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Introduction to Volume 5, Issue 2

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

We are privileged to present the fifth volume of The York Scholar. The first volume of The York Scholar was published almost five years ago with the goal of providing a wider audience with exposure to the exciting research being done by 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 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 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’s Assistant programs, a few of York’s very popular degree programs in the health sciences.

Students in Writing 300 classes choose a research topic in their major 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 while avoiding plagiarism. 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.

New this year, The York Scholar is presented in two issues, each consisting of three students essays. The three essays in this issue (Volume 5, Issue 2) deal with topics related to social and health issues. The first essay, written by Genesis Belle, is titled “Can the African-American Diet Be Made Healthier Without Giving Up Culture? A Look at the Problem and Solutions.” Ms. Belle’s essay examines the importance of soul food to African-American culture and the health problems that are prevalent in the African-American community due to the consumption of this high fat and high sodium diet. Her research reveals some of the myths about soul food and its cultural significance and shows how soul food today is actually influenced more by the processed foods prevalent in today’s western culture than by the diet of their African slave ancestors who ate more whole foods and fresh foods rather than the fried, high calorie foods that are considered soul food today. The paper concludes by showing how traditional soul food can be prepared in healthier ways so that the culture can be preserved while the negative health effects are ameliorated. Ms. Belle gathers her information from a variety of news sources as well as medical journals.

The next essay in this issue, written by Tamar Mungo, asks “What Were Some of the Responses of the Black Community in South Carolina during the Period of Reconstruction (1865-1870) to the Many Challenges They Encountered in Securing Their Civil Rights?” Ms. Mungo investigates the many ways in which the Black citizens of South Carolina used the government to fight back against the white supremacists who tried to prevent them from voting, getting an education, and having the right to own land. This essay outlines the many ways that white supremacists sought to prevent Blacks from gaining their full rights as citizens. She shows how the intelligence and perseverance of these oppressed people eventually helped them win the rights they sought. They used the very system of government that others were trying to use to deny them their rights in order to secure those rights. The information drawn from books on history and journals from fields including history, education, and the social sciences paints a picture of activism and determination that could still be a model for transforming society today.

The final essay in this issue, written by Rashini Wijesinghe Kannangara, asks “What Can Be Done to Stop the Spread of AIDS Among African Children?” This student researcher uses information from medical journals, academic books on medicine, and information from international organizations including the United Nations to explore this important social and medical issue. The essay first examines the many ways that African children contract the HIV virus and shows that the transmission of this disease among these children is preventable in most cases. The essay goes on to explore the reasons why Africa is disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS. Next, Ms. Kannangara outlines the effects of AIDS on African families, including large numbers of orphans, often infected with HIV themselves, who are left with no one to care for them. The essay concludes by showing how HIV infection and all of its related problems can be prevented by appropriate government intervention.

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 for this issue of The York Scholar features Miguel Bernard’s photograph of Farhad Ali’s wireframe sculpture. Both Mr. Bernard and Mr. Ali are students at York College. We are very interested in continuing this tradition of including student art on the cover and appeal to our student artists and photographers to submit their work, especially work that reflects or symbolizes the academic vigor of York College’s research and writing courses, for the cover of a future issue of The York Scholar.

We would also like to 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.