Paulette Moctezuma, class of 2015, is now in her first year studying Criminal Justice, specializing in Forensics, at LaGuardia. She recently visited UAGC and sat down for an interview about her transition to college:
Green Careers: How does your college experience now compare to your high school experience at UAGC?
Paulette: It’s really not all that different! When it comes to papers we have and any tests, you have to stop and ask questions about it. You’re annotating and breaching as you go - it’s a MUST! It has to happen, the fact that you have to stop and write and think and answer (resolve) any questions you have. The professor says to read it and come to class prepared to discuss it.
I thought - how am I supposed to discuss something that has no discussion questions? I thought, oh, I have to breach, I have to come with my own thoughts and share them with others.
Green Careers: Your senior hoodie was about breaching, wasn’t it? Did you expect to use breaching in your college classes? Do you use that skill in all of them?
Paulette: It’s in all classes, but especially in English class! We are on a discussion forum, a blog, where there are two different groups and one group opens the discussion and the other group has to respond. In order to write something down, we have to have read the text and come up with our own thoughts/questions/something to talk about. Breaching really prepared me to participate in these discussions because it makes you think about a text and have something to say about it.
Green Careers: Sounds interesting! You mentioned English class - what other classes do you like?
Paulette: Intro to Sociology really has let me see how we profile people, and understand how we see other people. We really do this to people, we really judge them. It’s interesting exploring all the ways this happens, and trying to see from other’s perspectives (like in UR!). But, just like English class, all the skills are the same. We have to read something and be ready to discuss it. We have to have breaches, and some people didn’t have anything to say because they didn’t breach on the text, and you know they’re not going to do well. In every class you’re going to have a discussion on the material and you better be ready.
Also, in our first year seminar, they break up the class where we read an actual legal case and debate others in the room about the verdict. You have to defend your answer, making claims and backing them up. You have to do research to support what you are trying to prove. But really, it all comes back to needing to read and talk about a text.
Green Careers: I know you don’t want me to mention Responsibility 23 (provide leadership for other students), but I have to ask - do you work in groups in college, like responsibility teams, at all? I think a lot of people think college is just about getting your own work done. Does your group work here help you at all?
Paulette: We have to work in groups! A different group presents each day and we’re the teacher for the day. We have our own thoughts on the text, but sometimes people think differently, so they share their perspective and how they saw it differently. You both share different perspectives and you learn from each other, explaining why you saw it that way, and they explain how they saw it. It really takes me back to Green Careers.
Green Careers: And what about sharing - the thing so many students love to loathe?
Paulette: In college, everybody has to share. EVERYBODY. Everyone is assigned a number in the classes and they pick on you randomly to share on different days. It doesn’t matter if you want to, you have to.
Green Careers: It sounds like the values UAGC tries to instill - responsibility, collaboration, and intention - have really worked for you!
Paulette: It’s really amazing how prepared I am for it. Not everybody seems prepared - some people really don’t want to take responsibility for their thinking, and they just say “I don’t get it.” But others do the kinds of things we did at UAGC. In my sociology class someone had really annotated the text, and I was impressed, but others have blank pages and they seem used to the traditional way where the teacher tells you how to think about the text.
College isn’t like that at all - they give you the syllabus and it tells you what to read, it’s expected, but you have to prepare on your own for it. The professor knows if you’re understanding the material only if you come with questions about the text. That’s how the class begins and the discussion starts. You have to be ready to learn on your own, and then come to class ready to talk about it.
Green Careers: Students sometimes say (you even did sometimes!) that they just want teachers to teach. It sounds like that’s not really what college is like these days. What would you say to students who want more traditional school like that?
Paulette: I’d say “I feel sorry for you!” If you still want that, you’re gonna be in trouble. Lectures are every once in awhile, but it’s mostly - read this and figure it out. It’s just what’s expected, because that’s what you’re going to have to do in life.
Green Careers: Sounds like good advice! Come back and visit us soon and keep us updated on how you’re doing!