About Me

I am a first-year student at GPC or GSU or whatever we’re called now. My major is (will be) aerospace engineering, assuming I don’t mess up too badly in the next couple of years and successfully transfer to Georgia Tech. This is my third time as a Freshman; the first two were at Drexel University in Philadelphia, but due to some personal difficulties, I was unable to complete my degree there. Also, none of the credits transferred.
In my free time, I enjoy consuming various types of media (games, movies, tv shows), and playing music (bass guitar, french horn).

Narrative Essay Rough Draft

ENGL Essay I 1st Draft– Title Goes here

by Dylan Lambeth

A crowd had started to gather to watch the show. The venue had been nearly empty for the opening band’s set. They’d played well, but the summer heat and rusted scrap metal littering the empty lot had discouraged most passers by from staying to watch. But now that my friend Chris had started playing, nobody seemed to mind. People living nearby came out from the comfort of their air-conditioned homes to see him, and people walking by stopped to listen. Kids sat on their parents shoulders to see the band. Chris could have held the attention of an entire stadium if he’d ever had the chance. His unique style of jazz crossed with metal drew the crowds, but what kept them watching, and often cheering, was his performance. When he played a guitar solo, he looked like Jimi Hendrix reincarnated. Where most people would play a play a pleasant solo while swaying back and forth a bit, he would play something twice as intricate and nuanced, often behind his back or with his teeth. I always thought it wouldn’t be long until he was touring the nation, selling out stadiums wherever he went. Sadly, life had other plans for Chris.

I grew up very differently than Chris. I was white, from an upper-middle class family, whereas Chris was black, raised by a single mother who struggled to make ends meet. I never needed to worry much about police or money, so I didn’t really appreciate how different my situation was from Chris’s. I grew up in a bubble of liberal optimism, and as a result didn’t know that racism and poverty were still very real problems in America. To me, Chris was just my friend, who happened to live in a cramped apartment. I didn’t think about how different Chris offering me a snack at his house was than my doing the same at my house. I never considered that underage drinking or smoking pot, things that could at worst land me on probation for a few months, could cost him so much more. I never thought about a lot of things growing up, because I’d been led to believe that the world was fair, and that anyone could follow their passion to success. Watching Chris and his family, though, I started to see the cracks in the utopia I’d been told I lived in.

Chris and I were on our way to band practice, with Chris’s older sister driving. A bass guitar in its case was sitting across our laps in the back seat, since the trunk was already full of drums and amps. It was a short drive, maybe ten minutes. We’d barely started driving when red and blue lights came on behind us. Chris and I looked at each other, then at his sister. Neither of us was really sure why we’d been stopped. Chris’s sister just let out a tired sigh as she pulled over and started to dig through the glove box. She seemed to have done this a few times before. After what felt like hours, the officer got out of his car and slowly walked to the driver’s window. I couldn’t make out what the officer was saying from the back seat, but Chris’s sister couldn’t have said more than ten words.

“Yes, sir.”

“Sorry, sir.

“Won’t happen again, sir.”

After the cop handed her the ticket and we drove off, I asked what the ticket was for. “I was speeding,” she said, not quite sounding convinced. I wasn’t convinced either, since I’d glanced at the speedometer when we’d been pulled over. Later, Chris told me that the ticket had been for “DWB”, driving while black. At the time, I thought it was a joke, just a pessimistic way to complain. If I hadn’t seen it happen again and again since, I might still believe that.

After we graduated, the band broke up, and most of our members decided to go to music school, Chris included. He was accepted to Alabama State with a generous financial aid package. I couldn’t wait to see what he did with his incredible talent. But then, only a few weeks after he started, his financial aid fell through. Apparently there was some minor problem with the paperwork, and just like that, Chris had to pack up and move back into his mother’s apartment. I was confused by his reaction to the whole thing. He seemed resigned to it, almost passive to the whole situation. I wanted to know why he didn’t fight harder, and find a way to follow his passion, no matter what it cost him. Looking back, I think I know why. He and I had been living our lives by entirely different rules. I’d been raised to dream big, follow my passion, and aim as high as I could (because I was already sitting higher up than many people could hope to climb), but he’d been raised to deal with reality, and to work hard to make the best of whatever situation life put him in. Now, four years later, he’s married, serving in the Navy to provide for his wife and son. Chances are he’ll live a comfortable, fulfilling life, and give his son a better start than he had. Still, I can’t help but wonder where he’d be now; how many platinum records or sold-out stadiums he could have had if he’d only been given a chance to pursue his passion.

Privilege can be strange. It can open many doors that remain locked forever for many, but it can also blind you to the reality of many people’s lives. Everyone starts on a different rung on the ladder of life, and it’s easy to forget that. Some people enter the world with fame and fortune already waiting for them, while others are greeted by poverty or worse. How many of those people could have become great artists, scientists, or engineers if they’d been born into a world that let them?

Narrative Freewrite on Privilege

I’ll start by saying that, as a white male from an upper-middle-class family, I am very privileged. I don’t have to worry much about my safety, since nobody wants to assault someone who looks like they could assault you right back. I don’t have to worry about traffic tickets, since cops barely even see a white guy speeding past in a grey sedan. I don’t have to stress about money, because my parents are wealthy enough to bail me out of any financial situation I get myself into. I grew up with this safety net all around me, without even realizing it was there. As a kid, I genuinely believed that the world was fair, and that most people just wanted to help out. It wasn’t until high school that I saw how wrong I was.

In 10th grade, I had a friend named Chris. Chris was one of the most talented musicians I had ever met. He was also black. Chris and I were in a band together at the time, so, in addition to the time we spent hanging out and goofing off, we spent a fair amount of time practicing at each other’s houses. This meant we needed someone to drive us and our equipment around (guitars, amps, etc.). Most of the time, my mother would drive us, but one day, she wasn’t available. So, Chris’s sister drove us. It wasn’t a long drive, probably only 10 minutes, yet during this 10 minutes she was pulled over for speeding. Not by much, less than 5 miles per hour, and in an area that every sped through. I’d just gotten my learner’s permit at the time, and I drove down the same stretch of road very often – it was about a quarter mile down a residential street, but one of the widest streets in town, even though there was only one lane each way. The speed limit was 30, but everyone always went closer to 40 or 45, because it was one of the safest streets to do so. But for some reason, I had never been pulled over there. Nobody in my family had ever been pulled over there. Speeding on that stretch of road was a crime everyone I knew committed, but none of them had been punished for it.

Privilege can be strange, because it’s very hard to see when you have it. It’s only when you see how someone lacking the same privilege is treated that you begin to understand just how uneven the playing field is.  After the ticket, I started noticing more and more the ways that I was treated differently. My friend Chris eventually got into a music program at Alabama State, with a generous scholarship. We were all excited for him, and made jokes about how he’d be the next Jimi Hendrix (minus the overdosing, hopefully). In the years since we’d started playing together, Chris’s skill at the guitar had only improved, and I think he had the potential to do something truly amazing with his talent. Then, less than two months after he started at Alabama, his scholarship fell through. I didn’t even know that could happen. I had figured, once they gave him the scholarship, all he had to do was be reasonably successful at school. But apparently, some minor paperwork hadn’t been filed correctly, so the whole thing was cancelled, and my friend suddenly couldn’t afford to pursue his amazing talent. He came home, and got a job working at a restaurant. For a while, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t fight harder to keep his scholarship, why he didn’t find a way to pursue his dream, no matter what it cost him. Eventually, though, I realized that he and I were playing by entirely different rules. Where I had been raised to dream big and aim as high as I could (because I was already sitting higher up than many people could hope to climb in their lives), he had been raised to deal with reality, and to work hard to make the best of whatever life threw at him. He’s now married, serving in the Navy to provide for his wife and son. Chances are, he’ll have a comfortable enough life, and be able give his kid(s) a better start than he had. Still, I can’t help but wonder where he’d be now, how many platinum records and sold-out stadiums he’d have if he’d had the privilege to pursue his career in music.

What Makes a Successful Student?

Most would agree that a successful student is one who maintains effective habits such as attendance, studying, and time management. Although one can strive for these goals by themselves, it is my belief that these habits arise naturally from a certain mindset.

The mindset most students have after twelve years of primary education is simple: complete this requirement, so that I can complete the next requirement, so that I can eventually enter the “real world” and start getting some benefit for all this effort. This mindset is heavily reinforced throughout middle and high school by the use of periodic (and often incessant) testing schedules, certifying that students have churned through enough certifications to continue on to the next certification. This mindset can work for some students (those with an iron will to eventually receive a paycheck), but for many it leads to feelings of monotony and boredom, begging the question, “when can I finally start to do something meaningful or rewarding?” This can send students spiraling down an existential rabbit hole, one which I can say from experience only leads to more monotony, usually in the form of minimum wage jobs.

A more useful mindset to adopt in academic matters is one of curiosity and self-improvement. Rather than viewing courses as stepping stones to more courses and eventually a diploma, view each course as an opportunity to improve both yourself and your understanding of the world around you. For example, an English course, when viewed from the first perspective, looks like an eighteen-week checklist that, upon completion, gives you three to four abstract points called “credits”, which, once you’ve got enough, you can eventually cash in for an employability certificate. When viewed from the second perspective, it becomes an opportunity to hone your skills in written communication, to explore diverse world views through literature and discussion, and to develop opinions and tastes to guide you in the further pursuit of knowledge. Although employment is an important (and arguably noble) goal, without any sort of intermediate reward for the next two to five years, most people would struggle to remain committed. Adopting a healthier mindset simply shows you that the knowledge and skill you gain from each course is the reward, not the three to four points of credit, or even the employability certificate.