Cara Faganello, English 115, Best Essay, 2015-2016
Meet Cara. Her English 115 essay, “Bringing up Baby: Becoming a Single Mother by Choice,” riveted us. In a nutshell, Cara wrote her essay to convince her parents to support her choice to become a single mother. Invoking a recurring rhetorical address to her parents as her essay’s refrain, Cara finds both informing and moving ways to explore three options available to local women facing unplanned pregnancies: abortion, parenting, and adoption.
When asked the potential risks involved with writing about something so intensely personal, Cara responds in an illuminating way—by highlighting the risks of not writing about women’s personal experiences:
“Throughout my first year of university, I worked at a crisis pregnancy center. During my time there, I had the privilege of meeting women of every age, from every walk of life. Hearing their stories made me realize how easily you can find yourself facing an unplanned pregnancy, and how many difficult, life-altering decisions these women have to make. In writing this paper, I put myself in their shoes and tried to capture some of what they face during such a crucial time in their life. Part of my reason for choosing this topic was to remove some of the stigma behind facing an unplanned pregnancy. It can happen to anyone, and it does! If it doesn’t affect you personally, it can affect your sisters, cousins, friends, coworkers, or classmates. I want my peers to be aware that they are not alone if they’re facing this.”
Cara suggests that writing often feels to her like a therapeutic process. From the first moments of reading—and re-reading!—her material, to putting quotes and facts in order, to crafting a thesis statement, to building a paper: Cara’s discussion of her compositional process illustrates that writing can provide tools for self-discovery.
With an eye to mental health, self-care, community building, and outreach, Cara’s advice to new English students is sage. “As clichéd as it sounds my advice to students would be to relax,” she says. “Looking back now, I can see that being stressed out about English (and school in general) did not benefit me in the least. VIU is such a rich, healthy environment to learn and grow in, and I would hate to see anyone miss out on a great learning opportunity because of stress. If you’re stressed, please talk to someone! You will probably find that a lot of people have already experienced what you’re going through.”
You can probably tell from these thoughtful words that Cara is a generous student with a wealth of different experiences she continues to draw from in her work. For further proof, check out her wonderful essay here. Oh, and you might want to follow her literary breadcrumbs too:
Cara’s list of top three must reads:
- For her unique, enthralling writing style, Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (or anything by Agatha Christie, for that matter).
- For an absolutely cool literary experience, Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.
- For a deliciously predictable and sumptuous plot, Lynn Austin’s A Proper Pursuit