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Introduction to Volume 5, Issue 1

Introduction to The York Scholar, a collection of essays from the College-Wide Writing Program.

Michael J. Cripps
Karin A. Wolf

We are privileged to present the fifth volume of The York Scholar. The first volume of The York Scholar was published five years ago with the goal of providing a wider audience with exposure to the exciting research being done by the students in The College-Wide Writing Program. Since then The York Scholar has been also been published online and added to the York College Library databases of periodicals. The student essays published in The York Scholar are now frequently used in Writing 300 courses as models for students beginning work on their own research projects, which may one day be published in these pages. Publication in The York Scholar has become a source of great pride for the students whose work has been chosen to be included in these volumes. Of course, many other quality research projects have been, and continue to be, produced by students in the Writing 300 courses and in other writing intensive and discipline-based research courses. We regret that we cannot publish many more of these essays to share with York College community and our ever wider audiences.

The York Scholar publishes essays produced by students in the 300-level research writing courses offered by The College-Wide Writing Program. Students have a choice of one of three courses offered in this independent program. Writing 301 (Research and Writing for the Major) serves students in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Writing 302 (Research and Writing for the Sciences) serves students in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Students in all other majors and programs, including York’s ever expanding health programs, are usually enrolled in Writing 303 (Research and Writing for Professional Programs). These students include those enrolled in the Nursing, Occupational Therapy, and Physician Assistant programs, a few of York’s very popular degree programs in the health sciences.

Students in Writing 300 classes choose a research topic that interests them. Through a hands-on research process, students are guided as they formulate and narrow a research question. They learn to locate and become familiar with academic resources in their disciplines, including peer- reviewed journals, specialized reference books, electronic databases, and professional and academic web resources. Many of these students also learn to utilize specialized libraries in their disciplines. Students learn to analyze and synthesize source materials as they apply critical thinking skills to use these resources to develop their own arguments. They develop skills for reading complex materials, annotating them, and using quotes, summaries, and paraphrases from the materials judiciously to support their own ideas. After they outline and draft their papers, they receive feedback from their professors and their peers that will guide them through a rigorous revision process. Students ultimately produce a final draft of their paper using the appropriate academic format for their respective disciplines. It is a collection of these final drafts that we proudly present in The York Scholar.

The purpose of this journal is to share the ideas and showcase the talents and hard work of our student researchers. The wide range of topics in these papers reflects the diverse student community at York College and the global concerns and interests of many of our students. These papers have been selected because they reflect the quality of research, analysis, critical thinking, and writing that sets the standard for students in York’s upper-division research writing courses of The College-Wide Writing Program.

This year The York Scholar is being presented in two issues, each consisting of three student essays. The first two essays in this issue (Volume 5, Issue 1) deal with educational issues. Linda Campbell’s essay, “ESL Programs and the American Dream,” examines the effectiveness of ESL programs in enabling immigrants to obtain the education necessary to secure and advance in good jobs. Ms. Campbell examines factors that can affect the pace of learning, the role of teachers in the learning process, and the customization of ESL programs in order to assess ways to make ESL programs more effective. Drawing on information from academic journals and academic books on ESL education, Ms. Campbell first outlines the current problems in ESL education and obstacles to the improvement of ESL programs. The essay focuses on the need for increased funding to train teachers properly and the need for customization of ESL programs to specific ethnic and language groups to facilitate learning. The essay reaches the conclusion that interaction among the various ethnic groups that live in America can only be achieved through sharing a common language. Therefore, in order to help immigrants achieve the American dream and integrate into the American culture, improved ESL programs are essential.

The second essay in this issue, written by Gaell Jocelyn-Blackman, asks the question, “How Are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youths Affected by Discrimination and What Can Schools Do to Help?” The essay shows how discrimination leads to increased high school drop out rates for LGBT youths and, of even greater concern, increased rates of suicide and substance abuse. Ms. Jocelyn-Blackman gives examples to show how the schools and parents often contribute to the discrimination that causes these problems. This student researcher draws on information from academic journals in the field of education and on organizations like Human Rights Watch and P-Flag that monitor and address issues of discrimination. The essay goes on to show how the physical, verbal, and emotional abuse endured by these young people affects them psychologically and often disrupts their education. Ms. Jocelyn-Blackman attempts to convince parents and teachers to abandon their own biases in order to foster the well being of LGBT youths who are struggling with their own identities and in desperate need of acceptance and support in order to complete their education and go on to live satisfying and productive lives.

The last essay in this issue examines a topic that affects developing countries around the world. Student researcher Nikeisha Stephens asks, “Do Remittances Spur Development in Social Services?” Her essay focuses on analyzing whether the money sent by immigrant workers to relatives in their native countries offsets the negative effects caused by skilled workers leaving their native countries to pursue better opportunities and higher paying jobs in developed countries like the United States and Great Britain. The essay demonstrates that the loss of well-educated and highly skilled professionals depletes the human resources necessary for development in many countries around the world. It goes on to show that the loss of tax revenues from these workers actually causes a decrease in social services that cannot be matched by the money they send back to their families. The information for this essay is gathered from news sources around the world, academic journals, and international organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank. The writer uses this information to show that although developed countries benefit from the influx of skilled professionals, the countries these professionals leave are affected negatively in many ways. One of the most serious consequences involves the health care sector where the lack of physicians, nurses, and other professionals leaves developing countries unable to deal effectively with serious health problems like the spread of AIDS.

We thank these student researchers for their informative and thought-provoking essays. We hope that these essays will open conversations among faculty members about the quality and impact of student research at York and ways that we can all support our students in their endeavors. For students, these essays can provide models for their own research and encourage them to produce work that they will be proud to submit for consideration for publication in future volumes of The York Scholar.

The cover of this issue of The York Scholar features Kyle Dabrowski’s photograph of “Build-Grow,” a stainless steel sculpture by Richard Hunt that can be found at one of the entrances to York College. This cover represents the second time The York Scholar has featured student art. We look forward to continuing this emerging tradition and invite student artists and photographers to submit their work for the covers of future issues of The York Scholar.

We extend our thanks to all those who make the publication of The York Scholar possible: the Office of Academic Affairs, the Auxiliary Enterprises Corporation, York College Printing Services, the Web Team, and the faculty and staff of The College-Wide Writing Program.