefulness….Early detection is a really nice message — it makes you feel in control, but it doesn’t address our current understanding of how cancer works. We need to know how cancer works to learn how to prevent and cure it.” (Pink Ribbons, Inc.) How about seeing if we can move closer to the cure? After all, October has since passed and we now have eleven months to go until our next pink mania mayhem. I am quite certain the marketing executives are already busy cooking up new campaign ideas to get a piece of the pink ribbon profit as well as an alluring compassionate image for their companies’ products or services. If we are going to raise the awareness of breast cancer, consider how we might expand the “awareness” by not discriminating against the actual reality of the disease. I believe we have the survivors represented with the Pink Products Mania; however, let us not forget the fatalities in the upcoming campaigns. After all, in 2012, there have been 39,510 deaths from breast cancer and breast cancer happens to be the most common cancer among women in the United States. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women (American Cancer Society). Perhaps we ought to consider pink funeral services offering pink coffins, pink flowers, pink ribbons garnishing the coffins and headstones made from pink marble. To top it all off, perhaps even sway to the music of “Pink” at the funerals. Or would that be too 12

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risky for the companies investing in the disease? They just may lose profits by making consumers uncomfortable with the reality of breast cancer. Imagine that.

Works Cited American Cancer Society. “Breast Cancer Overview.” American Cancer Society. 04 Sep.2012. Web. 14 Nov 2012. Gaynor, Mitchell L. “The New War on Cancer: Against All Causes.” Explore. Jul. 2005, Vol. 1, No. 4. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. Pink Ribbons, Inc. Dir. Léa Pool. National Film Board of Canada (NFB), 2011. Film.

Leah Wiitablake: Figure Study



Gillian Bartley Enter Dorothy, My Therapist in Her Life and My Codega in Her Death For the client, the therapeutic relationship is deeply intimate. You share your broken self with the therapist, and you work together on the art of not only putting the pieces back together but on finding acceptance, a trust and a love for oneself in spite of the fractures and blemishes of one’s existence. The client can feel understood, cared about, in love, alive, loved unconditionally, aroused, heard, and secure in this relationship, as I did throughout the six years I was in therapy. That was when I was not yet connecting these feelings to the relationship with my emerging “self.” The therapeutic hour, “a permeable container,” is a chosen period, a comfortable and private space. Initially, the only glimpse you get of this person, your therapist, to whom you feel so connected, is through his or her style, choice of décor, literature on the bookshelves, and the art adorning the space. The room is then filled with the clients’ world, bringing in their parents, siblings, partners, lovers, animals, abusers, teachers, and friends, exposing them, as they want to present them. A great sense of power comes from the client being able to introduce these beings as the client perceives them. The client will ultimately emerge, acknowledge, relate and accept, as he or she follows the light and the guide--meeting, recognizing, developing, and embracing all these sub personalities in themselves. The client is deep in the therapeutic relationship, feeling a part of something amazing, intimate, and safe under the care of the therapist, who is gently, skillfully, and compassionately protecting the relationship and maintaining the boundaries. A therapist is akin to a “Codega” who is a fellow one would hire at night in Venice in the 1800’s. The Codega would lead the way with a lit lantern, scaring off thieves and demons, bringing one confidence and protection through the dark canals. Then one day, my therapist died. Although I had graduated for the time being, she was still my therapist, the birthplace of my healing soul. I was led to Dorothy several years ago. Today I can say, “Many lifetimes ago.” I have been on a path of endless seasons and personal transformations since the day I first sat with her. Mind you, I would not be writing this story today if I had succumbed to my insecurities and fears the evening of February 6, 1996. It was already dark when I showed up for my appointment fifteen minutes early, dressed 14

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to impress, makeup flawless, the terrified child hiding deep inside my armor of “Look at me! I’ve got it so together!” I was eager to begin. I still have the copy of the scribbled directions that I held in my hand that day. 1111 Bath St, wooden gate, walk down path, see bench, wait there for Dorothy, appointment 5 PM. These directions were not to lead me to Dorothy that evening; I arrived at 1111 Bath, reviewed the directions and walked through the heavy half-moon wooden gate nestled between two deep, lush green manicured walls, which held the garden. Its beauty distracted me. It was not yet summer or light outside, but the space demanded my attention. My eyes scanned trees, statues, bird feeders, crystals, fountains, a bench - “Ah! A bench. Yes, I remember a bench; I must wait at the bench.” I settled in ready to wait ten minutes before getting to meet the woman who had been so gentle and inviting on the phone. The moments passed, thoughts passed, and I waited. And waited and waited until 6PM. The waiting did not end with me having my first therapy session. She did not show. I felt disappointed, a little battered from the letdown that was a long fall from the buildup of anticipation. I went home. However, I was not defeated. I called to tell her I was there, and to my surprise, so was she. Referring to the directions, I noticed I forgot one small detail. “Walk down path”-- I was at the wrong bench. That hour alone, waiting for my first therapy session was the most valuable lesson I could have learned at that time in my life. I learned I was ready to surrender. You see, the isolation that I felt on that bench wasn’t a foreign feeling to me. It had become part of my existence. I felt it every day, no matter who I was with. I was ready to become acquainted with myself and feel complete again. I returned the following week and dropped the first pebble that created the ripples of my life transformation. I spent many years in therapy with Dorothy. In that time, I became acquainted with myself and the challenges that had paralyzed me for a lifetime. I experienced feelings I didn’t know I had. My therapy was the only commitment I had ever made to myself, for myself, and continued without ever fleeing when the pain became too much. Six years into this sacred relationship, the issues that I had come to her with had softened; some had dissipated and therefore did not dominate my life any more. And then the dreaded day crept in. It was becoming obvious to us both that it was time for my therapy to end. I never wanted that day to come, and I struggled with the reality AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Gillian Bartley: Enter Dorothy, My Therapist of not being able to have her in my life anymore. Ironically, boundaries “had to” come into play in our client-therapist relationship. It doesn’t evolve, it comes to an end. With the awareness of the impending closure, I started to visualize the reality of Dorothy not being a “constant” in my life. I simply could not imagine it. Dorothy posed this monumental question to me: “Gill, if you had to choose, what would be most important to you? The six years that we have spent together in your healing, and growth that has come from this. Or us being friends? Keeping in mind, if we are friends I can never be your therapist again.” Thankfully, at that very moment my soul answered, something deeper inside me enlightened me; my therapy was cardinal. I knew my heart and mind had a different idea. I was really going to miss Dorothy. Fortunately, so much more of her had seeped in. Remember the choice of décor, literature on the bookshelves, and the art adorning the space? That was just the backdrop. I had embraced her spirit. Dorothy was a gentle woman, so gentle that I sometimes questioned if I was “Getting good work done.” She created buoyancy, and I maneuvered gently along. Her humanness was constant; tears were shed, and not just mine. Laughter exploded; I will always remember her unforgettable laugh. Sometimes on the lighter sessions I would entertain her just to see that head kick back and that burst of delight amplify. Dorothy was wise, relaxed, brilliant, compassionate, and loving. Her voice carried all that she was; the soft vibrations would seep into my ears and my heart. Her spirit conducted, and her voice was the instrument of her being. I had come to love the melody. With therapy over, I bounced into my life. I was back in the game and not going back. I had impressed myself. I moved on confidently for I was given a gift. Dorothy did not extract herself from my physical world; after all, she knew my story. She simply said as I was leaving “Check in sometime.” In that moment, we exchanged a silent communication. Her eyes said, “I’m here.” Mine responded, “I’ll respect that freedom.” The years moved by quickly. I was confident that I was doing great in my life. I checked in intermittently with Dorothy. Life was good and I was enjoying the party. February 18, 2008, my life changed. I never imagined I would feel so much grief. Dorothy died; she was gone. I spiraled out of control, losing my footing. My light went out, and I buried my soul with her. What happened to those six years of therapy? What happened to me?


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Dorothy saved my spiritual and emotional life twice in my lifetime, yet once in hers. The second time I believe her spirit led me gently to my recovery. Various unexplainable synchronicities brought me to places and people that were never on my radar. The comparison of who I was then and who I am today four years after her death is a miracle. Somehow, as I was wallowing in a swirl of abuse, disregard, self-pity, and hate, I was blessed with awareness and a moment of clarity. I came face to face with my own powerlessness. I raised my eyes and looked up. Today I am on a voyage in a world that I was so fearful of entering, which is my deep heart center. My belief when I finished therapy was that all the work done by myself and Dorothy held us both responsible for maintaining a “good life” for me. This illusion lasted as long as it could last. Therefore, when one of the pillars of my life died the rest of my life crumbled. Today, I live in the light of love from a source outside of my physical world. This light is my sacred trilogy made up of My God, My Codega, which I believe to be Dorothy’s spirit of light, and the Universe. Today, thanks to Dorothy I am living, I am awake, I am exploring, I am feeling, I am safe, and of course always a little fearful, and that is because I am human.

Samantha Crostic: Let the Caged Bird Sing



Nathan Britton War and Friends in 14 Days Life happens. A statement that describes all facets of the unexpected, and our awareness of this force of nature will cause many of us to guard ourselves against the potential dangers life has in store. We build defenses around ourselves to prepare for the obstacles life may throw at us, from life threatening situations, to the discomfort of opposing ideals. New Years 2010, while engulfed in a mass of inebriation and a slew of New Year greetings, I experienced an overwhelming premonition of my year to come. The following seven months of my life would be spent at war, and suddenly I wanted to silence the steady flow of New Year well-wishes, For no one, including myself, understood what my year would entail. Regardless of what we may anticipate, sometimes it’s best to just remove the barriers and open ourselves to new experiences. Lose the tension and allow life to happen. In January 2010, I departed for my final deployment to Afghanistan. This should have been a maritime deployment for our battalion, during which I would have been in the southern Philippines working in small villages and earning a very handsome per diem. During our Christmas break, following President Obama’s order for a 30,000-troop surge in Afghanistan, we learned that our battalion would be expedited into deploying to the Middle East in order to expand and create new camps for these troops to arrive that following summer. Directly after our holiday break, “the machine” started to grind and groan as we prepared to leave a month earlier than scheduled. After two days of travel, the advance party arrived in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Located in the southern region, Kandahar is a flat, dusty city surrounded by distant mountains, and the camp is home to its very own Bellagio, named after the fountains of the Las Vegas hotel. The Bellagio is a fowl septic system of fountained ponds of human waste, which by stench alone, confirm that you had in fact arrived at Hell on Earth. The camp is large enough to be considered a village at the least, and it represents many nations, all of which are targets for the non-discriminatory rockets that are launched randomly from cleverly rigged unmanned positions throughout the surrounding landscape everyday. We spend our first couple of weeks in the country involved in training for new tactics and awareness, reorganizing troops and leaders, and experiencing an overall feeling of general disorientation. We get lumped into new groups of squads and details with people we’ve never met or worked with in the past, spending every public and private moment with them. This could be quite overwhelming for a first timer, but at this point I happily looked at these events as the first couple steps of a long staircase crafted from shit, at the end of which, your feet fall on the asphalt of Point Mugu, California.


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Despite the confusion and clustered mess of people and weapons, I developed an unexpected and resilient friendship with my colleague, Travis Salsbury. We were service members of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Four, which is assigned a variety of horizontal and vertical construction projects. Travis was a plumber, and I worked as a carpenter. Prior to this deployment we had occasionally worked and socialized together, though we had never been more than acquaintances. I’m not quite sure just how our relationship started, but it was shortly after our arrival to Kandahar. Travis and I had been assigned to different detachments that would soon be deployed to different regions, so perhaps it started over dinner at the tented chow hall with mutual friends. Many of my military friendships have been started in this fashion, by stuffing our faces. However, I do distinctly remember the two of us bouncing brilliant comedy off of each other, causing plenty of snide glances from salty old timers too institutionalized to enjoy a good joke over a crap meal. Travis and I were hysterical, at least to each other; I can’t vouch for those who had to deal with our boisterous behavior. The two of us went from casual acquaintances to beautiful heterosexual life partners; soon we were behaving like a couple. Dinner and a movie, breakfast in bed, long walks by the shit pond, you know, the usual courtship. Travis would come out of his way to fetch me for dinner and I would return the favor at breakfast. Admittedly, I would get agitated if we missed a meal; the days were long and arduous without the usual uproar of laughter or uncharacteristically deep conversation during a dinner, occasionally eaten off the floor when the rockets remind us of where we really were. One day, a Friday if I remember correctly, we had liberty from training and work. We decided that the day couldn’t be better spent than exploring the base. We strolled through dusty roads and between drab carbon copy buildings, as if they were lush botanical gardens. This is one of my all-time favorite memories, to be in a war zone, lightheartedly wandering around like it’s Central Park. Content to skip stones over a tiny pond we’d haphazardly found on the edge of camp, until a British MP chastised us for “malingering,” or some other nonsensical military word for “enjoying oneself.” We lost ourselves to our own crafted peace and joy in a world of violence and chaos. A gradual feeling of alarm arose through the progression of our friendship, as I realized how we fundamentally differed from one another. While I spoke of training rigorously for marathon races, Travis would respond to it with dreams of peacefully passing away as morbidly obese as possible, practically spilling over in a bathtub. The guy has a long way to go; I’m sure even at this very moment, someone is looking at him sideways and wishing him a sandwich. Our backgrounds and beliefs were typical polar opposites. AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Nathan Britton: War and Friends in 14 Days I had been raised in a relatively fanatical religious household, my behavior as a youth was very mild mannered, and I was usually content to keep to myself. Travis had characterized himself as a youth in revolt, dead set to dress as clownish as possible in church, and given the opportunity to goof, he would exceed. Travis is the one kid at the house party with no regard to the well-being of the household, painting the living room wall with Gwar’s dinosaur, Gor Gor. Our adult lives have experienced some drastic role reversals. Today, I’m a very philosophical atheist and tattoo artist with the lifestyle many might expect of that label, and I have absolutely no intention of procreating. Travis on the other hand takes his devotion to Christ very seriously these days; he was the guy organizing bible study three nights a week in Afghanistan, which many may consider over the top on the civilian side, let alone in the fraternity of the military. At home he relaxes with a beautiful family that receives his utmost attention and affection; no Facebook photo is complete without one of his daughters. Before we met in this nation of poppies and delicious bread, I would most likely have avoided Travis due to the labels I might have applied to him, based on his lifestyle. Then came another Friday. One week after our glorious day of stone skipping, I received word that the following day my detachment would be moving far north to a German base known as Camp Marmal, just outside of the city Mazar-e-Shariff. As I mentioned before, Travis and I were not in the same detachment. After the devastating news sunk in, we decided that we would have one last “date” before I left. Unfortunately, due to the preparation for movement, we were unable to fulfill this final hoorah. In addition to separate detachments, Travis would also be separating from the Navy a month before the deployments end. The time spent in Kandahar totaled two weeks, and I have not seen Travis since. Toward the end of my enlistment with the Navy, I began to appreciate the volume of friendships I had developed in six years. Nearly every six months I would be shuffled around to work with new people and develop new social skills. For Travis and me, our friendship is one of the strongest and definitely shortest I have ever experienced. The two of us keep in touch through Facebook, but as to be expected, it’s not the same relationship. Regardless, I cherish the time we had spent together; I relish in the thought that we will meet again, at which time we will surely pick up right where we left off. This experience has enlightened my path to look past the labels that we not only apply to those around us, but also to ourselves. Most importantly, I will slow down and appreciate what I have to be grateful for, no matter the tribulations life will toss my way.


2013 VC Voices

Miguel Leyva: Cousin Love



Becky Kortan Answering Opportunity’s Knock To my parents, who were farmers and never knew from one week to the next what would happen to the crops they raised, the American Dream meant hard work from dawn to dusk, saving every penny in order to make life better for their children. They did not believe in going into debt; what they could not pay for with cash, they did not get. My father often had two or more jobs, because farming was not profitable on its own. My mother helped raise the food we ate, made our clothes, and knew how to stretch that penny to make it go as far as possible. They also had a great faith in God, which sustained them through the hard times. My parents would very much agree with the quotation Paul Krugman offers in his article “Confronting Inequality” that “people get rewarded for their effort” (590), and their lives were based on that belief. Making the most of opportunities available only in America is the American Dream in action. Both my parents graduated from high school, which was an accomplishment for them, as neither of their parents had even that much education. My grandparents went to work at a very young age to help support their families. There was simply no time or money to finish school, let alone go to college. Their lives consisted of working to put food into the mouths of their siblings, doing chores around the house and farm, and when they got married and had families of their own, the basic pattern continued. It was a hard life, but when they looked back at where their parents came from, this life that they had in America was a dream. Cal Thomas sums up my grandparents’ beliefs when he writes, “Basically it, [the American Dream], has meant building a life based on the foundational principles that created and have sustained America for more than 200 years” (568). This work ethic is what has made America strong. Mitt Romney, GOP presidential candidate, in his acceptance speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention, said, “We are a Nation of Immigrants,” and he is certainly correct. My greatgrandparents shared that old story of immigrants coming to Ellis Island, seeing the Statue of Liberty, and crying because they had a chance at a better life, with freedoms and opportunities they could never have achieved from where they had come. And for them, this hope, this belief that in this wondrous new land they could prosper and pass on to their children and their children’s children a future with amazing possibilities sustained them, and they passed that hope and belief on to their children. My paternal great-grandmother was born in Austria, and my paternal great-grandfather was born in a country, Bohemia, that was swallowed up as part of Czechoslovakia in the 1920s and now is a territory of the Czech Republic. It was a very troubled area, and my greatgrandparents’ only chance for their family to survive, let alone prosper, was to come to America. They brought with them a rich culture, language, and customs that, along with 22

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TOP: Rusell Chun: Collage BOTTOM: Glen Williams: Genesis



Becky Kortan: Answering Opportunity’s Knock others like them, have helped shape the America of today. It was not about money, of which they had very little, but about hope. In a recent speech, Ted Cruz, Republican Senate Candidate from Texas, spoke about his father, imprisoned and tortured in Cuba, who “came to America with $100.00 in his underwear, worked for $.50 a day, and saved for college and to start a small business” (Cruz). I can claim a similar pride. My father exemplified the work ethic passed on to him by his grandparents. He took over the family farm, upon which his parents owed more than they owned, and with years of hard work, taking other jobs he could find, he was able to pay off the debts, and own the farm outright. When World War II began, he enlisted in the Air Force as a mechanic. Although that was a very traumatic time for him, and one that changed him profoundly, he maintained a great respect for the United States and was a true patriot until the day he died. After WW II, making the most of the opportunities that came his way, my father was able to go into business for himself, owning a service station using money from his GI bill. This quote from Marco Rubio (R-Florida), “America is the story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” could have been said with my father in mind. While in high school, I saw and had to deal with many peer situations based on the subject of “inherited class” (Krugman 591). Being a farm kid put me in a much lower social class than others whose parents, for example, owned successful businesses in town, and those students took delight in letting me, and others like me, know just where we stood on the social ladder. Inherited class determined where one could eat lunch, what clubs one could join, what friends one could hang out with, and what section of the bleachers one could sit in for the football games. We of the lower class were never sure if it was because the upper-class students were so much smarter than we were, or if it was just daddy’s money that got them where they were. They, of course, would say it was the former. Although I grew up not being able to have the same things many of my peers did, such as store-bought clothes, fancy shoes or spending money, I did not have to do the same kind of physical labor as my parents or grandparents. Town life for me may have been different than farm life for them, but the work ethic they held dear, demonstrated throughout their own lives and passed on from generation to generation, was evident in my life as well. My parents could not put me through college any more than they could put themselves through, so in order to further my own education, I had to work during the day and go to college in the evenings. I had a goal, a goal to achieve an education, to learn, to grow and become what I always knew I wanted to be: a teacher. In many 24

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cultures, the teacher is highly respected as one who has knowledge and is able to pass it on. To have a member of their family do that, to be that, would have made my grandparents and great-grandparents very proud. To believe that “We should be able to go as far as our dreams and talents take us” (Rubio), is the idea that keeps Americans going. Robert H. Frank claims that in a study of the one hundred most populous counties in the United States where income inequality has recently grown the fastest, there were also the biggest increases in symptoms of financial stress; these being filings for bankruptcy, higher divorce rates, and long commute times due to having to live in a more economical neighborhood (582). I have mixed feelings about the conclusions drawn from this study. On the one hand, I agree that income is a contributing cause of financial distress, especially in the case of divorce because a major problem couples face involves finances. However, on the other hand, I maintain that this problem is not totally income specific. I have heard it said, “The one with the most toys wins.” When I look at life in America today, this philosophy, although seemingly juvenile, is followed by a great number of people. It is quite possible that Robert H. Frank is correct when he states that “Yes, the rich can now buy bigger mansions and host more expensive parties. But this appears to have made them no happier” (584). If happiness is measured in the amount of things a person has or how much money is in his pocket, it should follow that the upper class would be overflowing with it. This, sadly enough, is not often the case. If the top earners of our country were to only spend all their “extra money” (Frank 582) on “keeping up with the Joneses,” they would be, in my opinion, most miserable. The stress of maintaining all of that stuff -- worrying about what might take it all away from them or to whom they will give it when they die -- would take all the joy out of possessing it. It is widely thought that if people were to win the lottery, all of their troubles would be over, when in fact the opposite has been seen to take place, such as in an episode of the television series Hill Street Blues (MTM). When suddenly infused with unexpected wealth, a police officer who, in the normal reality of life, was a generous, loyal human being, changed and become entirely different. In 1929, when “The Crash” hit and hundreds of Americans lost everything they had, people were throwing themselves off buildings in depression and desperation. This shows how fleeting money and possessions can be. As the Bible states in First Timothy 6:10: “The love of money is the root of all evil” (Amplified Bible), which leads me to perceive that it our attitude about the money and possessions we have, not the items themselves, that produces the problem. The simple, basic, fundamental values held by my great-grandparents, grandparents and my parents puts faith not in money, which is easily lost, or things, which can break AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Becky Kortan: Answering Opportunity’s Knock or get stolen, but in “the potential to work for an honest, secure way of life and save for the future” (King 573). Yes, our country is in debt; yes, unemployment is high; yes, the entitlement beliefs of current generations are draining that potential. I agree with Marco Rubio, US Senator from Florida, who said when addressing the Republican National Convention, “If we are willing to do for our children what our parents did for us, America can again be a place for dreams.” That is an American Dream worth working for.

Works Cited The Amplified Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1965. Print. Cruz, Ted. Republican National Convention, Tampa, FL. 29 Aug. 2012. Speech. Frank, Robert H. “Income Inequality: Too Big To Ignore.” They Say, I Say with Readings. 2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein and Russell Durst. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. 580-84. Print. King, Brandon. “The American Dream: Dead, Alive, or on Hold?” They Say, I Say with Readings. 2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein and Russell Durst. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. 572-8. Print. Krugman, Paul. “Confronting Inequality.” They Say, I Say with Readings. 2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein and Russell Durst. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. 586-603. Print. MTM Enterprises and Fox Television Network, prods. Hill Street Blues. NBC. Los Angeles: 15 Jan. 1981. Television. Romney, Mitt. “Acceptance Speech.” Republican National Convention, Tampa, FL. 30 Aug. 2012. Speech. Rubio, Marco. “Mitt Romney Introduction Speech.” Republican National Convention,Tampa, FL, 30 Aug. 2012. Speech. Thomas, Cal. “Is The American Dream Over?” They Say, I Say with Readings. 2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein and Russell Durst. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. 568-70. Print.


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TOP: David Gilkey: Golden Section Collage BOTTOM: Gary Rodriguez: Candy Cloud Razors



Sara Morgan Sick: The Disparity of Health Care in America Early one July morning, in the hours before dawn, the people of the village began to gather. Some came from neighboring villages, having traveled all night to get there. They huddled with their families under blankets, against the morning chill and the light rain that had been falling steadily. Hundreds gathered, and then hundreds more. The rain continued to fall, but no one left; in a few short hours would be the only opportunity in over a year for most of them to receive medical or dental care. When the doctors, nurses, and dentists from Remote Area Medical arrived, they set up makeshift exam rooms in tents and in the stalls of an old barn. Over the next two days, they would treat over 800 patients; but that meant that over 200 more would be turned away. It couldn’t be helped; the time and resources of the all-volunteer staff was limited. While this might sound like a scene from Uganda, or some other Third World country, this was actually happening in a town called Kingsport, Tennessee, Cook County, U.S.A, in 2007. Witnessing this scene was a man named Wendell Potter, which was significant for two reasons. One, this was Potter’s hometown, though he hadn’t been there in many years. And secondly, because he’d been living in Washington, D.C., where he was a Big-Deal-Harry Public Relations VP at one of the nation’s largest insurance companies, Cigna. He’d gone to the fairgrounds to find out why the annual “health fair” was so well attended, but he was shocked and sobered by the scene he witnessed (Potter 78-80). When Potter returned to D.C., one of his duties was to help manage a firestorm of media attention over the case of 18-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan. Nataline needed a liver transplant, but Cigna had deemed the procedure “experimental” and denied coverage. The public outcry caused Cigna to reverse that decision, but by the time the procedure was approved, Nataline died (Girion ). This caused a crisis of conscience that took Potter completely by surprise, and he not only resigned his position with Cigna, but he went on to testify before the Senate, made the rounds of the major talk shows, and wrote a book called Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out On How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans. He has made it his life’s mission to correct the public misperceptions, deliberately created by the insurance industry that has created and maintained such fierce opposition to overhauling the health care system. If you believe that efforts to reform health care amount to a “government takeover” 28

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that will lead to “socialized medicine” and “death panels,” then Wendell and his fellow PR flacks did their jobs well…and he wants you to know that he’s truly sorry. Those stories, the “spin”, are simply not true. Testifying before the U.S. Senate in 2009, Potter said, “…Insurance companies make promises they have no intention of keeping…flout regulations designed to protect consumers, and make it nearly impossible to understand – or even obtain – information needed by consumers” (Potter 11). In other words, health insurance policies don’t exist to deliver needed care; they are complex, difficultto-decipher financial instruments created for the purpose of generating profit. This profit motive puts the companies at odds with the need to deliver adequate patient care. According to Potter, “The health industry today is dominated by a cartel of large, for-profit corporations. By necessity and by law, the top priority of the officers of these companies is to ‘enhance shareholder value.’ When that’s your top priority, you are motivated more by the obligation to meet Wall Street’s relentless profit expectations than by the obligation to meet the medical needs of your policyholders” (3). Simply put, the priority of a patient and his or her doctor is the best care; but the bottom line for the insurance companies is, well, …the bottom line. The debate around health care reform in the United States has been largely focused on the monetary concerns: the literal costs of coverage and care. But missing from the debate is sustained dialogue about the morality of our system. It creates wealth for a very few – namely, CEOs and shareholders of publicly traded insurance funds – while permitting over twenty thousand preventable deaths each year, and hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies due to medical debt (Potter 3). This does not happen in any other developed country. The United States is alone among first world countries in that we have not made the moral decision to provide one system for everyone. Instead, we have several systems serving different groups and classes of people. Millions fall through the cracks and are unable to obtain insurance or care at all. This is a systemic problem, a tremendous failure of our political system, and a moral outrage. It is widely believed, and often stated, that the United States has the “best health care system in the world.” But empirically, this is not the case; the U.S. falls far short in every measurable aspect: cost, health outcomes, and accessibility. The primary problem is that there is no real health care “system” here; it is a “chaotic collage” of plans, providers, and services (Sered 10). When the World Health Organization ranks the health care systems of various countries, the U.S. is consistently ranked far lower than our European counterparts; in 2000, the United States was ranked number thirty-seven (Shapiro); yet, we spend more than twice as much as any other country (Reid 4). More recently, in 2008, a related study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine ranked the various countries according to the number of preventable deaths that AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Sara Morgan: Sick: The Disparity of Health Care in America resulted from a lack of health care, termed “amenable mortality.” The U.S. ranked last out of the nineteen countries surveyed (Shapiro). Essentially, we are spending far more, with decidedly poorer results. It’s worthwhile, then, to examine the systems of other First World nations where health care is provided for all citizens. Author T.R. Reid traveled the globe to examine health care systems for his book The Healing Of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care. He explains that all of the health care systems offered in other developed countries are offered here – only, to different groups of people. There are four major systems used around the world. For people who are under sixtyfive and employed, their health care is similar to Germany, France, or Japan. This is the Bismarck model: worker and employer share premiums; workers pay a co-pay or percentage (Reid 20). The difference is, in those countries, everyone is covered; if you lose your job, the government pays your premiums. Everyone participates; if you don’t and get sick, you have to pay your back premium, so less than one percent fail to participate (Reid 87). But the other notable difference is that the health insurance funds, though private companies, are non-profit enterprises, which keeps costs contained. But it is a limited solution in the U.S. because employment is not a guarantee of health care; a growing percentage of jobs don’t provide health care benefits, and that puts the companies that do at a competitive disadvantage (Hughes). Those over the age of sixty-five are like citizens of Canada, where the National Health Insurance was modeled on our Medicare program; but while Canada decided to cover everyone, the U.S. only extends this coverage to those sixty-five and over. There are private doctors and hospitals, but only one payer, in the form of regional government funds. A single-payer system keeps costs contained (Reid 20); considerably less is spent on administration, and you can negotiate a serious discount from manufacturers of drugs and medical equipment when you have the purchasing power of an entire nation. Native Americans, military, and vets are similar to Great Britain. This is the Beveridge Model: facilities are government-owned, and doctors are government workers. Patients never get a bill (Reid 20). And the 45 million Americans without health insurance are in the Out-of-Pocket system, like Cambodia, or rural India, or countless other poorer nations (Reid 20). As the name implies, those patients pay out-of-pocket at the time of service. The uninsured suffer consequences, including less preventive care and poorer treatment, and they are billed 30

2013 VC Voices

Gabriel Islas: Ansel Adams Cgarcoal



Sara Morgan: Sick: The Disparity of Health Care in America at a higher rate for services than insurance plans (Sered 12). And of course, there are those pesky preventable deaths. Many are unsympathetic to the plight of the uninsured, insisting that everyone is responsible for their own health and for maintaining coverage. But this ignores the basic economic fact that for millions of low or living-wage workers, health insurance is simply unaffordable. In 2009, the average cost for family coverage was over $13,000 a year, while the annual income for a minimum-wage employee was only $11,500 (Potter 72). Simply put, the cost of coverage is out of reach for low-wage workers. Those who oppose universal coverage, decrying it as “socialized medicine,” fail to realize that ultimately, we all share the costs in any case. Hospitals are required to provide emergency care to everyone, regardless of insurance status. Unpaid care results in higher prices charged to those who do pay, including insurers, and the insurers then pass the costs along in the form of increased premiums (Halvorson xvii). Echoing this idea is Dr. Christopher M. Hughes, who practices intensive care and hospice medicine and leads the Pennsylvania chapter of an organization called Doctors for America, which advocates for universal health coverage for every citizen. To those who object to this notion, he explains that conditions left untreated become worse and cost us more in the long run. True, emergency rooms must stabilize all patients, but this only applies to actual emergency situations, not chronic care management. “There’s the cabbie who recognizes his diabetes and determines to work harder and longer so he can buy insurance...He doesn’t make it and ends up in the ICU with diabetic ketoacidosis. …Patients forgoing care or medicines because they can’t afford them simply shifts the costs from keeping people healthy to our extremely expensive system of ‘rescue care.’” Hughes notes, with irony, “You can take care of a lot of diabetic cabbies for a lot of years for the cost of a stay in the ICU.” While it may seem counterintuitive, it is actually cheaper and more effective in the long run to cover everyone so that all can receive preventive care and chronic disease management. Though health care has come to the forefront of domestic policy debate in recent years, the dialogue over reform in this nation dates back one hundred years. It started with Theodore Roosevelt, who campaigned for President in 1912, promising National Health Insurance. He was defeated. Harry Truman tried in 1945, and John F. Kennedy in 1962 also made an attempt. Medicare and Medicaid were introduced in 1965, offering a 32

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safety net for the very poor and those sixty-five and over. Nixon and Edward Kennedy attempted to introduce a single-payer system in ’71. Other Presidents also tried: Jimmy Carter in ’76, and Bill Clinton in ’93. Finally, in 2010, President Barack Obama managed the passing of the Affordable Care Act (Goodridge). Throughout this historical timeline, efforts to defeat reform can consistently be traced back to those who profit from keeping the system as is. As far back as 1932, the American Medical Association denounced proposed changes as “socialist,” fearing it would cut into profits; and that same buzzword, “socialized medicine,” has become a catch-all for opposition to reform. What is not offered is any moral justification for the suffering, financial devastation, and even deaths of our fellow citizens as a result of these disastrous policies. The fact is, businesses exist to make money. In strictly economic terms, the business owner in the United States who denies health care coverage to his employees in order to remain competitive is actually doing the right thing – financially. Likewise, the insurance companies that deny care in order to increase their bottom line are actually doing what publicly traded companies are supposed to do, which is create wealth for their shareholders. But health care is not just any commodity or any business. It is universally necessary; every single person in this country – and on earth - will, at some point, need medical care of some kind. By persisting in framing the debate in strictly economic terms, we have collectively avoided the issue of morality: is it right, is it just, is it moral to allow so many to die preventable deaths, while a select few become very rich from the money spent on health insurance premiums? And if we did have the political will to make change, what then? What system would we most want to emulate? According to an illuminating series on National Public Radio, France is ranked number one in the world. But many Americans refuse to consider their health care system as a possible model for our own, presuming that because it is in Europe, it must be “socialized medicine.” In fact, the French want choice – but they also believe in social equality, and so in France, everyone has health care. As a result, the French live longer (Shapiro; Reid 50). There is good reason that the French report being highly satisfied with their health care system. “The system is set up both to ensure that patients have lots of choice in picking doctors and specialists and to ensure that doctors are not constrained in making medical decisions” (Shapiro). Simply put, patients have choice and autonomy, and doctors can focus on treatment rather than billing. There are no deductibles, and co-payments AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


are reasonable – and the sickest patients pay no co-payments at all. This level of care is expensive – but while the French system is one of the most costly in the world, it still only amounts to half of the money spent in the United States. However, everyone in France is covered, and in the United States, over forty-five million people have no coverage. Millions more are underinsured, risking financial ruin if they face unexpected illness. Yet the opposition to the Affordable Care Act and the very idea of universal coverage continues, with much of the opposition framed in terms of “freedom.” For example, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, has been working to repeal Obamacare at the state and federal levels. Its stated purpose is to “protect the rights of patients to pay directly for medical services.” Their goal is to have the individual mandate declared unconstitutional, prohibit a “Canadian-style, single payer system” (“About”), and ban a state-level requirement to purchase health insurance. The organization has provided lawmakers with the “Freedom of Choice In Health Care Act” – a model legislation to prohibit penalties for people who do not purchase insurance. But nowhere on the organization’s website are there suggestions on what should be done to stop the tens of thousands of preventable deaths each year caused by lack of health care. Nowhere do they proffer a plan that ensures the health security of any American, never mind all. There is not even civil discourse about the benefits of any aspect of the Affordable Care Act, only the plan to defeat it. There is an arrogant and myopic dismissal of other nations that have successfully implemented health care for all citizens, without a sober examination of the results of those systems: the health outcomes, the rates of longevity, the costs, the satisfaction of both patients and doctors. Certainly, flaws can be found in any system; there is nowhere on earth where everyone is perfectly served or perfectly satisfied at all times with their health care. But if we simply dismiss every alternative, and if we continue the course we are on, many more will suffer, die, or face financial ruin. Businesses will be at a disadvantage to competitors abroad because of health care costs. Costs will continue to soar, and insurance companies will continue to find ways to generate profit at the expense of health and lives. What can be done about it may be endlessly debated, but what is evident is stated bluntly by the title of the book Health Care Will Not Reform Itself. Author George Halvorson asserts that in the United States, “Care costs more per person, more by the unit, more by the dose, more by the disease, and more in the aggregate. We spend far move that anyone else in the world on care, and we are alone among the industrialized 34

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countries in not covering all our people” (xv). No other nation spends more, yet we are the only one that has failed to adopt one system to cover all citizens. It is baffling that the people of this country aren’t alarmed and outraged by this. Essentially, people have been persuaded to act against their own self-interest, by insisting on the status quo in the name of “freedom” and “choice”. Now is the time to stand up, to make noise, to insist loudly and vehemently that we will not stand for it any longer. We must publicly support the Affordable Care Act and continue to agitate lawmakers to prioritize health care as one of the most important domestic issues of our time. Our future and our lives depend on it.

Works Cited “About ALEC’s Freedom of Choice In Health Care Act.” American Legislative Exchange Council, 2012. Web. 8 Dec. 2012. Girion, Lisa. “Cigna stands by decision on transplant.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 25 Dec. 2007. Web. 11 Nov. 2012. Goodridge, Elisabeth and Sarah Arnquist. “A History of Overhauling Health Care.” New York Times. The New York Times Company, 21 Mar. 2010. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. Halvorson, George C. Health Care Will Not Reform Itself: A User’s Guide to Refocusing and Reforming American Health Care. New York: Productivity Press, 2009. Print. Hughes, Christopher M. “Health care for all: Expanding Medicaid would save lives, suffering, and money.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. PG Publishing Co., Inc., 4 Oct. 2012. Web. 29 Oct. 2012. Potter, Wendell. Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out On How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care And Deceiving Americans. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2010. Print. Reid, T.R. The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care. New York: Penguin Group, 2009. Print. Sered, Susan Starr and Rushika Fernandopulle. Uninsured In America: Life and Death in the Land of Opportunity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. Print. Shapiro, Joseph. “Health Care Lessons From France.” National Public Radio. NPR, 11 July 2008. Web. 28 Oct. 2012.



Benjamin Vander Heide Rise of the Machines Fear of robots and artificial intelligence has had a place in American culture ever since computers started to be well known and commonly used. Movies depict robots in an evil light, and novels frequently describe a dystopian future in which robots or artificial intelligences have taken over the world. Today, the fear of robots is as powerful as ever, but the fear is not only of death or destruction—the fear is of job competition. Many Americans, especially low skill manufacturing workers, are afraid their employers will soon replace them with robots. Robots will be our checkout clerks, our warehouse employees, our automobile assembly workers, and will fill myriad other occupations now held by humans, or so the sentiment is held. These fears are not unfounded. There are many reasons that companies find it desirable to automate, and while not everyone will lose jobs to automation, many will, and many more will have to change their skill set. The ever increasing growth in technological advancement will result in a complicated relationship between human and automated labor, and will ultimately reduce the number of human labor roles in society. For all of the powerful advantages that automation can offer, there are still times when automation doesn’t make fiscal or logistical sense. Certain tasks require human hands to complete, and in some cases it would be far more expensive to automate a task than to employ human laborers. Starovasnik claims that manufacturing plants that are in rural areas “can often draw on a sizable population of capable individuals at relatively low wages” (3). In such cases where the human labor is so inexpensive, to automate the manufacturing factory would not yield fiscally desirable results. It is, for the moment, cheaper to employ the human workers. Companies can also capitalize on low skill, low pay segments of the population to complete routine tasks. A drugstore chain has found that by employing persons who are developmentally disabled, they are able to reduce the costs of introducing an automated system while paying the human workers a low wage for unskilled labor, thus saving the company money and capital risk. While doing this, the company was able to generate public goodwill by employing these developmentally challenged individuals (Starovasnik 3). In this case, the company obviously made a choice that led to results superior to those automation would have. In addition to the times when it is not fiscally viable to automate, there are times when automation is simply impossible. “Variability is the bane of automation” (Starovasnik 3). Tasks which change on a constant basis cannot be performed by machines that are available right now. If a packing process requires the packager to assess the various qualities of an item before packing it, it is very difficult to program a robot to accomplish this. In most cases, it is more cost effective to simply hire a human that has the innate ability 36

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Linda Kennon: Ultra 20 3D



Benjamin Vander Heide: Rise of the Machines to assess these traits than to spend millions of dollars building and programming (and reprogramming) a robot to do the same task. Given the limitations of robots and that robots are still fairly expensive to produce and maintain, there are still many situations in which automation does not make sense, but those situations are quickly disappearing. There are now several tasks that have been successfully automated that could not have been only a few years ago, and what has been automated is quite surprising. Society is always progressing, and a part of societal progress is technological progress. It is well known that technology grows at an exponential rate; technology builds upon new technology to create more new technology, a cycle that repeats ad infinitum. Despite this knowledge, the advancements that have been made in recent years are impressive and surprising. Driving is one of the most complicated tasks that an average person does on a regular basis, and it once seemed that there were so many variables to driving that robots were nowhere near capable of taking over this process (Brown 25). However, Google has now automated driving with its human free cars. These cars have already driven over 140,000 miles with very little human interference (Brown 25). Jobs that used to be completed by humans are now completed by computers. When a person checks in for a flight, a lot of processes are taking place. Brown explains the incredible complexity of checking in for a flight at the airport: The moment the card goes in, you are starting a huge conversation conducted entirely among machines. Once your name is recognized, computers are checking your flight status with the airlines, your past travel history, your name with the Transportation Security Agency (and possibly also with the National Security Agency). They are checking your seat choice, your frequent-flier status, and your access to lounges. (24) In the past, this would have required an effort on the part of several humans. It is now completed in seconds, more accurately, by a single computer that is connected to the internet. Manufacturing is also advancing in automation by leaps and bounds. A company in Japan called FANUC that manufactures robots has so successfully started automation that their plant can now run completely without human supervision or intervention for several weeks at a time. Currently, most automation processes still require human supervision or interference for some tasks; that FANUC can run entirely without humans for a period of time is an incredible step forward in automation (“Making the Future�). Although the aforementioned advances in automation are impressive, they are but a glimpse of what is to come in the future. 38

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In the immediate future, humans will be almost entirely replaced by robots and computers for most menial tasks. Particularly, manufacturing jobs held by humans will quickly disappear. A technology that already exists, 3D printing, will advance to the point where 3D printers can manufacture almost anything with almost any material (“Making the Future”). The next step in 3D printing is to connect multiple 3D printers on an assembly line, literally replacing the humans one for one with a machine (“Making the Future”). This would save the company that undertakes this process millions of dollars in long term compensation costs. 3D printers would also be more efficient than humans and require no breaks or meals, need no health care, take no sick days, and offer a variety of other benefits that robots can provide. Another undertaking in robotics is the development of robots that can be used along with humans. Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute is developing robots that can work side by side with humans in a manufacturing plant, a feat that has not yet been achieved (“Making the Future”). Although the advent of robots working alongside of humans is an impressive advancement, the future lies in replacing humans altogether. A firm called Industrial Perception, Inc. is working to develop robots that are much more efficient than humans. A human can pick up and move a heavy box at a rate of 1 every 6 seconds. Industrial Perception will win a contract for its robots if its robots can move 1 box every 4 seconds, but they believe that their robots will move 1 box every second (Markoff 3). The incredible efficiency gains are obvious and the compensation savings are astounding. In fact, automated systems, when applied to the proper situations, are superior to human labor in almost every way. Nothing is done without purpose, especially in business. If automating was not cost effective, no businesses would do it. Humans are complicated creatures that have a plethora of needs-- breaks, health care, sleep, compensation, and many other forms of care. Humans can only do so much for only so long. Robots and automated systems have none of these needs. The only needs a robot has are maintenance and repair. Robots can work 365 days per year without sleep or breaks (Markoff 1). Markoff describes a plant in The Netherlands owned by Philips Electronics that is highly automated. The plant in The Netherlands has a sister plant in China, and both produce the same product. The plant in The Netherlands is so highly automated that it employs one tenth the number of workers that the Chinese plant employs (Markoff 1). The ability of these robots to work without human needs saves the company millions of dollars in compensation. Many look to automation like this as the path for manufacturing competitiveness for industrialized nations. The Obama administration acknowledges that the only way America will stay competitive in manufacturing is through automation. Tom Kalil, the deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, states that AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Benjamin Vander Heide: Rise of the Machines “The only way we are going to maintain manufacturing in the U.S. is if we have higher productivity” (qtd. in Markoff 2). His claim is that automation is so effective that it can actually be more fiscally sensible to automate than to outsource jobs to low labor cost countries like China. Markoff gives an example of these savings when he describes a particular firm’s situation. This firm spent $250,000 dollars to install a robotic system that replaced two machine operations. Each of these operators made $50,000 dollars per year. After 15 years, the company had made $3,500,000 in compensation savings and through efficiency upgrades. These kinds of returns are highly desirable, and because of outcomes like this, automation will continue. The savings corporations enjoy will only increase as the cost of automated systems continues to fall. Mike Dennison, an executive at a company that manufactures electronic products, alleges that “There’s always a price point, and we’re very close to that point” (qtd. in Markoff 2). As costs continue to fall, automation will become more and more prevalent. Although automation is often the preferable choice, it does not entirely destroy the role of humans; it just changes it significantly. As the world changes, humans’ roles in the world also change. One of the last great revolutions in the workforce was the widespread use of the PC. It seemed at the time that the PC could replace many workers, but that did not happen. Rodney Brooks, the co-founder of iRobots, explains that “the PC didn’t get rid of office workers, it changed the tasks they did” (qtd. in “Making the Future”). The same trend will apply as automation takes hold in all aspects of society. Markoff relates the details of a warehouse in which a computer called “The Brain” dictates the work to be done by the employees and controls the speed and all other aspects of the workers’ jobs (Markoff 3). The computers did not totally replace the human laborers, but the computer now works with the humans to improve the overall capabilities of the warehouse. Automation will also benefit the labor market because it will create new, automation related jobs. Humans will be needed to actually put the automated systems into place. Humans must also repair and maintain the automated systems. These new labor roles will generate millions of jobs in the future and change the role of humans from laborers to labor controllers and supervisors (Markoff 3). Currently, systems are most efficient when people work in tandem with computers and robots. In tests where humans played against computers in chess matches, the best chess players were not humans or computers, but teams of people working with computers. These teams were able to defeat both humans and computers in the game of chess (Brown). People will continue to integrate more with technology and our efficiency will only improve as various tasks employ the combined efforts of humans and machines. Some people argue that this, along with non-human automation, will actually improve the job outlook in the future. 40

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Thomas B. Larsen: Heavy Metal 3D



Benjamin Vander Heide: Rise of the Machines In his article “Technology and Automation Create Jobs,” Jeff Burnstein argues that automation actually improves the job situation rather than detracting from it. He cites an example of Marlin Steel Wire where the company successfully uses automation to create jobs by improving its efficiency and becoming competitive with low labor cost countries. His position is that this company would not be able to employ its workers if it were not for its automation. Burnstein also refers to General Motors and its Buick LaCrosse factories that employ more than 1100 robots. GM is currently hiring to expand its workforce, something they could not do without their automated systems. Burnstein concludes his article with a reference to an old General Electric Philosophy: There was a saying popular at General Electric in the ‘80s that American Industry needed to “automate, emigrate, or evaporate”. In the ensuing decades, we’ve lost too many jobs to emigration and evaporation. I hope more companies will choose to automate before it’s too late. Andrew McAfee agrees with Burnstein in his TED talk “Are Droids Taking Our Jobs?” McAfee believes that although automation will reduce the number of human labor roles, it will ultimately lead to a better and utopian future. McAfee asserts that “I am very confident what we’re going to do is reduce poverty and drudgery and misery around the world” (McAfee). McAfee’s outlook on the future and automation is bright, and he believes that automation and technological advancement will save the future instead of destroying it. Automation will continue to play a huge role in the future of our workforce. It will eliminate some jobs, create some jobs, but most importantly, it will change the nature of many jobs, just as the PC did. It is vital that as a society we embrace this change and work with it to our benefit. Automation is inevitable, and it is essential that as a society, we learn to embrace and optimize automation in order to evolve into the next phase of human civilization.

Works Cited Brown, Alan S. “Automation Vs. Jobs. (Cover Story).” Mechanical Engineering 134.4 (2012): 22-27. Business Source Elite. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. Burnstein, Jeff. “Technology and Automation Create Jobs.” Unemployment. Ed. David Haugen and Susan Musser. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2011. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. From “Robots Can Create Jobs, Too.” Robotic Industries Association, 2010. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 19 Nov. 2012.


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“Making the Future.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 21 Apr. 2012. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. Markoff, John. “THE IECONOMY; Skilled Work, Without the Worker.” The New York Times, 19 Aug. 2012. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. McAfee, Andrew. “Andrew McAfee: Are Droids Taking Our Jobs?” TED: Ideas worth Spreading. TED Conferences, Sept. 2012. Lecture. 12 Nov. 2012. Starovasnik, Dean M. “Know The Automation Situation.” Industrial Engineer: IE 44.2 (2012): 4448. Business Source Elite. Web. 19 Nov. 2012.

Penny Hill: Sherlock Pony



Tommi Voutis The Truth Will Set You Free I never knew my father; he was like some mythical creature from the fantasy and sci-fi novels I love to read. That is, until my fourteenth birthday. I had heard stories about his crazy antics and harsh tongue—not harsh in a demeaning or necessarily disrespectful way, but more a steel wool sort of way. A way that could scuff off any outer shell or armor from a person leaving them completely bare to the truths sometimes best left alone. Despite all these stories, I had never experienced such things first hand. I desperately wanted to. I will never forget the day I finally got the chance to meet this man. It is reminiscent of some drug-addicted artist’s acid etchings, forever carved into the bronze plates of my mind. The stories I had listened to all my life were obviously understated. This man was more than just a “never tell a lie regardless of who it might hurt” type of guy; this man was completely insane! Not only was he brash and vulgar, but his utter lack of an ‘inside’ voice was a thing that legends are made of, and him using his ‘outside’ voice was an almost surefire way of having the neighbors call in a noise disturbance, which might ultimately end in some sort of epic battle with the local law enforcement. A transient by choice, he had a somewhat serious cocaine problem that he put on an almost boastful display, announced to the world by an oh-so-long pinky nail. “It’s for picking my nose,” he says, “it’s the only finger that I can fit up there,” and gives me a demonstration, booger eating included. I couldn’t help but allude to the fact that I was not some half-wit and that I knew very well what he did with that finger. My sister and I roll our eyes as we exchange exasperated glances. My mind reeled. I was fully convinced he would have fit right in to one of the books I adore so much. I envisioned him as an ogre or troll, swaggering and grunting whilst carrying around a large cudgel or some similar instrument of brutality—almost certainly something with sharp metal protrusions for ensuring the proper bashing and cracking of skulls—picking his nose the entire time. How the hell could I possibly be related to this awful caricature of every girl I’ve ever known’s father? Why did I have to be stuck with this narcotic consuming bloated Santa Claus of a man? It all felt like some sort of sick cosmic joke and everyone was laughing. And then it hit me, as we sat and watched Pulp Fiction, eating popcorn and pizza and idly conversing: he was not the joke I had chalked him up to be. He was altogether the exact opposite of a joke. Under all the coarseness was a man; a man that was honest to a fault, even when screwing someone over. No more, no less. Not some distorted facsimile of humankind with the ending to it all being some obscure unicorn reference 44

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hinting at the eternal life of Replicants—this wasn’t some fictional being from one of my novels as previously assumed. However, I was far from disappointed with the hand I had been dealt, as this man would teach me one of the most important and undeniable truths of life, of my life, thus far—a truth that I would not be able to fully understand for years to come, and what a bitter few years they were. I was jaded and angry that he would just leave and not make good on his promises to contact me in any way; that he could leave his daughter after getting to know her. We had both experienced what we had missed out on and thoroughly enjoyed each other and ourselves as people who could find common ground despite vast differences. It was a relationship that could have helped us both—me through the rough seas of high school and young adulthood, and him out of the depths of despair and self-doubt into light and love. But he just left, and I hated him for it. I retreated, deeply wounded, into the recesses of my own mind and shunned the forging of friendships and bonds with others. Like him, they would only hurt me, and I would never again let that happen. The fated day came when I would get a phone call from him. He was crying. He sounded so scared, so lonely, so earnest. I was reticent to believe any of these emotions from him; this was the man who had made me feel so unwanted for far too many years. I suppose I never really had a choice though. It’s difficult for most not to stop and stare at a grisly train wreck: wrenched, twisted, burning metal mingled with blaring sirens then mixed with the acrid fumes of combusted fuel and flesh—sometimes it’s damn impossible to look away—so I did exactly what the monster inside me was telling me not to do, I listened. He had just finished serving three years on a five year sentence, he was sober, and he was at the step in A.A. where the participant has to go around and apologize to all the people they have wronged. I almost hung up; I almost threw up. The nerve, the outrage! The… courage? It was like being slapped in the face; yet again he had changed the way I thought of him for the better. Just how much had he talked himself out of and around actually hitting the call button on the phone after putting my number in, just how much had he danced around making this call in particular? My guess is quite a bit. I suppose that was confirmed by the tone in his voice and the delivery of one of the most sincere apologies I’ve ever received. He was hurting, as much or more than I was; it was the keen edge of a freshly honed knife at his throat and it was a pain he had felt every day since the day my mother gave birth to my sister and me. He said he loved me more than anything and that the regret he felt for not pursuing a relationship with my twin and me was almost too much to bear. For me to hear this, it was unbearable. AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Tommi Voutis: The Truth Will Set You Free We talked for hours upon hours, and then we talked more, and my house of precariously balanced cards came crashing down around my ears. I loved this man. I loved him for having a trait that is rarely found in abundance, if at all, in most people: honesty. This asshole that gave not two shits for anyone but himself was the most honest person I had ever met. He was unashamed of who he was and the decisions he had made throughout his life, and though filled with regret for lost time with his children would not change those decisions if given the chance to do things differently, completely unafraid of admitting a mistake despite his tendency to always be right “because I said so.” I have yet to meet another person like my father, and while he didn’t earn any of the rights that come with fatherhood, he had redeemed himself for a moment, a heartbeat. This man who had caused so much resentment in me—resentment for him and for everyone and everything—had somehow shown me how to forgive, to accept, and even to appreciate the flaws that come standard with the latest and greatest version of the human condition. His flaws were greater than most, and forgiving him his transgressions was a heavy task, which ultimately lead to a lighter heart. Oh! Sweet irony! The resulting friendship is one that I have never regretted forming, and I was more like him than I had ever imagined: the sardonic sense of humor, the lack of fucks given for people who are chronically unappeasable, but most importantly the inability to lie for any reason other than maybe that the zombie apocalypse is near and we’re all going to die, but most likely not even then—if you can’t handle the truth, well, that’s not my problem, but the zombies will probably get you first. Our camaraderie would continue to grow for years to come; he had proven himself an admirable man for reasons that most wouldn’t consider to be legitimate. Always with a readiness to laugh, his verbal diarrhea allowed for only the highest quality of dirty jokes, and his intelligence was something to be reckoned with. Even after everything he had already taught me during our brief rapport, he still had one last thing to impart before leaving me again, before leaving this world for good. Something one usually refuses to acknowledge until the truth of it is shoved in their face and the vileness of all things human are exposed. In the end, after all was said and done, my eyes were forcibly pried open by the last person I ever expected such revelations from. It became apparent, blatant even, that everyone is bruised and broken in some way; that every single person I will ever meet will let me down at some point, and there isn’t a goddamn thing I can do about it—that was okay... it had to be. “The only person you can rely on is yourself. You alone govern your life as you see fit, 46

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and screw anyone who thinks you should do anything different or be anything different than what you feel is right, for yourself.” Why? “Because I said so.” Regardless, the weight of life is easier borne together than alone, and all connections, no matter how brief, are worth fighting for. Love and togetherness truly are two of the most fundamental essences of life; without them, we can never be more than our own narrow minds allow. The sadness of his swan song is still fresh upon my heart. I see him for the last time, after being turned to dust—as all things eventually shall be, and. I can never properly thank him for the ride of a lifetime, it was short and bittersweet, but the best things in life usually are.

Michael Sanchez: Gentle Giant



Anoothi Seth Simpler Times Behind the Barber Ford dealership in Ventura is a small neighborhood made up of half a dozen apartment complexes. Each complex is compact and spaced far too closely to the next. If it were not for the separate color schemes of each set, they could almost blend into one. In the middle of all of these dilapidated complexes is one that is packed in more closely than the rest. Unit number 645, on the first floor of this cramped complex, is where I grew up. Upon my return after more than five years, everything that has changed as well as all that has stayed the same brings back memories of a carefree childhood. As I have grown, life has become increasingly complicated and this place from the past answers a longing for those simpler times. Suddenly, I am seven years younger and stand in the street with friends outside unit 645. Pale yellow fences with even paler blue trimmings surround the minuscule front porches of each unit and effectively conceal doors and windows. Paint at the corners of these dull fences has begun to chip, revealing an undercoat of discolored white paint, suggesting that the landlord meagerly covered an older tasteless paint job with a slightly newer tasteless paint job. Outside the fences, there is not a small patch of grass or even a floral arrangement in wood chips but, instead, a pit of rocks. Bordering this pit are large dark-brown logs that appear aged and soft placed here in vain to ensure the rocks remain inside the pit. Despite the ugliness of these rocks, there is one in each shade of every color imaginable including blues, pinks, purples, yellows, reds, greens, whites, and black. My friends and I walk over to the pit and search for what we call “chalk rocks.” Some of the rocks in the pit are soft, with a powdery texture; when scraped across the sidewalk, they leave behind a streak of soft color, hence “chalk rock.” The chalk rocks are pastel as opposed to the vivid colors of the other rocks. After finding a handful each of chalk rocks, we begin to doodle aimlessly on the sidewalk; we draw hearts, flowers, butterflies, and play hopscotch. As we draw and play, the aroma of my mother’s cooking, mingled with that of the neighbors’ cooking, drifts through the air, smelling of my mother’s assortment of rich Indian spices and the neighbors’ warm Mexican chilies. The air is crisp and the weather is pleasant. The sun beats down on the neighborhood, and a slight breeze evaporates the sweat that beads on our foreheads, cooling us to some extent. The warm weather and the weekend mall traffic create a perfect day to sell snow cones. We run inside and bring out our set-up. We have a folding table and a poster made of lined paper taped together that reads, “snow cones $1,” along with my blue and white snow cone maker connected to an extension cord snaked through the kitchen window and over the pale 48

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yellow fence. The ice is in a small cooler on top of which is arranged an assortment of flavors: bubble gum, watermelon, cotton candy, lime, and cherry. On the folding table is a small purple pencil box, serving as the cash register. I make a snow cone for each of us while we await customers, blending flavors to create new ones. Back to the present, I observe that the pit of rocks has been replaced by flowering plants surrounded by wood chips and feel a surprise twinge of sadness that it is gone. The insipid yellow and blue fence has also changed, painted over with even paler red, and mildly less pale red trimmings. I search for my old neighbor’s car, distinctive because of its appearance. In the past, the large Volkswagen van resembled a Franken-car, all of the body parts a different color. And most distinctive was the roof. Painted with red and white stripes and a blue corner filled with white stars, it was a declaration of the owner’s patriotism. The van was distinctive and easily spotted among other cars, yet now it was difficult to locate. About to decide that he has moved, I notice a similar van, large and box-like; however, this van is not composed of mismatched body parts and does not have a flag on the roof. It is uniform in color, a pale blue-gray. Somehow it must be his, and perhaps he has finally finished remodeling it. But more than the color scheme, landscaping, and transportation are different-- so are the people. There are new children who play hopscotch and draw on the sidewalk with actual chalk. Unlike most children of their generation, they are not hidden in their homes watching television, playing video games, or surfing the internet. These children live in this dilapidated old neighborhood, which must mean their families cannot afford all of the modern technology, just as my family could not when we lived here. Seeing these children away from a computer, television, or cell phone screen sparks hope that they may be active and creative. It inspires optimism about the next generation. The air still carries the aroma of home cooked meals; I smell warm Mexican chilies without the assortment of Indian spices. The faded gray street cracks in all of the same places; the cracks create a map of lines, traveling like streets, back and forth from each end of the neighborhood. I recognize the place where my older brother kicked out his friend’s tooth. They had been playing soccer in the street, and by some strange circumstances my brother’s foot connected with his friend’s jaw and knocked out a tooth in the process. The sounds of gasps and exclamations, along with the boy’s cries, ring through my ears as I stand in the middle of the street, remembering. As I walk to the alley behind the complex, the children stare at me quizzically. The narrow alley is lined by small, detached one-car garages for each complex. Next to the one parking space allotted for my complex are two dumpsters, large and pastel green, with useless black lids. The paint is stained by years of garbage, and the lid is propped open by overflowing AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Anoothi Seth: Simpler Times black bags spilling out of the dumpster, a clear indication that trash day must be soon. Flies buzz around the open lid and land on the black bags and crusted-on waste while a trail of ants marches on a path that travels from a crack in the ground, up the side of the dumpster, and inside to some unseen food source deep within the mass of black bags. Ducking under an overgrown tree slightly to the left of the dumpsters, I emerge in a secluded field, having remembered a small area where I used to play. The patch of ground is no more than ten feet wide and thirty feet long. It is hidden from the sidewalk by a wall of bushes, and from the alley by the overgrown tree, precisely as it was seven years ago. The grass is surprisingly lush and green considering the dead yellow state of most of the grass in the neighborhood. As I walk around the perimeter, looking for any indication that the new children have discovered the secret place, memories of dividing the small field into imaginary rooms to play house, or hiding in the surrounding bushes, flow through me. Satisfied that there are no signs of trespassing, I exit the field through an almost invisible gap between two bushes that leads back to the street. Walking past the children on the way back to the car brings to mind that my passage through the bushes a moment ago has probably revealed the location of the secret site; however, that fact does not disappoint as perhaps it should. Having been the place of my childhood, this otherwise ordinary neighborhood with its pale fences, cracked streets, now-missing rock pits, and pungent dumpsters will always be significant to me. It is a testament to the less complicated lives of children and a reminder of a carefree past. However, I have moved on. It is not the place so much as the simplicity and the memories that I miss: memories of playing house, drawing with chalk rocks, and selling snow cones, and the simplicity of home cooked meals, low-tech devices, and secluded fields.


2013 VC Voices

Kristina Matthews Lopez: TrapnSuccessful



Rebecca Malan Nursing: Not for the Weak of Heart Nursing is one of the most popular careers nowadays, but it is also one of the most difficult. Why is that? Why are we drawn to something we know is going to be timeconsuming and grueling? Are all nurses masochists or is there a higher calling that beckons hordes of people to such a noble profession? It is inevitable that becoming a nurse means having to deal with death and despair first hand, but that doesn’t stop hundreds of thousands of people out there and it won’t stop me because, like many others, this is my calling, a public service I am drawn to. The nursing profession has its pitfalls, but for every negative there is about nursing, there are twice as many positives, thus making nursing the ideal career. For me, nursing seemed like the logical career to choose. First and foremost, I enjoy taking care of people, which I think is a basic quality any nurse should possess, but not the only one. I have always been interested in the medical field. When I was a child, I sustained an injury to my leg that required stitches. My mother kept trying to block my view as I craned my neck to see the doctor operating. Later, when my mom asked why I was looking, I said, “I wanted to see what the inside of a leg looks like.” It was at that moment that my mother knew I was going to be a nurse. I also have a very strong constitution when it comes to unappealing things. Generally, I don’t get sick when dealing with urine, feces, and other bodily fluids. I have always been good at detaching myself from my emotions and focusing on the task at hand when it is necessary. This ability enables me to stay calm in stressful and chaotic situations, which will come in handy when I am a nurse. Ultimately, a multitude of reasons contributed to my choice to be a nurse, but I know with the skills I have and the skills I will attain in nursing school, success will be on my path. To say the nursing program has its difficulties is an understatement. The LA Times reported that “the attrition rate of nursing students at Cuesta Community College in San Luis Obispo has increased from 3% to 40%” (Leovy). Unfortunately, this staggering statistic is not uncommon for most nursing schools; some schools even experience fifty to sixty percent dropout rates. I would like to think that these high dropout rates are attributed to the intensity of nursing school, but the field of nursing is demanding so it makes sense that nursing school is rigorous. I did not know what I was getting into when I chose nursing as my major. Like any young girl, I lacked focus and drive when it came to my future. I enrolled full time in fairly difficult classes and I buckled under the pressure. I failed all my classes, including anatomy. After that semester I felt defeated, so I took the summer to do some serious thinking about my future. Eventually I decided 52

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to retake my classes in the fall; however, this time I only enrolled part-time. I started the fall semester with a renewed attitude and steady focus. That semester, to my astonishment, I pulled straight A’s across the board, which was something I had never done before. It ignited a passion in me I never knew I had. The point I’m trying to make is that the road to nursing school is tough, which I have experienced firsthand, and once you get into nursing it’s even tougher. In a career where the tiniest mistake could threaten someone’s life, you have to be tough and you have to be prepared. I’m already anticipating the long hours, unrealistic expectations, and tough professors in nursing school and pretty much throughout my nursing career. However, if it’s anything like what I’ve experienced up until now, I know I have the strength and focus to persevere. Like any realistic person, I try to learn from my mistakes, which is my plan to minimize the negatives during nursing school. I already know it is going to be hard, but by using the knowledge I’ve acquired from my mistakes, I have a better chance of success. First off, I think in times of high stress it is important to take time for yourself, even just a small activity to help clear your head. In the past, when I felt overwhelmed, it was because I spread myself too thin and didn’t take time for myself. It is amazing how much good taking a walk or doing 20 minutes of yoga can do for my stress level. Also, having a good support system will help me deal with the negatives of nursing school. I’m lucky to have family and friends who have always encouraged me in my career path, which I think will also help me cope with the stress of nursing school. In my opinion, organization and time management are the main keys to success. My mother always told me “a cluttered space causes a cluttered mind” and I believe, wholeheartedly, that organization will lower stress levels which can help me focus better. Good time management is also instrumental to success. In nursing school it is easy to get behind, but if I manage my time correctly, I will not feel overwhelmed with an overload of daunting tests and assignments. I use all of these examples of success because they were all things I overlooked in the past which eventually contributed to my failure; learning from my past can set me up for success in the future. Nursing is a field in which mistakes can equal deaths, so it makes sense for the training to be extensive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that nursing programs require students to have taken courses “in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology and other social and behavioral sciences” (United States). These courses are necessary because they form a good foundation of knowledge for nursing school. All of the courses required for admission to nursing school are extremely tough classes. This is necessary because these tough courses help prepare you for the level of work that is expected in nursing school. In all nursing programs, students work rotations on a variety AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Rebecca Malan: Nursing: Not for the Weak of Heart of floors of hospitals so they can gain real world skills. During clinical rotation, nursing students experience hospital departments such as cardiology, psychiatry, surgery, and pediatrics. Since nursing is as much of an art as it is a science, it does take skills that can’t necessarily be learned from a book. In nursing one needs to be good at making decisions and judgments; a lot of nursing is weighing a situation for costs and benefits and coming to a clear and concise conclusion. Social perceptiveness is being aware of others’ actions and reactions to certain situations. This ability can be one of the most valuable in nursing because it can help a nurse to assess a situation and ensure safety. Finally, critical thinking is a skill that will not only enable success in nursing school but also in life; logic and analysis is crucial when it comes to the treatment of injuries. All in all, nursing requires both knowledge and skills acquired in school and on the job. Since I’m the first person in my family to go to college, receiving a college degree is a large benefit of a nursing career. Watching my mother and father work long, grueling hours for low pay was definitely motivation to get a college degree, so that I could one day support myself and my family. The job stability would be another benefit of being a nurse, especially in this economy. Being able to find a well-paying job in any location is definitely a blessing. The salary is another benefit of being a nurse: “The annual salary of a registered nurse was $64,590 in May 2010” as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (United States). This means that nurses make roughly $30 an hour; this is very beneficial because it provides stability not only for me, but for my future family. Nursing is a vast field; it is the type of career that changes with you. When I first become a nurse I would like a hospital job that will keep me on my feet and active, but as I grow older I can choose to take less active nursing jobs such as in teaching or administration. Being a nurse is also very beneficial if you have a family. Having knowledge of health and the body, access to doctors, and flexible hours are all things that will only help in raising a child. Overall, nursing has many benefits and is a flexible job that can fit most lifestyles, and that is why it is such a popular and ideal job. Nursing is a tough career. Getting into nursing school is hard, a nursing job is hard, the skills needed for nursing are hard and the personal struggles you may encounter along the way may be hard; despite all of this, I and thousands of others are drawn to a nursing career as to a beacon of light at the end of a tunnel. For me, the benefits of nursing definitely outweigh the negatives. By becoming a nurse I give myself a future, my family stability, and people I don’t even know a fighting chance. There is a possibility that I will fall flat on my face and won’t become a nurse, but much like Dr. Gawande performing a central line insertion for the first time (4), I’ll never know if I’m any good at it unless I try.


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Works Cited Gawande, Atul. “The Central Line.” Readings in Healthcare. Ed. Deborah Pollack. Ventura, CA: VC Canon, 2008, 4-8. Print. Leovey, Jill. “Dropout, Failure Rates in Nursing Programs Soar.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 23 Nov. 1999. Web. 05 Feb. 2013. United States. Bureau of Labor Statistics. How to Become a Registered Nurse. BLS, 29 Mar. 2012. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.---. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pay. BLS, 29, Mar. 2012. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.

Ashley Villavicencio: Bottle Abstract



Daniel McGunigale A Missed Opportunity to Fix Politics Dear New York Times, You published an article on August 22, 2012 with the headline “Just Think No” by Maureen Dowd. The article is Dowd’s reaction to the ongoing adventures of Todd Akin, a congressman from Missouri who is running for Senate. Instead of calling for the end of Akin’s senate campaign, she examined how his dangerous language and outdated ideas reflect on the Republican Party and what it says about them. I agree with Dowd and like her perspective on the matter, but there were some aspects of the article I really wished she had focused on more. The Akin controversy started with an interview; Akin was asked about his opinions on abortion. The Republican Party had recently made its no tolerance policy on abortion known, which states that even in cases of rape, incest, and danger to the mother, abortion would still be illegal. These are changes the Republican Party wants to add into the Constitution. When Akin was asked his opinion about abortion in the case of a rape, he responded with “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare, if it’s a legitimate rape the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.” Akin later tried to correct himself by saying he wasn’t talking about whether or not rapes were legitimate but whether or not it was a “forcible rape,” which didn’t go over well either. Akin discussed later in a radio interview how his party had abandoned him because of his recent statements. The Republican Party is trying to distance themselves from Akin, who has now been encouraged to drop his campaign for senate by members of both parties, including the Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. Akins responded by saying, “They just ran for cover at the first sign of any gunfire, and I think we need to rush to the gunfire,” which insinuates that his party isn’t “sticking to their guns,” if I may turn a phrase. There are a couple things wrong with this whole situation and Dowd discusses most of the issues in this article. Akin’s use of language like “legitimate rape,” hurts our society by breaking rape up into categories where it is then possible for rape to be seen as less of an issue. Using this type of language is demeaning to women and victims of rape everywhere; it also desensitizes the public to rape when public figures first address the situation with the attitude that the victim may be lying. Many cases of rape go unreported in part because our society has this attitude towards rape where fault is still placed to some extent on the victim. By spreading the idea that women have the power to not get pregnant after a rape, it just furthers that “blame the victim” mentality. Now not only 56

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Kristina Matthews Lopez: Miss Normal



Daniel McGunigale: A Missed Opportunity to Fix Politics are victims faced with people wondering why they got themselves raped, people are wondering why they chose to get pregnant from the rape. Other than being demeaning and harmful towards victims of rape, his statement is just not true. Dowd quotes Dr. Paul Blumenthal: “The biological facts are perhaps inconvenient, but whether the egg meets the sperm is a matter of luck or prevention.” Dr. Blumenthal is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology who is in charge of the Stanford Program for International Reproductive Education and Services. Dowd believes that Akin shouldn’t have to drop out of the race. He is a representative for his state and reflects ideas that his party embraces, which is Dowd’s point. Dowd is writing this article to show the ties that Akin has to the Republican Party. At this point, if he were to drop from his Senate race, it would be a good thing for the Republicans. It’s campaign season, which means that the different parties are trying to represent as many people as possible, and Akin brought unnecessary attention to a very controversial topic. Even worse, Akin has strong ties to the Republican presidential campaign. Paul Ryan, Republican Vice Presidential candidate, shares Akin’s views on abortion. The two presented several extreme anti-abortion bills together in Congress. And while to my knowledge Akin doesn’t have as direct a connection to Mitt Romney, the “doctors” Akin spoke of do. The “doctors” Akins talks about are in actuality one doctor: Dr. John C. Willke. During Mitt Romney’s last presidential campaign, he sought Dr. Willke’s endorsement. Dr. Willke, the former president of the U.S. National Right to Life Committee, wrote a book titled “Why Can’t We Love Them Both: Questions and Answers about Abortion.” This was the origin of this pseudo-science which may have been considered actual science over 40 years ago when it was first published in 1971. Dowd makes a lot of good points, making sure to talk about the use of damaging language and bringing to light the fact that this isn’t an isolated case of misinformation. But I felt like Dowd’s use of demeaning diction makes the article feel one sided and venomous rather than a report on important political happenings. I do understand that it’s election time and so most articles right now are people expressing themselves with their own bias in mind, but I felt like Dowd missed an opportunity to talk about how this relates to our political system as a whole rather than just in regards to Republicans. This sentiment was brought up briefly in the article by the doctor that Dowd interviews, Dr. Paul Blumenthal. Dowd quotes Blumenthal saying, “What is very disturbing to me is that people like Mr. Akin who have postulated this secret mechanism for avoiding pregnancy have developed their own make-believe world of science based on entirely self-serving beliefs of convenience or just ignorance.” 58

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Dowd talks about many important issues in her article, but she didn’t take her ideas far enough in my opinion. Most of us know that politicians use elaborate and sometimes damaging language to support their own agendas or evade topics; Akin is just an extreme version of what happens year round. Instead of connecting Akin to various Republican figures, we should look at what it is about politics that made him feel comfortable quoting 40-year-old “science” as fact. This kind of story is an opportunity to create dialogue about politics and the way our political figures act and speak to us.

Works Cited Dowd, Maureen. “Just Think No.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Aug. 2012. Web. 5 Sept. 2012. Geiger, Kim. “Todd Akin Not Alone in Adhering to Bogus Rape Theory.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 20 Aug. 2012. Web. 5 Sept. 2012.

John McCarter: Tsunami Fish



Julia Hornbeck: White Christmas Ceramics


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Gregory Anderson Paint and Feathers: A Study of Loss Loss is something we all have to learn to deal with in our lifetimes, and we all experience it in a variety of different ways. We could lose a loved one, a pet, a cherished object or even a part of ourselves, and it is how we react to that loss that helps shape who we are as a person. Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and Louise Erdrich’s “The Red Convertible” both share a common theme of coping with such a loss, and it tells us a lot about the characters who go through this life experience. Although both stories discuss and examine loss through symbolism, “The Raven” uses a more traditional and universal symbol while “The Red Convertible” uses a symbol specific to its story and characters. The narrator in “The Raven” sees an object in the story as the symbol of whatever it is that he has lost, in this case a woman named Lenore, and at first refuses to accept it. As is common in many stories, the eponymous bird in “The Raven” is a symbol of death, regret, and sadness for the narrator, who, despite all of his efforts, is unable to forget his “lost Lenore” and is only reminded of her more the longer the Raven sits above his door (Poe line 10). The one word that the Raven, and the narrator himself, cannot stop repeating tells the reader that Lenore is dead and gone, to return “Nevermore” (Poe 48). Enraged, the narrator denies it more and more until he is seemingly driven mad. Despite his efforts to forget that she is no longer with him, the truth will always be sitting over him like the Raven above his door, forever reminding him of the times that will never be again. In the “Red Convertible,” Lyman sees a more unorthodox symbol as the embodiment of what is gone. In this story, it is the car that he and his older brother Henry bought and drove together as the symbol of their lost innocence, as it reminded him of a much simpler time before the war and Henry’s drastic shift in attitude. The convertible becomes Lyman’s only hope in restoring Henry to his former self, and when they finally take it out on their ill-fated final journey, Lyman notices that Henry’s face looks “clear, more peaceful” (Erdrich 292). Lyman does not fully understand until after his brother’s death, however, that this innocence that Henry lost can never be fully regained and sees to the destruction of the embodiment of that innocence himself. Both characters are highly distressed by the fact that something they cherished so much will never be theirs again, and unfortunately, one deals with it better than the other. A raven has been used as a symbol of ill-omen in countless stories and works of literature, but the use of a convertible as a symbol for loss is something that is very rare 62

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Gregory Anderson: Paint and Feathers: A Study of Loss to see. Ravens have even been used to very similar effect before Poe, such as in the anonymously written poem “The Raven; or The Power of Conscience. A Border Legend.” In the poem, the Raven is “ominous and mysterious...say[s] the same thing over and over; and...become[s] the object of the central character’s fierce hatred” (Jones 186). Statements from Poe himself lead people to believe that his story also may have been somewhat inspired by Charles Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge, in which the main character owns a talking pet raven. While the bird in that story is not used in the same way as Poe’s, the fact that Poe wrote a review of the story and criticized that Dickens did not use the raven effectively as a symbol is a rather clear indication (Jones 186). There are a plethora of other examples of ravens being used in much the same way, but the use of a red convertible I have not heard of anywhere else. The symbol also varies from Poe’s because it symbolizes the loss of a piece of Lyman and Henry’s selves, something that is intangible and abstract. While it is obvious that Lenore will never come back to the narrator despite how much he wants her to, there is still some logic in Lyman hoping that having Henry fix the car will revitalize him and bring him back to how he was before the war. The Raven normally does not have any kind of personal significance to the character it appears to, but the car was very special to both Henry and Lyman and becomes a symbol because it is the object they bonded over as brothers. Erdrich’s use of a red convertible as a symbol for the innocence of two brothers wasn’t done just to be original, but was chosen because it makes a very personal symbol in terms of the story. The car is the only thing that Lyman and Henry can really connect to each other with, which is why it becomes Lyman’s only hope of restoring Henry’s former self and why his plan nearly works. Poe chose the Raven as a symbol for the narrator’s lost love because of its mythological connection to death and the afterlife, not because the couple had any sort of relation to ravens in any way. Erdrich gets much more personal with her characters and lets us know much more about their lives, so it is much more fitting in the context of the story for the item representing their entire relationship to be something they both really cared about. The emotional impact of Lyman letting the symbol go after the death of his beloved brother would not be nearly as powerful if that symbol was something more traditionally used in literature. The narrator and Lyman both handle the loss of something cherished in different ways and project their longing for it onto a physical object. While both deny at first that this loss is permanent and feebly attempt to remedy it, they both learn that as soon as something like a human being or your own childhood innocence that you shared with your brother is gone, it is gone for good. Although one of the symbols used is more traditional than the other, Poe and Erdrich both used them effectively enough to get their 64

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points across and deliver rather haunting stories about people attempting to move on after dealing with tragic events that forever change who those people are.

Works Cited Erdrich, Louise. “The Red Convertible.” Prentice Hall Literature Portfolio. Ed. Christy Desmet, D. Alexis Hart, and Deborah Church Miller Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2007. 286-93. Print. Jones, Joseph. “‘The Raven’ and ‘The Raven’: Another Source of Poe’s Poem.” American Literature. Vol. 30.No. 2 (1958): 185-193. JSTOR. Web. 9 Oct. 2012.

Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Raven.” Prentice Hall Literature Portfolio. Ed. Christy Desmet, D. Alexis Hart, and Deborah Church Miller. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2007. 492-4. Print.

Evan Link: Skating to Nowhere



Troy Ritter Don’t Smother this Mother Writing may just be human beings’ most useful commodity. Because of it we have plays that offer us entertainment, instructions to aid in the assembly of the most daunting household appliances, billboards to keep us up to speed on the latest trends, and books that seek to rectify the murdering of an innocent girl who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bet that last part left you scratching your head a bit; however, that is exactly what Sindiwe Magona’s novel Mother to Mother aims at, and it hits the target rather well. Equally uncommon is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, also known as the TRC. Fortunately, mass racial segregation and genocide aren’t practiced on a typical basis. Unfortunately, when it comes to the abolishing of such movements, as was the case with South Africa’s Apartheid, a clear medium on how to pick up the pieces isn’t readily available, and often hazy, divisive organizations are created to sort through the mess, which is what the TRC sought to do in 1995 following the end of Apartheid. Like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Mother to Mother employs unusual, albeit controversial, tactics to bring a sense of closure to such a horrific act, the real-life murdering of Amy Biehl, which arguably enhance both in their effectiveness at humanizing Apartheid. The Apartheid movement of South Africa found itself coming into play essentially over the country’s resources. First colonized by the Dutch and later “invaded” by the British which led to the Boer War, South Africa in the early nineteenth century became an independent nation-state with a government that was of strong Dutch origin, also known as Afrikaners. It was through the Afrikaners National Party that Apartheid was enacted in the hopes of Dutch descendants—not English descendants—having a strong hold over the country’s economy, resources, and social structure. What resulted was mass racial segregation that benefited white people enormously with jobs and land, and left colored races with no sense of freedom over where they lived, went to school, or worked. Colored South Africans were submitted to police brutality, had insufficient medical care, earned trivial wages compared to whites, and, ultimately, millions lost their homes while thousands lost their lives. Following years of political violence and increasing pressure from international companies and governments, Apartheid ended in 1990 (Chokshi). In Apartheid’s wake were people on both sides—the oppressors and the oppressed— who pointed the finger at one another and each other. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was launched as a means to “investigate crimes committed in the Apartheid era… and [to] oversee [and sort out] the following areas: human rights violations, 66

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reparations, [and] amnesty” (“TRC: The Facts”). This launch however was met with much criticism. Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife called it a “mud-slinging exercise” after she was charged with murder (qtd. in “Seeking”), the last president of the Apartheid-era, P.W. Botha, refused to testify (“Seeking”), some critics viewed the TRC as an act to make Apartheid seem as if it never happened, and others saw it as useless since nothing could ever really resolve what had happened (Apartheid 48:00). Yet, for the most part, the TRC was viewed as an effective resolution to Apartheid as it employed “victims, offenders, and the community to be directly involved,” which indirectly “helped create... the space for the tender roots of a new democracy to take hold” (Vora and Vora 307). The extremely bold novel, Mother to Mother by Sindiwe Magona, as the title suggests, is equally about bringing people together, except the parties involved are Mandisa— a black south African and mother of Mxolisi—and Amy Biehl’s mother—an American woman, whose daughter has been killed by Mxolisi. The fictionalized account of Amy’s death focuses mainly on Mandisa as she writes to Amy’s mother about exactly what was culminating in the minds of black South Africans in order for the slaying of Amy to seem like the right thing to do. In it, she describes horror stories of displacement, legends of teenage prophets making proclamations to kill cattle, starving kids, and distrust for government, but all of it means nothing. Sure, you feel sorry for them, but they are just characters, right? It’s only afterwards, when testimonies of the TRC are brought to light, that it becomes clear the characters of the novel aren’t so different from the people affected by Apartheid, and greater empathy is felt. Mandisa’s first line in the novel is, “My son killed your daughter” (Magona 1). Readers are then taken on a journey that explores that murder, which upon a first read seems to be exploiting Amy’s death as a way to air excuses. Questions in readers’ minds arise as to why a woman (Mandisa) would go to all this trouble for a crime she didn’t even commit? Except, as it’s shown with people who went before the TRC tribunal explaining their motives for horrendous crimes, Mandisa is not alone. This is what Mandisa knows; she’s not writing a book for a book’s sake, and she’s going out on a limb and trying to recreate her own mini-TRC. Her goal isn’t sympathy from Amy Biehl’s mother, but understanding through truth of words and a reconciliation of the spirit that makes it clear: had the lives of Amy and Mxolisi been reversed, she would have killed him. Towards the end of novel, Mandisa tells the story of her people, the Xhosa, burning all the cattle after a false prophet said the destruction of the cattle would get all the white men out of the country (Magona 175-6). Initially, it’s really hard to think that even fictional characters would find that prophecy to make any sense; it gets even harder AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Troy Ritter: Don’t Smother this Mother when readers learn that that actually happened. Except upon reading several articles in relation to the TRC, we see that there is no comedy behind these South Africans’ desperation for peace: it led them to blow up buildings (“AC/99/0332”) and rape, murder, and immolate their own people (“AC/96/0003”). It’s the desperate yearning for being treated equally that leads Mxloisi to kill Amy, not malice. While direct connections between the text and the work of the TRC are fairly minimal, the most important thing that links the two is their ability to boost one another in what they seek to accomplish. Reading a list of facts can prove difficult for people to develop a connection to; at the same time, when reading a work of fiction that deals with something so extreme from the reader’s current settings and revolves around a culture that is drastically different, forming emotions about the characters involved isn’t always easy. Sometimes for things to be felt, it is necessary for both facts and fiction to be involved as the fiction takes facts and puts an artistic spin on things, while the facts work at making the art more believable. Mother to Mother is enhanced by the knowledge of the TRC because not only does it show that defending a murder of an innocent person isn’t so strange, it also takes the novel out of the realm of fiction and puts it in reality. A story such as this can rub people the wrong the way: a mother who seems to be making an endless amount of excuses in the hopes that her child’s act of murder can seem justifiable. Murder, unless in self-defense, is regarded as unjustifiable. Yet, in this novel, it brings a whole different reason as to why someone would rightfully murder a human being: they believe it will bring peace. At first, that sounds absolutely disgusting. But the stories that arise from the TRC show us that Mxloisi wasn’t alone; there were in fact many people who genuinely thought that such murders would bring radical changes. That kind of knowledge, that complete desperation people are led to that makes rationality impossible to see, is so foreign to what is generally accepted as the human condition that it’s only really grasped when there are many examples—not just one, as is the case with Mxloisi—which the TRC provides. Which is better: art or fact? I’m not here to decide that one; however, in the case of Mother to Mother, it’s both. Reading any particular history on South Africa and Apartheid is great in general for rounding out the context of the book, but something about learning of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission really broadens the horizons of this stark, alienating novel by giving it a face in a literary way. Through powerful testimonies of guilty and innocent, a wealth of human emotion is explored. Mother to Mother justifies not just one murder, but many more like it that happened out of colored people’s despair at the lives they had been submitted to in South Africa; the Truth 68

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and Reconciliation Commission is necessary for understanding how a woman could author a book that seeks to make right such a horrible act.

Works Cited “AC/96/0003.” Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. 28 Aug. 1996. Web. 4 Apr. 2012. “AC/99/0332.” Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. 25 Nov. 1999. Web. 4 Apr. 2012. Apartheid Did Not Die. Dir. Alan Lawry. Perf. John Pilger. Granada International, 1998. Web. 4 Apr. 2012. Chokshi, Monal, et al. “Computers and the Apartheid Regime in South Africa.” Stanford University. Stanford University, Spring 1995. Web. 4 Apr. 2012. Magona, Sindiwe. Mother to Mother. Boston: Beacon, 1998. Print. “Seeking the Truth: Timeline.” BBC. BBC, 30 Oct. 1998. Web. 4 Apr. 2012. “TRC: The Facts.” BBC. BBC, 30 Oct. 1998. Web. 3 Apr. 2012. Vora, Jay A., and Erika Vora. “The Effectiveness of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Perceptions of Xhosa, Afrikaner, and English South Africans.” Journal of Black Studies 34.3 (2004): 306-10. Print.

Jeremy Kaye: Michael



Miguel Sosa: La Llorona 3D


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Tawney Allen Forever My Home The Topa Topa Mountains were painted behind all the houses like a portrait. The “pink moment” sky blended purple and pink into the background of the mountain ridges, creating a face known as “Chief’s Peak.” The ridges of the mountain sculptured the indent of the eyes and outlined the nose. In the middle of the street, pavement was faded grey with cracks and giant potholes. The sidewalk was formed of boxes of dried clay that were placed one after another. The clay boxes lined the edges of every house all the way up the street. In front of each house, handprints were embedded. Every house was different, yet similar. Every house had its own unique story. On the left side of the street was a woman whose name I cannot recall, but she lived alone except for her small dog with black, knotted hair, named Annie. As a child, I was allowed to go into her backyard and play with Annie; however, the dog was not as sweet as she appeared. Annie had sharp, translucent white teeth that would penetrate my skin as we played. The woman’s house was filled with animal skin and old western furniture. There was a rug fashioned of cowhide spread out on her living room floor. The base color was white with tan spots. I would walk across the rug with my bare feet, and the texture of the cowhide was prickly and rough. She was known on the street for her unusual taste in design, and the neighborhood did not appreciate her color pallet since she painted her house a mint-chip green with salmon-pink trim. Her colorful house did not suit the upscale neighborhood where everyone’s house was rich earth colors and brick trim. Right across from the lady with the small dog lived Mr. and Mrs. Polis. The couple was retired and took pride in their expansive garden filled with ripe strawberries and tomatoes. The garden covered every inch of the backyard, except for the pathways made of small black, gray, and, white pebbles that sparkled when the sun shone on them. Sometimes, I would go over to help pull weeds as a child, and as a reward, I received three small cherry tomatoes, freshly picked. I would pluck each tomato from my hand, one by one, and then insert it in my mouth. My mouth watered as I sipped the sweet liquid, which left behind a faint pink color. In the summertime, when the warm weather wrapped around my skin like a heavy blanket, the scent of the ripe strawberries would linger in front of the house. Usually, I could smell the freshness of the garden in the breeze, but one day, there was a different and distinct odor. I peeked over the fence where the backyard was deserted and smelled of compost; mold and dust scratched the inside of my nose. Mr. Polis died a few years ago and so did his extraordinary garden; I never said goodbye. 72

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Next to the Polis house resided a married couple. The children on the block knew them only as The Campbell’s. Their house was a light earthy blue with dark red brick that looked like a house that would be found in Brooklyn, New York. On their front porch stood a parrot that could talk; the bird sang a high-pitched note for five minutes twice a day. The sound was like a violin played by a bare bow rubbed against a broken string. Rusty knives and saws hung below a window panel. On the left of the house could be found a skull from an unknown animal, its head pale and cracked. All the teeth were still intact, but the teeth appeared to have never been brushed. Before they remodeled their front yard, there were two trees that had dark plum leaves. We would wait for the leaves to fall to the ground to roll around in them, and, every Christmas, the Campbells would hang candy canes of different colors on the trees for all the children. The plants resembled small Christmas trees, and to a child, they always promised serenity and happiness. Finally, across the street on the left-hand side and up two houses to the right, I reached my childhood home. This structure was my grandmother’s house, but I grew up there as a small child into my early teen years. Now painted a pale-green color, I could no longer remember the color painted seven years ago. It still retained the stacked-up red brick that outlined and separated the green grass to create a walkway to the front door. On each side, the brick wall was designed to look like a set of stairs. Every two bricks would form a step up; I recalled the many times I fell. On the right side of the house, the driveway still held the large dark spot from the oil spills of the old cars my dad once restored. To the right of the garage, there was a space to walk to the back gate where we kept the blue, brown, and green trash cans. A tan brick wall that barricaded the front and backyard stood at six feet; I had used the wall as a handball court or obstacle course when I thought I was Cat Woman. In between the grass on the right and near the driveway, a statue of an old Native American woman knelt by a pond; I always thought she was praying. To the left, a garden of flowers, pink and red roses in particular, decorated the front yard. My grandma used to pull weeds and trim the rose bush every morning. The porch was constructed of brick with two white columns that supported the roof of the house. On the first column, nearest to the front door, a chunk of wood was missing from when I Sparta-kicked it out of place while I was playing ninja as a child. The handengraved sign my grandfather carved, before he died, hung above the porch; it read, “McGuire.” As a child, I would sit on the old, white rocking chair and admire the sign, for it was once a proud name that now had fallen apart. I stood back, sadly. After all these years, I never paid attention to the memories because I wanted to block them all out. But I missed this house more than anything now that it AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Tawney Allen: Forever My Home was in my presence. More than that, I missed being a child and having that family. As years went by and I became older, my family grew apart. I sat down. Cold brick caused chills; painful emotions and memories flooded my consciousness. This home was the foundation of a past I tried to forget, but it was still my home.

Jacob Wyman: Figure Study


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Mike Federico Where Did Education Go Wrong? In Stop Stealing Dreams, Seth Godin argues the education system has become pathetic and libraries are no longer the source of information they once were. In order to keep pace with an ever growing and changing workforce, the education system must also change to give students the ability to be more engaged in class, and it must allow for them to have the creativity to grow along with that work force. Libraries must play a key role in guiding students along their way. In Section 6 of Stop Stealing Dreams, which is entitled “Changing What We Get Because We’ve Changed What We Need,” Godin reflects on how out of date our current school education system is. “If school’s function is to create the workers we need to fuel our economy, we need to change school, because the workers we need have changed as well.” We take a step backwards each year we don’t address this problem, and although it seems hard to reach the goal of tying education with needed work force, we can find ways to fix this. We can take a look at what careers are in demand now and which have grown in the last twenty-years. Then we can implement the information about those different careers into our school curriculum. On the other hand, schools could go in the total opposite direction and base education on the student’s ability and creativity. How do we, as people, even know what our own abilities are, or the extent of what our own creativity can be, if we all are taught the same things the same way over and over again? In “My Ignorance vs. Your Knowledge,” section 119 of Stop Stealing Dreams, Godin goes into how our education systems have put blindly memorizing “facts,” over independently thinking to reveal the truth. The emphasis is to get students to want to learn the truth and find the means and resources to find the truth. In this section, Albert Schweitzer states, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know; the only ones among you who will be happy are those who sought and found out to serve” (qtd. in Godin). I love this quote for the fact that I personally have found happiness in service of my time to others. I was never taught anything about service in my K through 12 school years; only in my later years did I learn of this gift. So, it brings me to ask, why was this missed? I believe it goes back to truth! My honesty to others is service and is to be expected. But we are not taught the truth of most history in the world; we must start by either telling the truth to students or just stop teaching altogether! For example, take the tales of Christopher Columbus and the Pilgrims. Is there more to the stories than what is being taught in classroom, and if so, from whom and from where can this information be found? Could this information be found in the library? 76

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Andre Hendrych: Rwanden Basket



Mike Federico: Where Did Education Go Wrong? In “The Future of the Library,” section 123 of Stop Stealing Dreams, Godin speaks of the past, present and future of the library. He explains how at one time the library was used to hold and share books, which only kings and the rich could afford, and for which almost only scholars used the library for information. When I was a youngster, the library was a magical place where we took field trips; it was also used for book reports and studying. The state of the library today is not as strong as it once was. When I went to college fifteen years removed from any type of schooling, for the most part, if I needed to do any type of research, I would “fire up” my computer and allow Google to do the finding for me. Godin says,” When kids go to the mall instead on the library, it’s not that the mall that won; it’s the library lost.” I know at a young age I would use the library all the time and for any reason. As kids, my friends and I even just hung out there after school. I have to say my creative side may have stopped developing in my teens due to the fact that mall seemed more appealing. Not only did the library lose, but so did I. Since this happened to me as a teen, how many teens might this be happening to today? So, why not combine the best of both worlds? Godin writes, “The library is no longer a warehouse for dead books. Just in time for the information economy, the library ought to be the local nerve center for information.” His basic idea would be for libraries to have an appeal, which is needed in today’s society. How about a library with a coffee shop theme that has a staff with relevant knowledge and a pulse of today’s society? Godin’s Stop Stealing Dreams can guide reform of our education system. Today we spend so much time and effort on matters that should be taking a backseat to education reform. We spend billions of dollars on campaigns for a tobacco tax, but we don’t spend a penny more on improving our libraries or schools; instead, we keep cutting education by laying off teachers. It is time to change the way our students are taught and support teaching with proper sources of information.

Work Cited Godin, Seth. Stop Stealing Dreams. Seth Godin for Do You Zoom, Inc., 2012. Web. 23 June 2012.


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Fernando Garcia: Androgynous



Angela Guerrero Improving Target Security Growing up in the ghetto, surrounded by thieves, makes learning right from wrong harder than it should be. When I was thirteen years old my mom and I decided to help Target with the kinks they had in security. In doing this, an extensive investigation was done, and we were watched for about eight months. Later my mom was charged with commercial burglary and was kicked out of Target forever. When I was thirteen, I saw how much my mom struggled to provide for a family of four. Our home rarely had any of the necessities for living, and times were very hard. One day, a friend of hers suggested that my mom just take everything that she needed from the store, but make sure not to get caught of course. The great mind that my mother has, she thought of a smarter way to get what she needed without having to steal completely. Finally it clicked; she would get two carts of everything that she needed. She would purchase one of the carts, then take the second cart, and finally return one of the carts and get all her money back. It was a very complicated and confusing process. People laughed because it didn’t make sense, but my mom knew what she was doing. She had a well-thought-out plan that was both meticulous and fireproof. So, being the determined woman that she is, she proved everyone wrong. She showed everyone that had doubted her that she was not only smarter than them, but also much sneakier. Because grocery stores are so much different than department stores, she decided that Target was the best place to do it. They had two entrances and no visible security. We were able to get away with returning everything to the store because of all the excuses that we had come up with; they seemed pretty believable. For example, I would say something to the effect that my mom spent all the rent money, my grandma didn’t realize that she doesn’t want or need any of this junk, and sometimes we would go as far to say that we needed the money back to pay for a family member’s funeral. Next, she would have me follow beside her with a separate cart and get the same exact items. After that was completed, I would leave the cart by the back entrance in Target, and I would then go with her to pay for her cart. Once everything was paid for, I would take the receipt from her and go back to my cart and exit through the garden section. If any questions were asked by any employees, I would simply say “Oh goodness, I forgot that I parked on this side of the building.” We were able to get away with this for about eight months. For instance, some of the items that were purchased were Tide and Downey, the Dyson 80

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vacuum, comforters, clothes, and sometimes we would even get decorations for the house. Our usual haul would range between five to eight hundred dollars every couple of weeks. I remember this one time we had gone, and my mom allowed me to get a whole new wardrobe, a Hello Kitty karaoke machine, a blue and black stereo system, and a new turquoise bedspread with matching sheets. At that time, I was so happy and had felt like a princess. There were no feelings of guilt or remorse for everything that we were doing at that point in time. I can only remember a feeling of entitlement and accomplishment. Little did we know that we were being watched towards the eighth month. As far as I knew, what we were doing wasn’t bad because we were giving back one of the carts as a return. But I knew something was wrong, and we both started to get anxious. My mom had started to notice that odd people would follow us throughout the store. At first, I thought we were just a little paranoid, but they were always making a point to look us in the eyes as if they knew what we were doing. We had gone to about four or five different Targets, and we didn’t expect them to have been watching us or working together as one. The day of our last criminal acts was the worst day ever. My mom and I had been fighting all that morning, and there was just something very eerie about that day. We had gone to the Target in Camarillo and had done our usual shopping routine. After being there for sometime, the day had started to feel like it would be good after all. We had gotten through the line with ease, and it was now my turn to go and get my cart, just like every other time. I was relieved to see that no one was in the garden section where I was going to exit; little did I know that I had been followed the whole way. Just as I had exited the building I was approached by the secret shopper who had been following me. At first, I was hesitant to acknowledge his presence; it wasn’t until he told me to follow him that I realized that I had no choice. He had said, “I’m not asking you. We already have your mom, and we don’t need you to make a scene.” But the secret shopper had lied to me; my mom was in the car waiting for me. The walk to the security office had felt like it was an eternity. He had me take the cart with me; I felt like throwing up, and my palms were so sweaty. It had taken everything in me to not cry on the way there. But it was no use. As soon as I entered the office, I started sobbing uncontrollably, and it didn’t help that my mom wasn’t there. I didn’t understand what was going on and that what I had done was wrong. Finally, my mom walked through the door and told me to not say anything. Following right behind her was an ogre of a cop; he had to duck just to walk through the doorway. We were then shown all of the AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Gale Albright: Arlene on the Sea Wall


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Angela Guerrero: Improving Target Security footage and evidence that had been built up over those eight months. He then proceeded to read my mom her rights, and he gave her an on-sight arrest and release. She was charged with commercial burglary; she had to do community service and attend a month’s worth of thievery classes. Her thievery classes consisted of learning what was considered stealing and that it wasn’t worth the hassle to steal. I got off with a slap on the wrist because my mom had begged the officer to just let me be, due to the fact that I was unaware of my actions. He had done this under one circumstance. She had to promise him that she would turn me into him if I ever stolen again. That way he could arrest me himself. At her court date, she had decided to fight the case and pled insanity. There was more than enough evidence to prove that she couldn’t differentiate between right and wrong, and she had been deemed clinically insane by the court’s psychiatrists. So they had no choice but to let her off the hook. The court mandated that she go to therapy and see a psychiatrist. This was so that she could get medicated and learn to distinguish between right and wrong. In the end, we had both learned that what we had done was wrong and that there are absolutely no reasons as to why anyone should take anything that doesn’t belong to them. In the long run we had also helped Target improve their security. Now when you visit any Target the place that you purchase your items is the place that you must exit. I believe that they have even gone as far as removing the garden exits and entrances. Not to mention all the heavy duty cameras that have been installed and the security guards that are now visible; they are the loss prevention team. Since that incident, we have not tried to steal from any store and I even refuse to take a napkin unless I know that it is all right with the stores.



Alyssa Mendoza Read Along with Me and Gain Knowledge Growing up, I loved going into the library and choosing a book from the thousands that were neatly organized on the big shelves. Unfortunately, my little brothers don’t feel the same way about picking up a book and reading. I have come to find out that this is a problem for most kids. The issue here is that kids have trouble grasping how much fun reading actually is. Parents and teachers should inform them in the most interesting ways that reading is enjoyable; more significantly, it is the most important thing they will ever do. The distractions surrounding kids nowadays doesn’t help promote the idea of reading for fun at all. In spite of kids not having a huge desire to read while growing up, it truly helps them grow in knowledge because they are constantly gaining vocabulary, it also becomes easier for them to pick up the use of proper grammar. Kids obviously don’t have the longest attention spans. I usually find myself practically dragging my little brothers away from the television to do their reading homework. The part that annoys me the most is that they only get a reading log of twenty minutes a night. I want them to understand that reading is fun and enjoyable so when they enter high school and college, the reading won’t be difficult to complete. In the 2008 article “Why Reading Is The Most Important Thing You Will Ever Do,” author Cassandra James implies that reading will help you be successful in everything you do. James notes, “Children have so many distractions – TV, internet computer games, sports – that they think they don’t have time to read and, quite frankly, they often find reading boring compared to these other things.” In other words, James is reasoning that kids aren’t very interested in reading books because they are easily distracted. Although I grant that computer games and sports are fun to do, especially while growing up, I still maintain that reading is more enjoyable, and it is exciting to be captivated by stories while gaining vital knowledge that will benefit kids in the future. Despite the distractions, parents and teachers need to take the responsibility of teaching kids how to read for fun. Kids often don’t understand how much it will enhance their vocabulary. What words you use while being interviewed for a job is a prime example of how vocabulary can influence your life (James). This reminds me of how my brothers are picking up on words and learning how to use them properly. My little brothers will say something intelligent and surprise me. I turn to them and say, “Where did you learn that?” I’m not surprised when they look at me and shrug their shoulders. I know it’s from the practice of reading. It’s amazing how reading teaches kids vocabulary and how to properly use it without their even noticing. It just happens.


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In addition to gaining vocabulary, kids also learn the proper use of grammar while reading books. People who are learning a second language benefit from reading as well. In the non-fiction book I recently read, Reading Lolita in Tehran, teacher Azar Nafisi and her group of students study books as a getaway from their strict Muslim society. They enjoy reading and gaining knowledge, they take the time to understand words and they enjoy evaluating the meaning of each sentence in difficult readings. Vocabulary and grammar became an essential part of reading for fun.

Works Cited James, Cassandra. “Why Reading is the Most Important Thing You Will Ever Do.� Yahoo! Voices. Yahoo! Inc., 29 Feb. 2008. Web. 5 Nov. 2012. Nafisi, Azar. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. New York: Random House, 2003. Print.

Jaime Swan: Sacrifice



Jaelene Mora A Magnificent Man There is a theory which states that the older you are, the wiser you become. As a young girl, I spent hours and hours with a man so tall that I would have to tip my head backwards in order to see his face. He had curly hair with at least twenty strands of white hair; the mustache above his upper lip moved every time he talked. This man was my grandfather. My grandfather shared many moments of my youth , but the most memorable are the days he picked me up from school. My mother worked long hours, so my grandfather was a surrogate mother during the hours after school. He picked me up, and we headed straight to the library on Main Street. There was a homework center on the second level is where Mrs. Martinez would help me with my homework until I finished it. My grandpa always put my education first, no matter what. His favorite saying was, “You can be anyone you want to be as long as you are well educated.” At the age of eighteen, Jack became a farm worker, picking walnuts and other sources of farming food. He once told me that there were no bathrooms; therefore, the workers were forced to wait until the end of their shift. Jack’s rough childhood gave him the experience he needed to realize at a very young age that Chicanos were underprivileged in society. As a fieldworker, Jack came together with a well-known man named César Chavez, circa 1985. They both were fighting for the farm workers to gain access to bathrooms and more benefits. Not only was my grandpa standing up for the farm workers, but he was sticking up for more Chicanos to get a chance in the acting industry; to be able to work as a higher authority . He would often proclaim the phrase “Si se puede,” (Spanish for “Yes, I can”) along with protesters. When César Chavez became ill and passed away, Jack, my grandfather, felt an innate desire to mark his accomplishments. Jack described Chavez as a generous, successful man who should get the knowledge he deserves. My grandfather, Jack Nava, wanted to make a stamp for César Chavez to represent his accomplishments. To mark Chavez’ name, Jack did television and print interviews to spread the voice for farmworkers’ rights. My grandfather would often describe clothing and style to me. During the early 1940’s, my grandpa would dress up like the zoot suiters. His full-legged pants were pressed down the middle, snugged tight cuffed at the bottom. His coat was long and heavily padded, wide at the shoulders. Every once in awhile , mostly on Sundays, he would wear a fancy hat with a red and black feather. He was always proud to remind me that 86

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Ines Zinkewich: Winter



Jaelene Mora: A Magnificent Man he was known for his sunglasses, never afraid to have style and stand out. His confidence was my favorite characteristic as a young girl, and my most treasured as a young adult. When I was five a tragedy occurred that changed my grandpa’s life forever. My grandpa got blood clots on both of his legs. The doctors tried to find other ways to solve this problem, but the best thing to do was to amputate both of his legs. Jack didn’t let that get in his way because he was always looking at the bright side of things. His doctors gave him prosthetic legs as a way for him to get around rather than to stay seated in a wheelchair. Within months he was on his feet walking around as if he had never had a life-changing medical issue. One Friday when I was in third grade, I remember my grandpa took me to the beach, his favorite place to be in his spare time. My grandpa and I were walking along the sand when he whispered in my ear, “I’m going to stay alive as long as I can to see you grow up.” I laughed because I was too little to understand, but I now realize his desire to see me grow and guide me in the right direction. A man with so much confidence not only saw the light at the end of the tunnel, but the view beyond that. My whole family respects Jack. He had an individual relationship with every person in our family. He was the kind of person you would go to for advice. Life had a huge impact on him, and as a result he imprinted the family with invaluable life lessons. He taught my cousins and me to speak Spanish and so much more. When I was in sixth grade, I remember my mother pulling me out of school at lunch time. Her makeup was running down her rosy cheeks because her face was overflowing with tears. She drove us to my grandpa’s house where the whole family was crying and terrified. My grandpa had a heart attack and he didn’t make it to the emergency room. My heart dropped; I couldn’t breathe and my mind was running through all of the good times we had together. On August 9, 2006, our family shattered into a million different pieces which fell in too many different directions. Jack Nava’s passing away changed our family forever. It was like he was the heart of the family that kept us all alive. My grandpa Jack was a very hard working man who didn’t let anything affect his beliefs, his compassionate personality. He always protected his family. I will always remember our long interesting talks which ended with laughter. With Jack there was never a dull moment. Jack Nava will always have a special place in my heart. I will carry his story and life lessons into my future and the next generation. 88

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Julieanne Case: Life’s Reflection



Madison O’Donnell Blessings of Life in Disguise Playing basketball multiple times a week and having tournaments on the weekends has always been a major aspect of my life. When I was injured in March 2012, the implications of the injury and surgery would change my life as I knew it. My freshman college schedule was decided. Regardless of the fact that I knew I had to have surgery, I was determined to follow through with my plans. What I did not anticipate was the fact that functioning in a wheelchair would create such limitations. As a student-athlete, my 4.0 GPA gave me the confidence to conquer my 19-unit schedule for the Fall semester. However, the moment I returned home from surgery I felt the overwhelming reality that my expectations were just too high. The aching, throbbing, shooting pain down my ankle was too much to handle; I could feel my wounds healing. Mandatory class on Monday was all that I could think about. The fact that I could not take any medication to ease the excruciating pain made me want to reconsider my situation. Prior to walking into the EAC Monday morning, I was complaining, crying, and wanting to quit because I hated not being able to help myself. I repeatedly kept saying, “I hate my life, I hate my life.” These feelings changed the moment I set foot in the EAC. I saw many other students who were not only physically disabled, but also mentally disabled. In that moment I realized that my challenges were momentary. How could I feel so helpless when my situation was temporary and others had life-long challenges to overcome? I began to imagine how others might be told on a regular basis that they could not do something because of their disability. My reality was that my injury was just temporary. I saw strength in those around me, which gave me the power to endure and pursue my plan. Regardless of the surgery, I wanted to continue my education. Knowing that students on college campuses face struggles every day with almost every task made me want to work ten times harder and appreciate this beautiful life God has provided me. My independence came to a halt, and I found myself at the mercy of those around me willing to help out. Independence was something I thrived on; I rarely had to ask for someone’s help. Not only did my dad and brother tell me not to go to school for the first three weeks, but once my doctor and nurse found out that I was planning on attending school three days after surgery, they were highly concerned. I repeatedly told my dad, brother, and doctors that no matter how much pain I was in, I would go to school. It was never an option to miss an entire semester due to this injury, nor did I want to fall behind with my academic and athletic goals. 90

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With one compromise, I was on my way to my first day of classes. My dad agreed to allow me to go to school if (and only if) I went in a wheelchair. I wanted to be able to go to school on my own, get tutored on my own schedule, and run errands. However, as strong-minded as I am, I realized that none of this was going to happen. I was so blessed during this time to have the continued support of my dad and my brother. Walking into the EAC that morning made me realize that life, and everything about daily life, is a blessing. That morning I was reminded of just how lucky I was to be in a wheelchair with a date of full recovery in my mind. My situation, although pretty bad at the time, was not nearly as bad as it could have been. Everyone is truly blessed in what God has provided because regardless of your situation, someone else has it worse than you. I just needed to see that there was hope for me, no matter how stupid that sounds. I was discouraged because of the superficial nature of the wheelchair, and I am grateful that I was able to capture the strength I needed during that time in my life.

Thadious Taylor: Floating in Space



Jasmin Silva The Importance of Nature in Children Nature-Deficit Disorder; the term is not intended to be a new medical diagnosis, but a description of the human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses. -Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods In my family there are a total of nine kids. As a kid I remember how fun it was to expand my imagination in the outdoors, such as my front yard, and just explore new insects I would find. Growing up, I used to live next to a creek, and every day after school, my brother and sister and I would just go down and catch frogs or tadpoles. We used to have a swing tied to a tree and would spend our whole free time riding it and just enjoying the outdoors rather than staying inside the house dealing with our family troubles. The creek was our safe haven; we felt free and safe and just being outdoors away from home, escaping our troubles and reality. When my parents divorced we ended up having to move away from our home, our creek, and our safe haven. After leaving that area, I can’t quite remember playing outside much as I grew older. I found a new interest in the internet, video games, texting and just spending most of my time inside. As I step back and take a look at my younger siblings’ childhoods, it seems like they’re not as fond of the outdoors as I was. They were more interested in the latest T.V. shows and the latest video games. I realize this generation’s kids have no clue how to enjoy themselves outside playing in the grass and rocks and exploring the outside world without having to play a sport. For my recent book club book I read Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. The problem he mentions in the book is called Nature-Deficit disorder; it’s not a real disorder but it is an epidemic that is going on in the world. Nature-Deficit disorder is “ a label used to address the increasing cost to children as they are increasingly deprived of direct contact with nature and the experience of unstructured free play in the out-ofdoors”(Driessnack 73). After reading the book and understanding what it was about, I realized that my younger siblings are going through Nature-Deficit Disorder. Because of this, I decided to learn how can I help my neighborhood kids as well as my siblings with their Nature-Deficit Disorder. I didn’t know much about “Nature-Deficit Disorder,” but from what I recall from Last Child in the Woods, I decided to do more research using the college’s library database. I knew Nature-Deficit Disorder in children affected the way they would turn out as they 92

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TOP: Jasmine Vedder: Work at Play BOTTOM: Jaime Swan: Complimentary Color Collage



Madison O’Donnell: The Importance of Nature in Children grew up, but I didn’t know the details or if there were any organizations trying to make the disorder known to the public. People might not think it’s an epidemic affecting our future and the future of many generations to come, but it really is a problem for the future children and adults: “In 2007, the World Future Society ranked Nature-Deficit disorder as one of the top 10 concepts that could impact and shape world health in the years to come”(Driessnack 74). Nature-Deficit disorder in children is a very bad thing as nature is essential in a child’s life. Louv states, “As one scientist puts it, we can now assume that just as children need good nutrition and adequate sleep, they may very well need contact with nature” (3).Clifford Knapp writes, “Additional studies reported on unstructured play of children, child obesity, nurturing solitude in nature, benefits for at-risk youth, and the legal implications of increased nature contacts” (63). What Knapp clearly says is that without nature children’s physical health and mental health is at risk. If children don’t run around freely in nature and just expand their imagination with the outdoors, studies show adults attitudes can be bad or stay the same: “Active childhood involvement with plants may affect subsequent attitudes and behavior in adults”(Blair 18). Richard Louv says Nature-Deficit disorder can be very bad for a child’s creativity and imagination because wandering in nature and playing outside can help prevent the weakening of creativity in a child: “That isolation from nature is weakening our creativity and our spirituality-our sense that there is more to existence than the self and our need to love and respect all life”(53). According to Louv two of the many reasons Nature-Deficit disorder came to be are the modern technology children now have and because of parents afraid for the safety of their children while they play outside. Too many kids spend most of their free time inside watching television, playing video games, or fixating on some kind of electronics instead of going outside: “Today, children between the ages of 8 and 18 years spend an average of 6.5 hrs. a day with electronic media” (Driessnack 73). This generation’s kids spend most of their time learning about nature through media or in a car ride: “Their experience of nature most often occurs from the inside of an automobile looking out or as they watch nature DVDs projected on car headrest screens directly in front of them”(Louv 116). Another factor in development of Nature-Deficit disorder is parents’ fears of what trouble can happen to their child in the outdoors. Most parents are scared of the injuries, insects, or strangers that the child might encounter while playing outdoors: “In addition, increasing urbanization has strongly diminished opportunities for safe outdoor play, and many parents actively discourage children from going outdoors to prevent them from being harmed”(Van Den Berg 430).


2013 VC Voices

The benefits of nature in a child’s life is never-ending. There are many ways nature benefits children. It gives the child a peaceful place to be safe, and studies show nature can help treat some effects of depression: “In the emotional domain, it has been found that participation in nature-based programs can increase self-esteem and emotional wellbeing, especially in children and youth from poor backgrounds”(Van Den Berg 431). Nature also plays a major role in helping ADHD in children. If parents of ADHD children and depressed children knew this information it might save them the money and nasty side-effects of antidepressants: “However, there are some indications that contact with nature may reduce symptoms of ADHD, which include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness”(Van Den Berg 431). Through all these studies and findings we can now see how essential it is for nature and the outdoors to be a part of a child’s life especially for those with mental health problems and with ADHD. Another way nature is helpful in a child or teenager’s life is as a stress reliever: “Furthermore, a study among rural school-age children revealed that children with high amounts of nature in and around their homes exhibited higher self-esteem and better resilience against negative impacts of stressful life events” (Van Den Berg 431). After learning about the positive effects nature can have in a child’s life, why it is so essential, and basically learning what Nature-Deficit disorder was, I immediately knew this project was going to be exciting. My next step was to figure out how I could help my neighborhood kids and my younger siblings with their Nature-Deficit disorder. Before I could start planning out my strategy, I got advice from someone who knows a lot about kids, Melba Ortega, a single mother of seven children. She’s not a psychologist or a doctor but she knows more about children than anyone else I know. According to Ortega, “ Children are something else; you have to learn how to play their game and win. Video games and television are going to rot the kids’ brains. What they need is to get outside and be kids and let their animal instinct take over for a little.” When I was done trying to figure out how children think, how Nature-Deficit disorder is real, and it indeed is an epidemic, I decided it was time for me to act upon this problem. I decided I would try to help my neighborhood kids as well as my siblings get used to having fun in the outdoors without jungle gyms, swings or basketball courts, but with just a big patch of land filled with trees and grass. At first I was a little nervous on how the parents of these children would react, especially since I knew the reason why most kids are going through Nature-Deficit disorder is because the parents are scared of them getting hurt or have no time to experience nature with their children: “It takes time--loose, unstructured dream-time-- to experience nature in a meaningful way. Unless parents are vigilant, such time becomes a scarce resource, because time



Madison O’Donnell: The Importance of Nature in Children is consumed by multiple invisible forces; because our culture currently places so little value on natural play” (Louv 117). I had my mom accompany me while I went to my little brother’s friends’ houses to collect children willing to spend two hours a week playing outside and learning how to play some free-style games like “tag” or “duck ,duck, goose”. In total I had ten kids-- four of them were my siblings, and the rest were little friends. I ended up doing it for two weeks. Fridays for two hours I would go around the neighborhood and pick them up. Once I took them to “the Land” they went crazy with energy; it was actually really nice to see these innocent kids having fun outside instead of being locked up inside. After noticing how hard it was to try to control ten kids, the second time I picked them up I had my sister join me and it went smoother. We actually played games and we each told a story about our lives and at the end of the two hours I decided to read them The Cat in the Hat by Dr.Seuss. I wanted to see if they would be able to listen through the whole story, and to my surprise they were really quiet and listened and behaved so well. This confirmed what I read in my research: “Wells found that direct experience with/in nature increased children’s attention spans and abilities, self-discipline, and self-regulation. She also found that access to natural play areas helped reduce stress in children” (Driessnack 73). After doing my service learning hours I realized that nature truly does make an impact on a child’s life. After doing this project my sister and I decided to continue taking the kids to the big patch of land every other Friday. I realize that nature is more than just grass, insects and animals-- it’s more of a free therapy to these kids to use all their energy and be able to act however they want to act.

Andrew Rodriguez: Penniless


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Works Cited Blair, Dorothy. “The Child In The Garden: An Evaluative Review Of The Benefits Of School Gardening.” Journal Of Environmental Education 40.2 (2009): 15-38. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. Crain, William. “Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.” Encounter 19.1 (2006): 47-48. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. Driessnack, Martha. “Children And Nature-Deficit Disorder.” Journal For Specialists In Pediatric Nursing 14.1 (2009): 73-75. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. Knapp, Clifford E. “Resource In Review.” Journal Of Environmental Education 40.2 (2009): 63- 64. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. Louv, Richard. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-deficit Disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin of Chapel Hill, 2008. Print. Ortega, Melba. Personal Interview. 24 Nov.2012. Van Den Berg, A. E. Van Den Berg, C. G. “A Comparison Of Children With ADHD In A Natural And Built Setting.” ChildCare, Health & Development 37.3 (2011): 430-439. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web. 27 Nov. 2012.


Phillip Rosales: Self Portrait



Dylan Gasaway Genesis Sculpture 98

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Carrie Escobar The Abandoned House I have asked myself many times passing this house, why do people find it scary? Why is this house abandoned? Why has this house been abandoned for so long? I feel like a child that just had to know, why? I walk bravely through the gate that hung on one nail. I notice the front door is covered with vines that hold the house captive. This makes the house even more mysterious. My hunger to see the inside grows more intense. I think for a moment, what could the inside look like if the outside is this bad? It must be terrible. I swing open the front door to see furniture that’s covering the floor in disarray. Snapshots of memories are torn, and frames are shattered and spread toward the wall. The smell of mold and dust fills the air, finding a spot in the back of my throat and choking me. A slight smell of copper fills my nose. Spider webs drape across each window. Flies stick to the walls, making an irritating buzzing noise around my head. Rats move in and out of trash in the corner of the room. I follow a line of roaches that lead me to the kitchen. In the kitchen, with my shoes stuck to the floor, I stand in a dried puddle of blood. The room still echoes of hate and anger. A dead rat covered with maggots lies on the sink counter. In the refrigerator, food is wrapped up like a mummy and has turned to stone; the smell takes my breath away. A table covered with ants brings dirt through the house. The stove is covered with a heavy coating of blood. The clock hanging over the stove is also splattered. It must have been devastating and brutal.What lies ahead for me has to be even worse. Seeing this makes me worry. Walking out of the kitchen, I see the hallway is covered with bloody handprints like a map leading me into the bedroom. The bedroom is dark with a bloody mess from floor to wall. Flesh matter sits in the middle of the bed and hangs off the sheets in strands. Shoes thrown on one side, clothing on another. There are remnants of boot prints around the room that are not mine. The windows are covered again with heavy splatter. There are fingerprints on the window sills. Rats come in and out for the feast that is settled on the bed and the floor. Whatever it was had to be finished in this room. It was savage, and almost not human. The house was so much worse than I could ever justify or comprehend. I have the thought and smell of the house burnt into memory. The front room couch that was tattered and torn, memory of the rats and trash, the kitchen and the blood stuck to 100

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my shoes that I will throw away and never wear again. Also, the copper smell in the bedroom that I can’t get out of my mind and still remains in my nose. I know now. All my questions from before have been answered about this abandoned house. As I left, I felt a sort of sadness and a presence of being watched. I took a glance back and saw a shadow rush by the window. Someone’s spirit still lives in that house, waiting for the next visitor. It was terrible.

Pam Baumgardner: Army of Freshman



Joshua Green Hell and Back When I was fifteen, I was sent to a private school in Washington State called “The Flying H Youth Ranch,” a 450-acre working cattle and alfalfa ranch, thirty miles from anywhere on the east side of Mt. Rainier. I was smack dab in the middle of “god’s country.” Hundred-foot pine trees as far as the eye can see. The pine trees were all there was to see during the forty-five minute final leg of our journey in a rickety, old twin-prop airplane. The airplane was so rickety that each time we made the journey from Seattle to Yakima, we were never quite sure if we would make it. What I initially feared worse than anything would become a year’s worth of memories and stories I would never forget, nor trade for anything! In my 9th grade year at Ventura High School, my grades and attitude towards life had become mirror reflections of each other: rippled, muddled, and not pleasant to look at. Because my Dad had raised me while being a single parent and as a best friend instead of a child, he had arrived at an absolute impasse of knowing what he could do to help. One month before the end of the school year when my Dad and I were at each others’ throats over my grades, he told me that I would be leaving in thirty days to go to school in the mountains of Washington State. “I fucking hate you, you mother-fucker!!!” I can still hear those words leaving my mouth and ringing in my ears. This was the first, and would be the only, time I’d spoken to my father and best friend with actual feelings of betrayal and resentment in my heart. Later, I would apologize and do my best to make good in the last thirty days before embarking on what would be, to date, the single largest adventure of my life! I cannot recall the exact day of the week, but one early morning in June at around 4:30 A.M., I remember waking up and getting out of bed to begin going about my morning routine as I would any day, but with feelings of utter disbelief at the 180 degree turn my life was about to take. We got in my dad’s Bronco and headed to Burbank. The plane boarded without a hitch by 7:45 A.M., we were in the air by eight, and I was back to sleep until Washington. We touched down around 10:30 on the Seattle International airport’s runway, (SEATAC they called it) and I remember thinking to myself that I had never been this far north before. We had about a two-hour layover at SeaTac before we would board the aforementioned rickety twin-prop plane. The plane ride from SeaTac to Yakima was much shorter than the flight from California. Once we touched down in Yakima, we collected our bags and then found our car rental service called “rent-awreck,” a name which, when the car was brought around, held a more accurate description than I cared for! The trip from Yakima to the ranch took us through about forty miles of winding mountain roads and one more dinky little town called Naches (Nah102

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cheez), named for a once indigenous tribe of Native Americans. We approached the gates to the ranch, which were down a small dirt road that turned off the highway. We drove through a large gate with a sign overhead that read, “FlyingH-Youth Ranch.” I remember all the mailboxes for the individual homes were all lined up at the gate off to the right. Driving in we saw large fields complete with cows and a barn to house their hay for feed. I would later on in the year have to dig a trench out of about three feet of snow with just one helper across roughly fifty yards of one the cow fields. It was, however, summer when we arrived. In the main field were piles of rocks all weighing a minimum of between five and twenty pounds each, stacked twenty yards or so apart from each other, with guys picking up as many rocks as they could carry and moving them from one pile to the next! “Will this soon be me?” I wondered. Come to find out, this was a disciplinary action that I would only mess up bad enough one time to have inflicted on me. Beyond the field was a river, then the highway, and a gigantic, glorious, awe-inspiring mountain range for a backdrop. Immediately it dawned on me that if I was to try and run, I’d have absolutely nowhere to go! The fields, lodge for housing, and cow barn that could be seen as we drove in were like the tip of an iceberg. To go along with the cow pasture, there were 3 separate alfalfa fields, the smallest of which was only about the size of an NFL game field. The others stretched two and a half, and nearly 300 yards long, respectively, and almost 100 yards wide each! We were made to move interconnecting twenty-foot sections of irrigation pipes left to right across the width, and to stretch them, end to end all along the alfalfa fields. Later during the end of the season when the alfalfa was over five feet tall, and some places were over my 6’2 head, I had gone out with one other guy to the far alfalfa field to turn off one well pump at the far end of the field and turn another on at the start of it. I have always had pretty bad seasonal allergies, so one might imagine a very allergic young man wandering through an alfalfa field and getting rather stuffy and having his eyes become irritated. I had volunteered for this assignment in trying to get positive points with the staff and at this point in my life, had never even taken one hit of marijuana. After Zach (the guy I had helping me) and I returned to the lodge from changing the pumps, two of the staff came over to ask if I had completed the task and with red eyes and sniffly nose told them, “Yeah man, we got it all done. Took some doing, but it’s done.” “Yeah? You sure you weren’t out there smoking pot?” They asked me dead seriously (this was after all a Christian, faith-based, non profit organization). I spent about five minutes reassuring them that we had not in fact been out there smoking pot. Getting back to the initial arrival and digestion of my situation, if all the physical work AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Joshua Green: Hell and Back I was piling up in my brain that would be tackled in the months to follow wasn’t bad enough, then there was the schoolhouse and all the scholastic wonders held within. There were four rooms, one of which was a classroom with a darkroom added on for photography classes. Pictures of Jesus with quotes from the bible adorned the walls. My English teacher, who at the time I would’ve sworn was a former Third Reich drill instructor, not only in class, but also when it came to sweeping and mopping floors, was named Patricia Fried. She drilled into our heads every day the parts of speech, I can still recall them by memory at any time: “am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been, have, has had, do, does, did, shall, will, should, would, may, might, must, can, could” also, “for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.” I won’t go into depth the subject matter of the other classes I was taking, suffice to say, they were mostly normal high school classes. The whole demeanor--the rhythm of the place if you will--was so different from anything I had experienced or known before. The ranch had a level of unfaltering discipline I’d not known at home. No ocean, no television or movies except for on special occasions. I went from having free reign of the house, getting to eat whatever, whenever I wanted, staying up as late as I wanted, using swear words like adjectives and verbs, to having very strict hours of operation. Specific times to eat, no swearing whatsoever (did I mention it was a Christian faith-based non-profit organization?), made to do school work, and in my spare time, only allowed to read books as entertainment. I did actually have a Gameboy with me, but when the only game you have to play is ‘Pokemon Blue,’ at some point “catching them all” loses some of its luster. The most important thing I took away from the school experience that year, or rather eleven months, three weeks, two days and some odd number of hours, minutes and seconds, (at one point I knew to the exact second how long it had been from the moment I had arrived, to the time the wheels of the airplane left the runway with me on board for the last time) was, that when isolated in an environment conducive to the character building of young men, I could excel further than I had any idea! I had always known I was smart; I had previously, and would continue all throughout high school to remain in the top 3% of all students in the country to complete the Stanford 9 standardized testing; specifically in the areas of language arts, reading comprehension, writing skills and the like, despite my poor classroom grades. When the choice came down to going outside in -10 degree weather (it snowed eight out of the eleven months I was there) to cut firewood and feed cows or stay inside and get homework done, ten out of ten times, my nose found its way to those books. Admittedly, I did not earn straight A grades during my time at the ranch. However, in comparison to my final report card at Ventura High, which read something along the lines of F, F, F, F, D; my grades of one A, three Bs and one C, were light years ahead of where I had been. This showed me, that 104

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Thadious Taylor: Floating in Space

Catherine Egan: Hens and Chicks



Joshua Green: Hell and Back when I actually applied myself and kept actively free of distractions, I could accomplish anything! I had my ups and downs while at the ranch. I made lots of new friends and some enemies, but I did my time, and feelings that had once been of disdain, resentment, or hatred of life and people in general were revamped with a new source of motivation. I learned how to appreciate the things and people that I do have in my life; also I learned to realize how important and crucial family is, how to love them and understand that, even if they were at the end of what they could give mentally, they never gave up loving me or believing in my abilities. I had been through hell and back, walked on the fiery coals of teenage angst, and had been transformed into someone who, while I had not yet found my passion in life, understood that when I did find it, no obstacle would get in my way. I’m a ranch-boy for life, and we get shit done.

Jennifer Vanwig: Untitled


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Pablo Chalett Mr. Alien



Alyssa Mendoza A Delicious Memory Some of my best childhood memories growing up have taken place in the kitchen. That also happens to be the place where my dad unwinds after a long day at work. Our kitchen is like a conference room in an office building for employees to meet with the boss. The boss is my dad, head of the household, and he is the best cook in town. During or after my homework assignments every night, he would call me downstairs. This was his way of letting me know dinner was done! After opening the door, I would immediately be welcomed by the scent of what was getting prepared. Dad and I bonded and made countless memories in the kitchen, whether it was through me helping out, or the two of us just enjoying each other’s company while he prepared dinner. There are a few things I must explain about my dad Sy, who is forty-six years old. Like many business people, there are two sides to him. There is the tough manager (who is the head honcho) of a car dealership in Los Angeles, and there is the laid back comedian who is a friend to everyone. There is definitely not a dull moment when Dad is around, no matter what the setting is. His laugh will automatically make you laugh. He is the type of person who makes any bad situation a good one. After a while, his “optimism rubbed off on me”; that’s what mom often says. Whether you are family, friend, or a complete stranger, Dad will welcome everyone with open arms and a big smile. That might be surprising to some people because of his physical, muscular build that makes him look tough. Well… I would say he is tough, for he is a retired martial arts kickboxing fighter. Dad is the type of guy anyone would love to have around; he stays humble and enjoys the simple things in life. Now for you to really understand how I see my dad and grasp what kind of personality he has, I’ll explain more about what he loves. My dad loves making food, eating food, and trying new foods. It’s not hard to believe once you see the “Buddha belly” that he has gotten over the years. The kitchen is his favorite place to be. I usually catch him in the kitchen enjoying a well-deserved glass of wine while watching The Sopranos from the small flat screen in the kitchen corner. During that time, my brother and I spend time talking to him about what happened at school, practice, or a game he might have missed because of work. At home in the kitchen, my dad and I have experienced a hundred memories of happiness. I have this vivid picture in my mind when I think about being in the kitchen with Dad. I remember sitting on the tall stool overlooking the large kitchen island, stainless steel refrigerator, and stove. I recall the sound of the ceiling fan above me and the TV 108

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on ESPN showing the Top 10 Highlights of the Day. When I looked over at the stove, I could see a flame on under the pot, and the lid of that pot was popping up and down with stream trying to escape into the air. I felt as if Dad thought he was a professional chef on his own Food Network show. In order for you to better understand my dad in the kitchen, I have to tell you about the unwritten, unspoken rules that exist there: 1) We can’t pick at the food before dinner is completely done, unless asked to taste test. This rule drives me crazy! It’s like being teased every time, and it usually makes me even hungrier. 2) The family eats dinner together, not in our rooms. 3) Everyone must give Dad his space in the kitchen. 4) Always clean as you cook. It makes it easier to enjoy our meal knowing we don’t have a big mess to clean up afterwards. 5) Make every time a good time. 6) You have to be a Lakers fan. I’ve grown up loving the Los Angeles Lakers. There hasn’t been a game that has gone by where the whole family didn’t wear the Lakers jerseys of our favorite players. My parents had been planning to move to the East Coast since I was in elementary school. I finally graduated from St. Bonaventure High School, and it was the right time for the big move. That also meant not bringing me along because I was going to be going to college here, in my hometown. So here it was, our last family dinner together. I had a feeling of excitement! I was going to be on my own. Not long after that, the excitement faded away and then came the fear of not being with my mom, dad, and little brothers every day. I didn’t quite know how tough it would be. I had become accustomed to being a Mommy’s girl, annoyed by my little brothers, and spoiled by daddy. My dad definitely didn’t let the family down --he made us a great last meal together. He made his famous shrimp scampi and béarnaise sauce atop the angel hair pasta, with mashed potatoes and cooked asparagus on the side. “Are you going to miss Sissy?” my mom sadly asked my little brothers. They both looked at me in a state of confusion. My brothers nodded their heads; it seemed like an unexpected amount of disappointment had just struck them. “It’s going to be so difficult without you guys around every day,” I explained to my family, almost in tears. I felt my body tense up; I was trying my best to stop myself from AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Alyssa Mendoza: A Delicious Memory having what felt like a nervous breakdown. My hands became sweaty from trying to keep myself together. Dad then assured me, “We will always be a phone call and a plane ticket away.” This made me feel so much better. I sighed in relief and enjoyed the rest of the dinner together. This dinner lasted longer than all the others previously; we didn’t want it to end. I consider myself blessed to have a dad like mine; he has taught me so much, and he has been there for me from the start. Sadly, life as I knew it was about to change forever. They are all my main supporters and number one fans for anything I do, whether it is varsity cheer, softball, or volleyball. I was more confident when I knew they were all there to support me. Our family dinners brought all of us together at the end of the day. I am so very appreciative that my dad always made it a point to have dinner together. I’m going to have that tradition when I have my own family someday. I couldn’t imagine growing up without it now. I know it seems so simple, but it meant the world to me, and it will be something I’ll never forget. Thank you, Dad! You always know what’s best, even if we did want to eat dinner in our rooms. I love and miss my family, especially Dad in the kitchen Erek Rostant: Bowl


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TOP: Andrew Duarte: Sunset Stripper BOTTOM: Julieanne Case: Blue Adirondack



Jesus Morales Muslims in the United States of America after 9/11 Muslims in America after 9/11 are oppressed and too often stereotyped as terrorists. As I researched Muslims in the infinite Internet, I was bombarded with mention of terrorist attacks, the uproar about the mosque at Ground Zero, and all the stereotypes the reporters have labeled Muslims with. I drew myself in more and more, trying to find that loophole that could bring out the greatness of the Muslim community, but what I began to realize is that the American people do not want to hear about it. In Lori Peek’s book, Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans after 9/11, she writes how the American people joined together to grieve, comfort, and aid each other. She also writes that Muslims who lived in the United States of America their entire lives could not join that community of sufferers. I am not an agent for Muslims or their beliefs. I just want to set the record straight! On September 11, 2001, I was stationed in Vicenza, Italy. It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining bright, with clouds floating through the sea of blue on the horizon. A couple of the guys and I were horsing around when my staff sergeant called me to his office. There I stood in amazement. I saw two airliners impaling the Twin Towers in New York City and a third that crumbled the Pentagon. With my emotions high, Threat Con-Delta went into full effect on our camp. I really would not feel the aftermath until February 2003, when I rolled into Iraq in convoy, and that would change my life forever. I was in 2/8 Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, assigned to fight and push through to conquer a major airfield, which would be in Balad, Iraq, now called Camp Anaconda. Along the way I met Muslim interpreters, workers, and Iraqi and Taliban prisoners. I struggled to figure out why we were in a different country fighting for Iraqi Freedom. The people there were so happy, nice, and helpful. Since coming back to the United States, I’ve seen hatred of the Muslims. Next to Ground Zero a mosque was being built, and the citizens of America were enraged. They were trying any and everything in their power to prevent it. Why? The stereotypes! In article after article journalists bashed the Muslim community for building a mosque one block from Ground Zero. Citizens argued that the mosque would overshadow the 9/11 memorial and that the mosque was un-American. I was lucky enough to see 60 Minutes, a television series that presented the story of this mosque. The mosque was built for children, prayers and all other Muslim needs, and their services were the same as any other church, Catholic, Protestant, or Mormon. Nikki Boertman wrote the article, “Nine Years after 9/11: Ugly anti-Muslim tide fouls U.S. shores,” in which she claims, “The 112

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same has not been the case with the mosque. Far from it. Entirely too many leaders have used the mosque’s dubious connection to Ground Zero as a way to stoke Islamophobia, either for political gain or because they’re so overwrought themselves that they’ve lost track of the obvious fact that few American Muslims are disciples of Osama bin Laden or ever will be -- unless pushed there by the discrimination that Islamophobes seek.” Not all Muslims are raised to fight jihad! I feel the Americans did not and still do not give the Muslim people a chance to prove themselves. From the article “U.S. Muslims reeling from ostracism,” author Stephan Sallsbury writes: The Maliks were the only Muslim family on their block. Neighbors on either side, sensing imminent local hostility, served to buffer and protect the family. It wasn’t enough. Two of Babar Malik’s daughters were attacked in 2002 as they walked home from school. They ran as a hail of blows and hateful names rained down on them. They are already labeled by the 2 battles with Iraq and Afghanistan. The real war just began for the Muslims to prove their innocence after all this distress. My investigation led me to two more terror incidents instigated by Americans. The number one incident was when a United States Army Muslim soldier threw a live grenade into a tent of US soldiers. He luckily injured the soldiers in the tent but did not kill any. The second incident that shocked me to the fullest was when a United States Army major opened fire on a crowd of soldiers leaving to Iraq from Fort Hood, Texas. Many soldiers died, and many more were injured. I am at a loss as to how American Muslim soldiers’ beliefs change over time in the military such that any would rather hurt their friends than fight in Iraqi Freedom. When I stood on Iraqi soil for the first time, my Rules of Engagement were to run over or fire at any threat with any means. I was scared and frightened. I did not speak the language, and hundreds of people surrounded the convoy. Any of them could have had explosives under their clothing (suicide bombers) or even IEDs (improvised explosive devices) lined down the road to dismantle our convoy. I learned how to speak the language as best as I could. I wanted to feel how the Iraqis felt about being treated as terrorists. I met many different types of Muslims and asked them questions or had my interpreter interpret for me. I learned that Muslims are very religious and take the Quran seriously. They are also fun-loving people. I transported prisoners with sandbags over their heads and zip ties breaking the skin AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Jesus Morales: Muslims in the United States of their wrists to a makeshift jail, where the jail was one room that was big enough for three detainees but was housing fifty or more people at once. After seeing these unreal conditions, I regularly sat with my interpreter, weapon at the ready, and talked, not about how the United States saved Iraq from Saddam, but about how some Americans treat Muslims as terrorists, not only in Iraq but in the States. At last, my research came to an end. In a speech to his nation on September 20, 2001, President Bush asked the question, “Why do they hate us?” His answer: “They hate what they see right here in this chamber, a democratically elected government . . . They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other” (“Text”). The government needed a scapegoat, and they found it in the Muslims all over the world. They did little to prevent the hate crimes against Muslims, as long as America was happy charging full force to war. Based on my own experiences with Muslims, they seem to deserve to be treated fairly and the same as any other Americans. What if the terrorists were Catholic? Would America abandon them as they did the Muslims? Isn’t it time to move on and let the Muslims feel their worth? Osama Bin Laden has passed into the afterlife, and the hatred for Muslim Americans should too. I know through all the hatred, love and peace will shine supreme. I also feel we should love our brothers and treat our brothers as we would like to be treated, no matter what skin color, race or religion, because we are all going to meet our maker and let Him be the one to bestow justice upon the wicked.

Works Cited Boertman, Nikki. “Nine years after 9/11: Ugly anti-Muslim tide fouls U.S. shores.” USA Today. USA Today, 9 Oct. 2010. Web. 11 Apr. 2013. Peek, Lori. Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans After 9/11. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2011. Print. Sallsbury, Stephan. “U.S. Muslims reeling from ostracism after 9/11.” N.p., 10 Sept. 2011. Web. 11 Apr. 2013. “Text: President Bush Addresses the Nation.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company, 20 Sept. 2001. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.


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TOP: Pablo Chalett: Pier 15 BOTTOM: Robert Huynh: 50’s Atmosphere



Laura Magana The Unspoken Dream: Trust, Love, and Respect A nightmare became my sweet dream. It was a cold, cloudy night, and I was in my mother’s room. I could see my reflection everywhere I turned; her closet doors were mirrors, her black bed-stand had mirrors on it, and behind her black dresser was a big half-circle mirror. Just my luck, she was standing by her door, and I felt trapped! All the fighting and screaming was making me go crazy. We were screaming in Spanish because if I had the courage to say something in English, she would scream with more anger, “Háblame en Español!” (“Talk to me in Spanish!”). Just as in any other mother-daughter relationship, we fought and argued, but on this night, after all the fighting, something different happened to me. I am thankful I had this nightmare because it has shaped the person I am today. This had been a gainful experience because I have trust and confidence within a mother-daughter relationship. I had a dream, but it wasn’t any ordinary dream. I dreamt about my mother’s life. I saw everything she had gone through, mainly the struggles of being a single mother and raising seven kids on her own. I didn’t just see it; I felt as if I were there. While I was asleep, I saw my mother falling asleep through my dream. As she was tired of struggling from being a single mother, she cried herself to sleep alone. She prayed to God above, the only one who truly knew how much pain she had, and the one who was always there no matter the day or time. She begged for him to give her strength. As tears went down her caramel skin, she covered herself with her soft green blanket, rested her head on her blue and white striped pillow, and lay in bed looking up to the pale white ceiling. While I witnessed my mother’s dream, I began to feel the intensity of her struggles. As I saw my mother dreaming, she began to speak to God. She began with a frustrating question. “Why do I have to take the long way?” my mother pleaded to God as she set her foot on the path of life. Then he whispered to her ear in a sweet soft voice, “I will guide you. I know the way is hard, but the end will be better than the beginning. Don’t worry. You are not alone.” My mother was stressed, and she found it hard to believe that things would get better. She did what she was best at, which is being a mother. She played with her children, fed them and bathed them, and taught them how to tie their shoes. She took them to church every Sunday morning, and she reminded them to feed the dog, do their homework, and brush their teeth. She knew she wasn’t perfect, but she tried the best 116

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Magen Gregory: Vitaque



Laura Magana: The Unspoken Dream she could. As the dream continued, the sun shone on her children, and my mother cried,”Father, please help me! I need to know that you are here for me.” He answered with a strong voice, “Just remember I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Suddenly I was telling myself in my dream, “Wake up! Wake up!” I tried to wake up, but I felt as stiff as a stone. I felt tears running down my cheeks; it was as if I were awake inside a dream. I just wanted to wake up and run to my mother and tell her, “I love you, Mom! Forgive me!” As my dream continued, I saw my mother struggling. Sometimes she didn’t have enough money to pay the bills, buy food, pay the rent, or sometimes she just felt weak. But one thing my mother never did was show us the struggles she faced. I didn’t wake up until the next morning, which was a bright, sunny day. I walked into my mother’s room, hugged her and told her, “I love you, Mom.” Five years later I still treasure this dream and its impact on me. This vision that happened so long ago has been more meaningful than any other dream that I have ever experienced. I respect and admire my mother more because of this dream. Through this unique dream, I saw all of the life sacrifices that she has made for my siblings and me; therefore, I avoid arguing with her. I have never spoken about my dream to anyone. I honestly believe that the possible reason why I have kept it to myself for the past five years is because this dream impacted me forever. When my mom and I start to disagree on any issue, there’s a change within a split second that signals me to not argue. Now that I’m older and time has passed, I acknowledge the strength that my mother has had to raise our family. The rewarding result of this dream is the trust and confidence that lies between my mother and me. This will always be treasured in my heart and in my soul.

Mara Patrick: Reclining Nude


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Aaron Cruz: Old Boy



Jacob Wyman: Ruiz Portrait


2013 VC Voices




Leeanna Rhodes Essay on Nationalism “Our job is a serious one and we have the most capable soldiers, who will do anything to defend this country. We are not like the rebels, those riffraffs who kill people for no reason. We kill them for the good and betterment of this country.” Leaders used Nationalism to conjure up hate in the minds of little boys, turning them into mass murderers, or as they referred to them: the best of soldiers. As seen in a movie during class, Hitler convinced children to go against their parents, the ones who raised them and protected them from day one, to fight for the “betterment of [the] country” (Triumph). These children did not understand why they were in combat, or even what they were fighting for. There was no logic in the matter to be found. Ishmael Beah, like these young ones, fought and followed orders from a delusional commander. They didn’t understand the consequences; they thought that they would be deemed heroes. Killing was a game to them, not a reality. The irony of both these situations is that their opponents also fought for “the betterment of [the] country.” Both could see that it wasn’t a valid reason for the opponents to use, but they couldn’t see that it wasn’t valid for them to use either. Hitler’s followers were so brainwashed because of propaganda and Ishmael Beah and his colleagues were so high off of drugs, they were unable to rationalize the simplest of things: they were just as wrong as their opponents. As they were the irrational killers of the past, Terrorism is the irrational killer of today. Al Qaeda feels that democracy is a threat to the radical Islam. Because the United States is the father of democracy, they drove passenger planes straight into our Twin Towers and Pentagon, killing hundreds of innocent people, on September 11, 2001. They feel that they need to destroy democracy by first destroying us, even though we have done absolutely nothing to them. Our destruction will be “for the betterment” of the Islam faith; therefore, it is necessary. We the people know that this is a ridiculous conclusion; however, the followers of Al Qaeda are completely secluded in their own world. They have been convinced that God commands them to commit such murders. And like the hypnotized Nazis of Germany, for them, death and destruction is a way of life and the only path to success, which is why they are the “riffraffs” of today “who kill people for no reason.”


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Works Cited Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. Print. Triumph of the Will = Triumph Des Willens. Dir. Leni Riefenstahl. Phoenix Films, 1934.

Austi V. Campbell: Kicking my own Ass



Evan Funnell Woe is Me. Poor Poor Pitiful Cory: Do They Think That My Stool Does Not Stink?

Whenever I enter town People turn green And sycophantic If only they could know Inside I’m all alone It’s not me but My means they love And for this My days are doomed To be empty The women all succubae My house a gilded cage The men all try to emulate My every move the rage It’s truly a strange feeling To be lonely But never left alone And for precisely this reason My death I make my own


2013 VC Voices

Gary Rodriguez: Under Water Delight (Detail)

Austi V. Campbell: Kicking my own Ass

Andrew Rodriguez: RIP Billy



Daniel Chavez Teeth The day had been just like any other. Just like the day before and the day before that besides from the fact that it was another day. It was a Sunday. I was walking along the Santa Clara Riverbed when I saw a pair of teeth protruding from the dry-moist sand. At first I did not recognize them as teeth. I had stopped for a drink of water. And I was looking at the direction of the ground. Just looking in that direction. My eyes began to focus and the bright objects before me became clearer and that is when I saw them. I knew it was a person. A dead person. I knew it was a set of teeth. Someone had been buried here. The police, the investigators, whoever they were, asked me a lot of questions. Questions like what I was doing there in the first place. I told them I was studying the area much like they were doing now, except for the fact that I was not studying it for a crime. I am a geologist I told them, so that should explain what I was doing there. “So you were studying the geology of the area then?” “Yes sir, I was.” “Is that all you were doing here?” “That is all, sir.” They got my information and let me go. They told me if they needed any further information they would contact me. “That is fine,” I said. On the way to my truck, I wondered about who might be buried there and how that person came to rest in that spot, unknown to anyone, apparently, but to myself, the police, and the perpetrator or perpetrators who committed this atrocious action to the memory of their souls and consciousness. I couldn’t think of this for too long, though, or else it would begin to make me sick. I can’t think of things like this for too long without reaching an answer or some kind of explanation. It makes me feel ill. I thought a beer and a cigarette would soothe my thirsty soul and my soul seemed to agree, judging by the strong impulse to go to the store and buy the cigarettes and beer. It was evening now, and the sun was about to set. I sat outside my house, drinking from the beer and smoking from the cigarette. Thoughts of the teeth flashed through my head. One tooth, two tooths, three tooths. They all exhibited themselves to me like relics from the past. Showing their past glory which now had been relegated to a spot in the dirt. I didn’t want to preoccupy myself with this question because I did not have an answer for it and I do not like not having an answer to a question. It just makes me feel incompetent and I don’t particularly like that feeling. It is similar to looking at a tree and knowing what a tree is but not knowing what the name of that tree is although 126

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you know what a “tree” is. Philosophically speaking. The phone rang. I took a drag from my cigarette, threw it down on the ground, stepped on it, put it out, walked up the steps, opened the screen door, and went inside. It was my mother. She called to ask if I wanted to go to a family barbecue. I said I didn’t know. She said they were having carne asada. She said it was happening at my dad’s place. We said our goodbyes and hung up. Carne asada sounds good, I thought. Carne asada is beef. Beef can be gotten from cow. You can eat almost all parts of a cow. Its tongue, its jaws, its eyes, its teeth. I went back outside. The day was Mediterranean as it always is here on the coast of California. Especially in Santa Paula. Sometimes the sun really bakes the place. Other times, the clouds come in from the west in Ventura and carry the water from the ocean to Santa Paula, and so they bring along the coolness with them. Back inside, I went to my room and looked for a book to read. I have quite a collection of books. Some are stacked in rows; others are spread and sprawled all over the room, on top of my bed, on the floor, etc. The teeth were in my head, as if they were biting on my brain and wouldn’t let go, so I roamed around my books to see if I could find anything related to crime and things of this nature. Luckily for me, I did have a book about Criminology. I had a few, actually. I had one called Criminal Investigation. I had another called Encyclopedia of Criminology. And I had another one called Criminal Investigation. This last one had a section about teeth so I chose this one. I laid myself on the bed and made myself cozy. The pictures of the teeth I saw in the book reminded me of the teeth that protruded from the sand. There was something about those images that defied definition. Who was this person? The teeth would know. The teeth knew it all. Not the investigators. The teeth did. The beer was really good. The teeth. I think of the teeth. I think of what they are made of; how they got there, who put them there, where is the person or persons who put them there, and why did he or she or they put them there. The beer is really good. Some more would be good. I think of murder. I think of a murder and murderers. I think of a gun that killed the person. I think of the saw that cut the person into pieces. I think of the knife that killed the person. I think of the rope that was used to do it. I think of the blow that did it. I think of the murderer. What murderer? Who is the murderer? Where did he or she or they go? What did the person do to deserve this? I think of natural death. Natural murder. Natural dying. Natural death. Teeth don’t just get to a spot like that. Something happened and I all I know about it is that someone is dead. Has been dead. Got killed. Was carried there. Buried. In the night. There. I found it. AN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Daniel Chavez: Teeth The phone rang again. It was the police. They said an investigator was on the way to my place. Detective Will Dens arrived in his black Mercury. He was dressed casually but very professional. His suit matched the color of his car. He reminded me of the movie Men in Black. I greeted him warmly. “I thought you were investigating a murder. It looks like you are looking for some aliens.” He smiled and got the joke. “Is there some UFO activity around here also?” “That’s a whole ‘nother story, partner,” I said cheerfully and extended my hand. His handshake was strong and warm. I could feel the heat of his blood. “How about a drink?” “Sure.” I invited him in and we walked to the bar I have in the house. I made him my specialty: micheladas. “I hope you like this,” I said with a grin. I put three ice cubes into his glass, dropped some rock salt in there, squeezed juice from fresh cut limes, and carefully poured Corona beer in, making sure I got the least amount of foam possible on the crown of the class. I mixed it well and served it to him. I made the same for me. “Cheers.” We both drank a good amount from our glasses and gasped from the delicious taste. Will liked it, too. “That is darn good!” “Thank you. They’re my specialty. It’s all I drink, really. I’ll have a German-styled beer now and then...” “So what were you doing at the riverbed?” “As you know, I was not there in search of a jaw or teeth. I was doing some research on the riverbed. I stopped to rest, and for no particular reason at all, I was looking in the direction of where I saw the teeth. I did not see them at first. My eyes adjusted themselves, and then they focused, I saw the teeth. Perhaps it was divine intervention or something like that, you know?” I mixed myself another drink and gulped that down. I gasped with pleasure and I continued. “Perhaps I was supposed to find the teeth. I called the police, and here we are now.” “Did you see anything or anyone suspicious before you got to the spot?” “No. I didn’t. I was the only one around.”


2013 VC Voices

Devan Muchmij: I am Art



Daniel Chavez: Teeth Apparently that was the only thing he could ask me because he didn’t say anything else. All he did was look thoughtful. “How about some food, huh?” I offered. I know a great place in town. It’s on me.” We went down to a local market known as El Burrito Market. They have a delicious Mexican restaurant in the back. Will didn’t know what to get so I ordered him some tacos. I got the same. The tacos were delicious. They serve them in small tortillas. They were made of beef with bits of diced onions, cilantro, and green chili sauce spread over the inside of the tacos. He mentioned he’d never had carne asada tacos before. “You can also have cow tongue tacos,” I told him. This made me think of cow teeth. It even made me think of goat teeth. It got me thinking of cow death. This meat was alive at one point in time and now it was dead meat. Dead for humans to consume. Their death gave us life. I heard the cow’s moo. I looked at my tacos and then I looked at Will. “Will. What is death to you? How do you, being a detective, look at death?” “Death is what happens when you die,” Will responded. “That’s it? That’s all it is to you?” He looked at me confused. “What else could it be?” “I don’t know, “I said and bit into my taco. I didn’t want to say more about this because I felt it would sound mysterious or suspicious. The tacos and the beer made Will groggy so he excused himself, saying he would call me later. At that moment, a woman walked into the market. A real bombshell. She had slick black hair down to her shoulders and she was wearing a black dress-skirt type thing that revealed her smooth legs with black leather boots and a dark blue sweater tied around her waist that made her look good enough to eat. She had deep brown eyes like a cat. Death left my head and Life spoke up. “Hey, how’s it going?” I said. “Very good. How are you?” She had a great smile. “Very good. Thanks. I just had some really good tacos. Exactly what I needed after drinking micheladas. Do you like micheladas?” “Yeah, I love those!” “What are you having?” “I’m getting some tacos to go.” “Do you work around here?” “Yeah, I do. My family owns a ranch on the outskirts of town.” “Oh, really. What kind of ranch is it?”


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“It’s a horse ranch. We breed and sell horses.” “How interesting. My name is John. I’m a geologist.” “Oh, really? That’s wonderful. I’m Stacy. Nice to meet you.” She had these great white teeth that were just so healthy. I had to take a chance. “Hey. Would you like to have those tacos at my place? I have a bar and those tacos will taste so much better with a michelada. I guarantee it.” I wanted to get laid and at the same time I really wanted to know this woman. Her face betrayed her true wishes. “I don’t know.” I smiled with my teeth. Something I do when I really want to look impressive. “I’m telling you, those tacos will taste better with those drinks...” A grin and then an inhibited smile flashed across her face. She hesitated. Thought about it. “Okay.” “Great. Follow me.” She got into a dirty red Ford pickup truck. She looked so darn good. “Ready!” She really liked my home. She liked how I live near this great mountain and how the river was just a walk away. “The mountain is called South Mountain. Steve McQueen lived not too far from here, actually.” We went inside and I made her a drink. I made myself one, too. “Oh, you were right about the beer and the tacos!” “I told you so!” “Hey. You know what happened to me while I was doing some research at the river bed today? “No, what?” “I found a pair of teeth. Apparently a pair of human teeth.” This really hooked her attention. I explained everything I knew about it and she listened in wonderment. “Can I see your teeth?” I asked. “Why?” “Because I want to see your teeth.” “Let me see yours first,” she said. “Okay.” I opened my mouth and grinned to stretch my cheeks wide. “You need to floss, John,” Stacy said. This made me burst into laughter for a few seconds. “You need to floss and rinse your teeth.” She looked at me seriously.



Daniel Chavez: Teeth “Okay. Now let me see yours.” She showed me. “Your teeth are really white. What do you do to them?” “I brush, wash and floss them,” she said proudly. “That’s really good.” She was so alive. There was something about her that sparkled with that energy of life. She was so pretty to me. Her whole face beamed with energy and she made want to react. I kissed her on the lips. She was surprised but she did not stop me. Our teeth would sometimes bang against each other. We had breakfast the next morning at a local coffee shop. The day was extraordinarily beautiful. The sun transformed everything into gold. Stacy went inside to get the coffee and bagels and when she returned she handed me the newspaper. “Look.” She dropped the newspaper in front of me. TEETH FOUND IN RIVER. And there was a picture of the teeth in the sand in the same position I had found them. We drove back to my house after breakfast. I made us some drinks and we sat outside to bask in the sun. “Over there is where I found the teeth,” I remarked. I pointed towards the foothills. She gazed. “You know,” I said, “I have this uncle who once said that if he ever went missing and a body was found, the way to identify him was his teeth. He pulled his lips apart to show me. His teeth were worn and decayed from years of drug use and whatever else make teeth look so rotten.” She listened to me carefully. “My family had someone like your uncle. He was so happy and youthful but he did a lot of drugs.” She looked at her glass of beer. “He died,” she said. “Of an overdose. But in every picture we have of him, he has this great smile on his face.” I spoke again. “When I saw my uncle’s teeth, it made me see how life and death are interconnected. How death and life are really masks.” “Masks of what?” “Masks of the truth hidden behind these masks: that life and death are the same energy. The same force.” I looked away to the foothills. Towards the riverbed which wasn’t far from where we were. And the teeth smiled.


2013 VC Voices

Nathan Britton: M.O.D.O.K. 3D



Brandon Talmadge GMO Food Labeling “How can we teach children about nutrition while we continue to peddle soda, chips, and candy in our schools?” asks public health attorney Michele Simon in her book Appetite For Profit (xvii). Soda and sweets are almost guaranteed to contain genetically modified ingredients, either in the form of corn syrup or beet sugar (Philpott). An estimated 60–70% of all processed foods in the United States contain genetically engineered products but not all foods are labeled as such (Dahl). This is mainly due to the lack of government regulation on these types of food. Currently, there is no legislative labeling requirement on genetically altered foods and therefore, no clear information regarding which products contain them. All foods with genetically modified organisms should be required to have labels because without this information, there is no real way to know what products contain them. Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are living organisms that have been altered genetically in a process that doesn’t occur naturally. The genetic material, or DNA, is engineered in such a way that allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, and also between non-related species (World Health Organization). The techniques, which have been perfected in laboratories over the past 40 years, include bombarding target cells with heavy metals coated with the gene to be transferred, using a naturally-occurring bacterium to transfer genes into the host cell, and using a pulse of electricity to introduce genes into the targeted cell (McClure). The most controversial applications of genetic modification, or biotechnology, involve the use of animals and the transfer of genes from animals to plants (Kunkle and Luccia). GMOs were first introduced commercially in the mid-1990s and have expanded worldwide because of their crop farming advantages. These genetic alterations give the farmers’ crops the advantages of genetically-enhanced resistance to drought, herbicides, and insects (Dahl). Jason McClure, correspondent for Thomson Reuters and writer for CQ Researcher, states that the use of GM crops has become so widespread among growers of commodities in the United States that 88 percent of corn and 90 percent of soy came from GM strains in 2012. With percentages like these, the odds are highly likely that nearly every American eats some sort of product with GMOs every day. McClure notes the two genetic engineering technologies that dominate the GMO farming industry: the introduction of genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thurengiensis (Bt) and engineering of crops modified to be able to survive the weed-killer glyphosate, commonly sold under Monsanto’s Roundup brand. Unfortunately, Americans cannot determine which foods come from crops that have been genetically altered by label information alone. 134

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Chad Kidwell: Switchbacks



Brandon Talmadge: GMO Food Labeling Although these engineering processes serve to benefit farming methods, there is much ethical and political debate on the repercussions of their implementation. Joel Salatin, American farmer, writer, and lecturer who has become a leading voice in the fight against industrial farming, writes “If we step back and let nature teach us, we will learn all we need to know. The more we try to trick, shortcut, or adulterate these processes, the less productive and efficient nature will be.” Director Deborah Koons Garcia emphasizes GMOs’ controversial production processes in her film, Future of Food, showing that a generation ago a farmer would seed a crop and use an herbicide when necessary, but often they wouldn’t use the herbicide; today you have a crop that, right as it goes into the ground, is designed to be sprayed. Several in-depth analysis reports by independent panels convened by the National Academy of Sciences have broadly concluded that due to extreme production and the amounts of GMOs currently grown in the United States, there is now less use of pesticides and more targeted insect control (qtd. in Mestel “In Defense”). But at what cost? Seed-producing giant Monsanto has engineered a corn that is actually referred to as “Bt Corn” for the insect killing Bacillus thurengiensis. The corn itself is registered as an insecticide because every cell has been engineered to contain a natural bacterial toxin (Future of Food). Not a very settling fact, considering there is no way to rid the corn of the bt since it is now incorporated into the actual DNA of the plant. Without proper labeling information, there is no way to real way to determine which foods are natural and which are genetically altered. Altogether, 61 countries already have some form of mandatory labeling requirements for foods containing genetically modified ingredients (Imhoff and Dimock). GMO food in the United States, however, still remains mostly unlabeled in stores. Americans deserve the right to know what’s in their food. A recent poll performed by a leading research firm, The Mellman Group Inc., shows that Americans do, in fact, want to know. Mellman concluded that over 90 percent of American consumers want to know what foods are made with GMOs. Even after hearing arguments from both sides, 89 percent still want genetically engineered foods to be labeled (Mellman). Food labeling is supposed to provide consumers with accurate information about products so they can make their own informed choices. The current United States food labeling standards, however, do not. The companies that sell genetically modified seeds and manufactured foods argue that American consumers don’t need such detailed labels. They say, “Just trust us” (Imhoff and Dimock). Large seed and big food corporations recently began a multi-million dollar campaign against the labeling of GMO foods in California. They feel that consumers will stop buying their products if they know 136

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they contain genetically modified ingredients. But Rick Tolman, chief executive of the National Corn Growers Association, said after meeting with food executives this month that he had the “strong impression” that they would rather reformulate their ingredients than label their products genetically engineered. “They think a label will undermine their brand,” he said (qtd. in Pollack and Harmon). Marion Nestle points out in her book, Food Politics, “Whether nutrition professionals are compromised by support from food companies is a troubling issue, but an even more troubling question is whether corporate sponsorship affects the conduct of nutrition research or its results” (116). The opposing side of GMO labeling requirements argue that if such legislation were to pass, the costs would be reflected on the grocery bill per household annually by hundreds. GMO labeling opponent group, “No on 37” commissioned a study stating that swapping out ingredients would increase Californians’ annual food costs by $350-400 (qtd. in Jargon and Berry). On the other hand, Joanna Shepherd-Bailey, Ph.D., Professor at Emory University School of Law, in a recent assessment on the economic impact of California’s Prop 37, argues that although there would be there would be minor litigation expenses and negligible administrative costs, there would be little or no change in consumer food prices as a result of relabeling expenses. Shepherd-Bailey found that the one-time average per-product cost to manufacturers of redesigning all food labels is $1,104, which represents only 0.03% of annual per product sales, and that the one-time average per-store cost of placards disclosing genetic engineering will be $2,820, or about 0.1% of the annual sales in the average supermarket. In a worst-case scenario, even if all of these costs were passed on to consumers, this amounts to a mere $1.27 one-time increase in the total annual food expenditure for the average household in California. And this is an overestimate, since not all products will require GE labeling. Furthermore, David Byrne, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, states that when Europe started its GMO labeling requirements in 1997, it did not result in increased costs despite the horrifying (double-digit) cost predictions of some interests. Although the use of GMOs is widespread, Tadlock Cowan, analyst in Natural Resources and Rural Development, claims there are there are some major concerns associated with the use of GMOs. Cowan believes there are two main environmental issues. One is the transfer of the introduced genes to wild plants, and non-GMO plants, and the second issue involves the indirect effects of the genetically engineered crops themselves on the local environment. Cowan goes on the state that aside from the cross contamination issues to producers who do not want to have altered crops, and there is also concern that the introduced genes can lead to herbicide and pesticide resistance in nonAN ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WORK | VENTURA COLLEGE


Brandon Talmadge: GMO Food Labeling target species. Weed scientist Mike Owen of Iowa State University in Ames, reports that problem weeds like waterhemp and Palmer pigweed are developing resistance to Roundup throughout the United States, undercutting the usefulness of Roundup ready crops (qtd. in Mestel “In Defense”). Owen saw the same thing happen with older herbicides used for conventional crops and believes the root cause is the same reason as before: overuse of one chemical (qtd. in Mestel “In Defense”). In addition to the environmental concerns, there is also much debate on the health risks associated with GMOs. Although there haven’t been substantial evidence supporting health risks or benefits either way, there have been recent studies on the known health risks of genetically modified foods. According to Gilles-Eric Seralini, a professor at the University of Caen in France, rats that were fed genetically modified corn, engineered to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup, developed health problems, including tumors and trouble with their livers and kidneys (qtd. in Mestel “Study Points”). GMO labeling is much more complex than simple preferences or likes and dislikes. There are also concerns about the use of GMO food production and their possible allergic reactions to a genetically transferred gene or protein, according to Elizabeth Kunkle and Barbara Luccia, authors of “Genetically Modified Foods” in Nutrition and Well-Being A-Z. For example, if a gene from Brazil nuts that produces an allergen were transferred to soybeans, an individual who is allergic to Brazil nuts might now be allergic to soybeans (Kunkle and Luccia). Unfortunately, there is still too much unknown about the long-term health effects of eating GMOs. Regardless, every consumer still has the right to know what kinds of foods they are eating and feeding to their families. Without sufficient labeling that clearly states which products contain scientifically altered ingredients, choosing between natural and genetically modified cannot be easily accomplished. Furthermore, food companies should be responsible for providing this information since they are the ones that are providing Americans with their food.

Works Cited Byrne, David. ”Proposal for Regulation on GM Food and Feed.” European Parliament. Brussels. 11 September 2001. Lecture. Web. 26 Oct. 2012. Cowan, Tadlock. Congressional Research Service. Department of Agriculture. “Agriculture Biotechnology: Background and Recent Issues.” National Agriculture Law Center. Department of Agriculture, June 2011. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. Dahl, Richard. “To Label or Not to Label.” Environmental Health Perspectives: Spheres of Influence 120.9 (2012): A358-361. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. 138

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Future of Food. Dir. Deborah Koons Garcia. Perf. Charles Benbrook, and Grace Booth. Lily Films, 2004. Film. Imhoff, Daniel, and Michael R. Dimock. “The Case for Prop 37.” Los Angeles Times, 11 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. Jargon, Julie and Ian Berry. “Dough Rolls Out to Fight `Engineered’ Label on Food.” Wall Street Journal, 25 Oct. 2012. Web. 26 Oct 2012. Kunkle, Elizabeth M., and Barbara H. D. Luccia. “Genetically Modified Foods.” Nutrition and Well-Being A to Z. Ed. Delores C.S. James. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan Reference USA. (2004): 245-248. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. McClure, Jason. “Genetically Modified Foods: Should Labels be Required?” CQ Researcher 22.30 (2012) Web. 25 Oct. 2012. Mellman, Mark. “Voters Overwhelmingly Support a Labeling Requirement for GEFoods.” The Mellman Group Inc., 17 Apr. 2012. Web. 28 Oct. 2012. Mestel, Rosie. “Study Points to Health Problems with Genetically Modified Foods.” Los Angeles Times, 20 Sept. 2012. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. ---. “In Defense Of Modified Foods.” Los Angeles Times, 25 Oct. 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. Nestle, Marion. Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. Berkeley: University of California, 2007. Print. Pollack, Andrew, and Amy Harmon. “Battle Brewing Over Labeling of Genetically Modified Food.” New York Times, 24 May 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. Philpott, Tom. “Could This Election Kill Monsanto’s Seeds?” Mother Jones 37.6 (2012): 5-7. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. Shepherd- Bailey, Joanna, Ph.D. “Economic Assessment: Proposed California Right To Know Genetically Engineered Food Act (Prop 37).” n.d. Web. 2 Nov. 2012. Salatin, Joel. Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World. New York: Center Street, 2011. Print. Simon, Michele. Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back. New York: Nation Books, 2006. Print. World Health Organization. World Health Organization. WHO, 2012. Web. 22 Oct. 2012.




2013 VC Voices

V CV OIC ES 2013

a compilation of Ventura College student art and writing from the 2012-2013 school year. Back cover painting: Jaime Susan: Fruit

Š 2013/ ventura college liberal arts department

VC Voices 2013  
VC Voices 2013