2/11 In Class Writing

For my narrative, I will be talking about when I moved from the East Coast to the West Coast when I was 13 years old. This move was triggered by the death of my mother, and I will speak about the obstacles I faced caring for her and my younger sister while she was sick such as making dinner, pinching pennies, and juggling school. I will deeply go into exactly what I encountered when moving the West Coast while grieving my mother’s death, and how it has changed my approach to moving and going out of my comfort zone.

I will specifically go into exactly how not only did I experience such a large culture shock, but I did so at such a rough time in my life which has taught me perseverance and strength at a level that most people don’t experience at such a young age. I will also tie in the fact that because I was able to care for my mom, I  experienced human compassion that ultimately made my decision to go into the medical field. I flourished because of this.

2/6 In Class Free Writing

Growing up in Philadelphia, I got used to the city life and living on the east coast. I got used to Dunkin Donuts coffee and waking up on a Thursday morning to realize we have a snow day, and late-night WAWA runs. Growing up on the East Coast, I knew nothing more than that lifestyle until my world changed before my eyes at 13 years old. My mother got sick with Stage 4 appendiceal cancer. I lived with my mom and my younger sister of 8, and when my mother grew ill I immediately had to take on the role of the mother. I would clean, care for my sister, and make dinner for us. Money became tight, and discount grocery stores and EBT stamps became our norm. In December of 2014, my mother passed away. Within a matter of 5 months, I was picked up with my younger sister and moved across the country to Southern California. I had visited California once before moving there-San Deigo. I saw Cali as a dream state. That was where all the celebrities were and where everyone was rich and had everything they ever wanted. We hopped off the plane and I was greeted by my father and a new stepmom which I had never seen before. Anxious and scared, we were driven to our new house. Everything seemed so perfect, yet so unbelievably different from Philadelphia. There were no homeless people, no graffiti, no trash. I was so used to walking in the city going to the corner store or walking to school.  Here in SoCal, there wasn’t such thing as buses or corner stores. It didn’t seem like this was the place I had to call home. I started school the next month and automatically realized that Southern California was just like it was in the movies. Mean Girls was a reality. Everyone walked in a triangle, everyone came to school in their Rolls Royce cars and their venti vanilla lattes. Every guy was a surfer and would bring his board in his pick up truck so he could leave for the beach right after school. Me, dressed in baggy clothes, basketball shorts, and basketball slides, I was looked at like a clown. I would see people look at me as I walked by, and call me a “stud” or wonder why I dressed the way I did. In Philadelphia, dressing like a tomboy or dressing in baggy comfy clothes was normal. Everyone at my school was now wearing Brandymelville crop tops and distressed Levi shorts that they paid 70$ for at a “flea market”. It didn’t seem right to me. I tried to make friends. I would introduce myself, ask them some questions, start a conversation and I was immediately turned down as if I was the ugly duckling. For weeks during lunch I sat by my lonesome in the hallway, listening to music waiting for the lunch bell to ring so I could go to class and not get humiliated for looking alone. Finally, I met a friend in Spanish class. Her name was Jade. She, too, wasn’t from California and had just recently moved. While she wasn’t from the east coast, she realized how different southern California was. She, too, felt alone as if no one seemed to want to be her friend. We immediately hit it off and became best friends. Looking back on this time, I wonder where I could have gone differently or why things played out like they did. I realized that living in one isolated community for so long, the things you do that are so normal to you and everyone else might be completely odd to another community. It took me a while to get used to the way people spoke, which was much different than Philly. It allowed me to realize that I understand why it’s so easy for people to cling and surround themselves with people that carry common norms or ways because it is a good feeling to feel accepted. Although, after living in Southern Cali for 5 years, I now have a better understanding of cultural diversity, and how to accept that. I am now a very outgoing person, and I look forward to meeting people who are different than me so I can gain better insights. Also, due to the level of compassion and care that I provided for my mother when she was ill, shaped me to go into Emergency Medicine so I can carry that care with others. I am thankful for the storm I was faced with at such a young age, as it has shaped me and motivated me.

-Life in Philly. What did I do for fun, what was normal for me, what was unique to Philly

-My mother getting ill gained a level of human compassion and care. matured fast

-My mother passed away, and my sister and I had to move to Cali without knowing anyone and my anxiousness that was accompanied by this

-I was shamed and looked at weird for the way I dressed and the way I talked. Everything seemed so foreign and I was left alone. describe some scenarios and what was so different

-I met a friend who also wasn’t from California that understood my sadness. We became friends. Describe how we got out of our shell

-what I learned. how I am outgoing now, I like to challenge my beliefs, I want to go into emergency medicine, why I moved to SF (wanted a new change), how did it make me become a better person


Feb 4-In-class writing

-In this assignment, we will be creating an audio essay, based on you, family members, or friends non-fiction story from their life that relates back to culture and identity whether it be a time this was challenged in life, or when you were able to gather a better understanding of it.

-This story will need to be compelling to others, provide insight about you/family/friend, use various different audio and visuals that make the slideshow appealing but not distracting, and to most importantly explore how this event or experience has shaped you and your understanding on culture, backgrounds, etc.

-It needs to be less than 3 minutes long. It needs to have both music and an audio narrative.

-Before the final recording of the essay, we will need to create a pitch to the class to try and sell your story, to be good enough as your topic. This will allow us to get feedback on whether or not this will be intriguing enough for our audience. Also before recording the narrative, we will need to actually write the script. I think this will be a fun essay assignment and is very unique from our traditional written essay. I look forward to doing this, along with seeing other slide shows from my peers.

Discussion on readings “Black and Blue”:

After reading Cadogan’s essay, “Black and Blue”, I am able to relate to how he was racially profiled and encountered many uncomfortable and hurtful situations due to his race. Personally, my boyfriend is African American. When we are out in public holding hands, and it is evident that we are a couple, we often get bad looks and shamed. When this first began, it was very unsettling for both of us. We both knew we weren’t doing anything wrong, so for a while, we were wondering why we were getting such reactions. It became evident after some time that we were getting shameful looks because we are a bi-racial couple, and some people aren’t comfortable with that. To me, this is astonishing. Throughout our daily life, we are reminded all the time to promote diversity and equality whether it be gender, sexuality, or identity but we are so easily getting shamed for being a bi-racial couple. At first, it was easy for me to feel very upset after such looks, but now I don’t pay it any mind. Despite people trying so hard for a diverse and unique world, people’s first instincts are to look a certain way when seeing something that isn’t “normal” and people are too quick to assume the worst. Just because he is a man of color he is assumed to be someone dangerous or a threat when in reality he is in school to become a nurse and could even save one of their loved ones.

In general, this response as a whole tells us that people from diverse racial backgrounds experience these kinds of obstacles in many different forms whether it be applying for jobs or just simple encounters in the grocery store. Cadogan uses his example of walking as a metaphor, showing that as he walked through different places around the world, the abundance of racial profiling never seemed to die down. It is easy for someone to say that such problems are abundant in the world, although it seems as though too many people in society today are actually experiencing these problems rather than just saying it. In this response, by providing a personal story, he was able to show emotion and reality that people might be able to relate to rather than statistics and facts that anyone can simply look up.

Jan 30, 2020 (In-Class Writing)

I read Sara’s response to the readings. After reading her statement, there are many things we dissected from the passages that we can both relate to. There are also things that she interpreted that I did not think of, which allowed me to see things from another perspective. Sara agrees with me that the gay community enjoys “appearing suspicious” in the eyes of others. She also pointed out the idea that these communities aren’t just formed by geographical similarities, but also people’s decisions in life such as marrying someone who has similar education, or who carries similar beliefs. Sara also recognizes the idea that groups of people cluster together and that by not getting out of their comfort zone, they are missing very significant and joyous experiences in life. Sara had the opportunity to travel and live in so many different places, which allowed her to see different ways of life and different cultures more than many of us have, which was very intriguing to me. We both realize it’s very easy for people to huddle up and ask for diversity, but not realize we aren’t trying ourselves. In her response to J.D.’s passage, she pointed out that by working in the grocery store, it was very easy for him to gain resentment for the people who were able to live a better life than him. But, Sara and I are both in agreement that when living a certain lifestyle for so long, people begin to act subconsciously and don’t realize their community has brainwashed them. This is something I didn’t think about prior to reading Sara’s response. After reading her response, we share many ideas in common, and there doesn’t seem to be anything I disagree with. Reading her post allowed me to see things from another perspective.

One cultural blooper, being from Philadelphia, is pronouncing “Water”.  In Philadelphia, we pronounce “waa-ter” as “wooder”, which in many instances causes people to turn their heads. Also, another cultural blooper could be white people braiding their hair in corn-rows, which could upset people of color who feel as though that hair should strictly be for them. Another cultural thing is always putting your napkin in your lap at dinner, which is just simple table manners.

Transgender Presentation 1/28

“Transgender” is a term that describes people whose gender identity or expression does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender is solely about someone’s gender identity, and has nothing to do with things like sexual orientation. “Nearly 700,000 adults in the US identify as transgender, according to 2011 research by the Williams Institute at the UCLA”.  Being transgender means different things to different people, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). A people’s internal sense of being female, male, or something else is their gender identity. 

The transgender community faces numerous obstacles daily, negatively effecting their daily life including healthcare, harassment, legal protection, and poverty.  “The National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) found that 15 percent of respondents were living in severe poverty (making less than $10,000/year). For transgender people of color, those rates were even higher, with 34 percent of Black and 28 percent of Latina/o respondents reporting a household income of less than $10,000 a year (Human Rights Campaign).” With such low annual income, the ability to provide substantial housing along with clothing and food becomes very difficult. Regarding health care, it isn’t uncommon for the transgender community to face bias and in turn be turned away from health care. Harassment within society tends to be the most prominent obstacle that the transgender community seems to face. “The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force surveyed 6,450 transgender individuals in the United States in 2011. Of those surveyed, 41 percent reported that they had attempted suicide compared to 1.6 percent in the general population. Also, 64 percent had been sexually assaulted, and 55 percent had lost a job due to their identity.” This sickening harassment, as shown in the statistics, can cause a decline in mental health. 

Despite so many upsetting problems the transgender community faces, they have been able to come together as one and do many powerful things. One of the most recent things, that has been recognized around the world, is gender-neutral restrooms. Especially in such a diverse city like San Francisco, the accessibility for gender-neutral bathrooms has significantly increased over the past year. A new act passed on March 1, 2017, has required all single-stall bathrooms to be labeled as gender-neutral, rather than an individual gender, according to SHRM.org. In such a diverse society we live in today, not everyone falls under a very easy “black and white” gender, such as “male or female”. These gender-neutral bathrooms safely allow all gender identities to use this restroom safely without fear of fines. Also, now in the state of California, it is illegal for health care providers to discriminate against transgender people beginning in 2005. 

There is visibility which is positive images of transgender people in the media and society continues to make a critical difference in the US, but visibility is not enough and comes with risks to their safety, especially for those who are not getting the support they need. That is why the Human Rights Campaign is committed to continuing to support and advocate for the transgender community so that transgender Americans have an equal chance to succeed and thrive. There are things we can do to show support for the transgender community. We could learn more terminology. Trans language is always changing and important to know. For example, using the wrong pronouns or making assumptions about others identities is wrongful. It is vital that we respect the names and pronouns that people prefer. It is impossible to know without asking. If you are not sure, ask, “what are your preferred pronouns?”. This could ensure the person would not feel disrespected. 







My name is Mia Sotak. I am a first-year biology major on a Pre-Health track at the University of San Francisco. I was born in Philadelphia and lived there up until high school when I moved to SoCal. In SoCal, I attended EMT school and received my certification. I am currently working as an Emergency Medical Technician here at USF,  which I take pride in.

In my free time, I am a very avid yoga enthusiast, and I hope to get my teacher training in the near future. I am on board of the yoga club on campus, too. Along with yoga and working, which I enjoy tremendously, I enjoy spending time with my father and my younger sister. I also really love seafood, especially blue crabs which I could easily eat a dozen! I am left-handed as well, which I love to brag about.

I have aspirations to go into the medical field, especially Emergency Medicine. I plan to go to medical school to become a Physician. When I was 13 years old, my mother passed away from a 2-year battle of appendiceal cancer. While she was ill, I took on the role of the “parent” and cared for my younger sister of eight while caring for my mother. Having to mature at such a young age was difficult, although I learned a level of human compassion and care at a level that many do not have the opportunity to experience. That particularly has made me realize that I want to continue caring for people as a physician.

After completing my first semester here at USF, I really feel at home and look forward to what is in my future.

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