Words Project Example Submissions

WU Words Project Examples:

1. Growing up as a Middle Eastern woman in an American world was one of the hardest things that I have ever done. It is a constant battle to try and figure out who I am and what I should do because everything comes into conflict. Being encompassed in a castle that bans activities that are pressured and celebrated outside of its walls is the constant struggle for me and many women. Hopefully we can all try to scale over or break down these walls, but for now, I am cast down by shadows.

2. I am an American, in fact, my genealogy traces back to the original Americans; Native Americans. This is the ethnicity I identify with, but this is not who I am, completely. I am also Mexican-American. This is part of the glory of being an American, diversity allows individuals to choose who they want to be and how they want to be classified. A person may be bred from various races, but may experience only one or two of the cultures of these races. I am Native American, this is part of my race, and part of my culture. The story of my race begins before the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the early Europeans. However, our full story wasn’t documented in the traditional sense until the Europeans came and relocated the Potawatomi tribe to the north part of Michigan, then to the southern part of Wisconsin, until we were divided and finally settled in on the Potawatomi reservation here in Kansas. This is where I will begin the story of my culture, transitioning to the culture of my great-uncle, and finally to the culture of my generation.

I identify as Native American, Prairie Band Potawatomi to be more precise. Tracking the history of the Potawatomi can be difficult. I used a few resources which seemed to have the same general information. According to the website created by the Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe, Potawatomi means “Keepers of the fire,” they originated near and migrated around the Great Lakes. Interactions between other Native American groups and the white settlers of the early 1600’s is what led to the migration of the Potawatomi. Similar to other tribes, the Potawatomi lived off of the land for subsistence. According to a web-based encyclopedia, the Potawatomi hunted, sometimes in large groups and sometimes in smaller groups depending on the time of year. In the warmer seasons groups would come together, during the colder seasons they would divide and split off. The men typically did the hunting, while the women would hunt for more natural food, such as berries, and plants. Both the women and men had a hand in some form of farming, ranging from corn and beans, to tobacco. The early Potawatomi were arranged by clans, and all of which were organized by a patrilineal manner. They were considered exogamous and therefore did not marry within their clan. It is difficult to get an idea about the culture of the Native Americans, since most documentation about the tribes was written by European and American outsiders. To get a better idea of the history, it is best to find an elder and listen to them. It is Native American tradition to have the history of the tribe be passed down in story from the elders to the youth.

Part of the Native American culture stems from the name of which one carries, and in the olden days it was earned. A person’s last name was also part of an identification mechanism to other clans and tribes, your name was not just a name, but it was a description of who you were. The name Wahquahboshkuk originally stems from the name Waboksheik, which means roily water. My uncle speaks of the event when the name transitioned into what it is today. His grandfather was on an outing, “to become a man” when he came across a Pawnee. The Potawatomi were hunter-gathers, but the Pawnee were a war party. It was then that the two began fighting for their own honor, in the middle of a river. Most Native American names are of a description of that person or an event; Wahquaboshkuk means, “they dirtied the water as they fought.” This describes the encounter between my great-great-great uncle and a Pawnee, gave him his name, and has given the name to the generations that have followed (George Wahquahboshkuk, personal communication, March 4th, 2016).

My great uncle was born in 1949, one of 10 children. He fought in the Vietnam war, was the only one in his family to attend college and retired as a political leader for the Prairie Band Potawatomi. As a young boy the dynamics of his family was very traditional of an early Native American, or any early American for that matter. His father was a trapper, while his mother was a typical homemaker keeping an eye on the children and maintaining the home. Their marriage was arranged and occurred while they were both very young. They lived in a two-bedroom home, without electricity or running water. As a young boy my great uncle lived in a time when small Native American children were taken by a government agency called the B.I.A (Bureau of Indian affairs), and was taken away to become civilized by a religious group. This happened to him when he was six years old. My great uncle recalled, “they treat you horrifically, and if you ran away they’d shave your hair and knick your head with the clippers.” (George Wahquahboshkuk, personal communication, March 4th, 2016). As a Native American my great-uncle’s childhood was encompassed mainly with the traditions of his culture. The men were taught more of the spiritual mechanisms and the women were limited in their involvement of the traditions. My great uncle became the father to six of his own children, and took in his great niece, all of whom he would teach these traditions to.

When I was a small child, the Native American traditions were a major part of my experiences. Although we did not attend many pow wows many various “meetings” were held at my childhood home. It is on these occasions that a sheet would be laid out on the floor, with food covered from one end of the sheet to the other end. Those in attendance would be seated around the sheet, a prayer of sorts would be said, food would be eaten, and then the next group of people would sit and the process would take place all over again. This would occur again and again until everyone had eaten. The men would then clear the dishes, and the women cleaned them, any food that was left over, was not wasted but rather used as part of the ritual, and in a way in which I cannot speak of.

I spoke of names being of great importance, mine was given to me at a very early age and although I know what it is I cannot tell you what it means, since the person that gave it to me was no longer alive when I attempted to inquire about it. This is why the passing of traditions is so important to the Native American culture. It is easy to forget one’s culture. The “meetings” are the only spiritual event that I was exposed to as a child. I was taught some our Native American beliefs, but there is not much more to describe other than that. I grew up in a household where much of the culture was lost. I have since birthed a child, married an Anglo descendent, and no longer reside on the reservation. This does not mean though that my interest in my culture has extinguished. I have great respect for my culture and after my daughter had grown for four seasons she was allowed to be given an Indian name, which my great uncle chose for her. For three days I helped with the preparation of food for the ceremony where children, including me daughter would be given their Indian name. It was on this third day that I was noticed in the kitchen, and the chief’s brother, thanked me and semi-joked that “I really know how to earn my name.” It was then during the actual ceremony that I was anonymously acknowledged, for my hard work in the preparation of the ceremony.

The culture of the Prairie Band Potawatomi does not revolve solely around traditions, though. Our culture entails large families, and although many Native Americans believe in the procreation with other Native Americans, this is not always the case. Families are not of the traditional days, but the economy has required that both men and women work at paying occupations.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi of Mayetta, Kansas has become a sovereign nation where the native people govern themselves. Harrah’s casino assisted the Prairie Band in setting up a casino and eventually the native people took it over and any excess revenue from this business is used to better the livelihood of the native people. We have a police station that works in combination with other local authorities to deal with the enforcement of the laws. Housing programs help to sustain our people on federal land. Higher Education programs have been established to help our native people excel in occupations with the hope that they may some day work to help better the tribe. We also have programs that help to sustain our traditional culture; for example language programs where, natives can come and learn the old language,

My race has experienced much turmoil over the last 300 years, but much of who we are stems from that turmoil. We are people with a great amount of pride for being who we are. Our families are important to us, traditions for most of the native people are the core of who they are. Literature of the native people, is informative but lacks in the true nature of who we are. My great uncle, George Wahaquahboshkuk lived part of what you read in books and part of what you will never see on paper. He passed on to me, some of those traditions, and some of which I have passed on to my very own children. This is how it has always been, for many cultures. The passing of knowledge is how cultures are kept in existence, it is when we start forgetting and failing to practice that cultures are lost.


An Elder’s history [Personal Interview]. (2016, March 01).

“Potawatomi.” Encyclopedia of World Cultures. 1996. Retrieved February 29, 2016 from http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Potawatomi.aspx .

Tribal History. Retrieved February 29, 2016 from http://www.pbpindiantribe.com/tribal-history.aspx .

3. WU Words about me

I come from a small town in Kansas, the first city of Kansas in fact, called Leavenworth. It isn’t a town small enough that everyone can say that they know each other but it is small enough to do the job or boringness. I love where I come from though, small but still close to either part of Kansas City. Once I graduated high school I did not become a Bod, in fact I became a Hornet at Emporia State University. This decision was solely on the fact that I wanted to go into art therapy and ESU was the only school that offered the program at the time. Once I moved to Emporia, that is where the fun began. When I say, “fun” I use that term loosely.

As soon as I moved to Emporia I joined the sorority Sigma Sigma Sigma. I was the only one out of my group of friends that had left for college and, these girls seemed to be a group that I could relate too at the time. I also had friends outside of the sorority, one girl I met in one of my sculpture classes. I spent the night with her in her dorm because my roommate at the time kept inviting boys over for the night without my permission. In the middle of the night we were awoken by an opossum in the room eating her cheese-its. After police and safety arrived and took care of the rodent, my friends roommate believed me to be a demon who brought the creature into their midst. She later threw holy water onto me in hopes that Christ would compel me. Who knew that Catholics carried Holy water? Little did she know was that I was Catholic too.

Later that semester I started dating a guy of Muslim descent. He and I talked about becoming physical in our relationship but, before any of that happened he had to say a prayer of some sort in front of me. It made absolutely no sense to me but I know nothing of his religion so I did not question him. All he asked was that I say Amen afterwords and being naïve I did. I later found out through a friend that he said a prayer of marriage and that he and I were “Married”. I threw the biggest fit afterwards and freaked out. None of it made sense, and it sounded absolutely crazy. My friend said all I had to do afterwards was break up with him and we were, “divorced”. Well that was a no brainer break up.

After some time had passed I found myself in the local Emporia Dillon’s grocery store. An older lady behind me in the baking aisle had a coughing attack and dropped dead in front of me. I had no clue as to what happened other than she died in front of me. So I booked it out of there and went home. Later that week I saw her obituary online and I decided to show up to pay my respects. Her named turned out to be Doris and she had recently become a widow. While I was at her wake I was approached by a younger gentleman who asked how I knew her. I awkwardly had to tell him that she died in front of me in the grocery store. Apparently people were looking for me to ask questions but had no clue who I was so they had no way of contacting me. He proceeded to tell me that his name was Michael and his grandparents took him in after his parents died in the bombing of 9/11. If my week hadn’t gotten any weirder, it just did then. I received Christmas cards from him the next two years, my family thinks that he was interested in knowing me more. That could have been the case but I was not interested in telling my future kids that I met their father because I witnessed their great grandmother die.

Then summer came and I was through my first year of college. I had more weird experiences but nothing that topped those. When I hit the beginning of my sophomore year I met a guy and we quickly were attached to the hip. Then quickly after that a proposal came and we were engaged. Everything happened so quickly which should have been such a big red flag because he had no problem moving quickly with three other girls when I wasn’t around. After such heart break I lasted one more semester at Emporia and in my sorority. My grades were slipping and I was losing my mind. I finally made the courageous decision to go home for a semester and go to the community college. I brought up my grades and earned an associate’s degree in the process.

I never in my wildest dreams thought I would end up at Washburn, but while I was losing my mind in Emporia I applied to Washburn on a whim. I told myself if I was accepted then I was going. I was doing anything to get out of that wretched town. Two weeks later I was accepted and packed my stuff to move home. I do say however, applying to Washburn was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. When I moved to Topeka, I had an open mind and felt like I was starting over. I was closer to home and friends. I even made great new friends in my classes and I blended in well with the school. People are so much happier here and more helpful. If I had done anything different, I would have chosen to come here first. I feel healthier here and I am very happy. After my wild journey in Emporia, this is how I became an Ichabod, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

4. My name is John Lincoln (assigned pseudonym) and I came to Washburn University in the fall of 2012 after transferring from Johnson County Community College. The one major thing I have made here at Washburn is a small group of close friends. I have never really had any close group of friends. From high school, we graduated and friends went to different schools and I came to Washburn University. I didn’t get the freshman experience at all and to top it all off, I came here with a girlfriend, I got involved in organizations, I also got involved sexually with a lot of women and created a horrible reputation for myself. I was so screwed up inside from my previous relationship that I began to use people. I played women, told them what they wanted to hear, lied to my friends, I was, maybe am a narcissist. I blame all my issues on other people, I have no idea how to help myself but I can’t find myself to ask for help or guidance. My life has been a spiral downward until I met a very wonderful woman that involuntarily tried to help pull me out of the mess I was. I cheated because of my own insecurities and refused to be loved. I wanted to be cared for and loved so bad, but I couldn’t let my heart be hurt like it was from the 3 and a half year relationship before. I knew I loved this woman, but I was not good enough for her nor was I ready for someone to come into my life and reach into my soul and love me like she did. I did not know that a love like this existed. She made me want to be a better person. I turned around and cheated on her multiple times to distract or trick myself from loving her. But I wanted to be loved so badly. I want someone to help me figure out who I am and how I can have a happier life and be happy with who I am. SOS. Please keep this anonymous.

5. Hello my name is S. I’m a 22 year old senior who is oh so excited to graduate. I’m Mexican and have grown up in a small town in North East Kansas. I loved having the small community experience growing up. Everyone is friendly and a lot more relaxed it seems. I feel that what makes me me, is what makes a lot of the people in my generation them as well. People are finally starting to challenge themselves to be different and have different mind views. I became a Bod because I didn’t want to leave too far away from my family while still getting a good education. My life has been shaped greatly from being an immigrant. I was always a bit different than others around me and have never embraced it as much as now. I try to always soak in all the crazy magic life throws at us and take happiness from anywhere possible. I believe happiness is a born right, it’s just we’re the ones in charge for channeling it. I’ve never really had a horrible experience at Washburn. I think the best experience/class I’ve taken is Leadership 200, the Farley Visiting Professor Dr. Carter was great. He had a lot of great life advice and content to share. And honestly thinking it through if I could go back in time, I would still choose Washburn.

6. It wasn’t until recently that I became interested in learning about my family heritage. My paternal great grandparent’s families immigrated to the United States from Germany during the late 1800s. I just began planning a trip to Germany for when I graduate college so I can see where my family hailed from one hundred some years ago.

I feel like I am not much different than the majority of the students at Washburn. I am from a small town that is relatively close to Washburn. I actually had no interest in going to college until an admissions counselor from Washburn visited my high school and I agreed to come visit. As soon as I stepped on campus, I knew it was the place for me. It felt like a place I could call my second home. Washburn is like a fine wine, it only gets better with time.

Although I feel like I am all the students here, I know I am far from being similar to any single person. Out of the several thousand students here, I bet I am one of the few students that loves chemistry. I feel that the vast majority of people do not like the subject, but I cannot get enough of it!

Looking back, I would not have changed a thing. I am beyond happy that I chose to come to Washburn. It truly feels like my home away from home.

7. I was born in Atlanta, Georgia. I am an only child and at the age of two my father passed away and my mother decided that it was time that we move back to Greece. Losing my father was definitely an experience that changed my life. Even though I was only two years old it affected the rest of my life because I didn’t grow up with a father figure. My mother did a great job raising me into the strong independent woman that I have become. Both of my parents were born and raised in Greece. Growing up learning two languages was difficult but unique at the same time and a lot of individuals found that very unique about me. Greek was definitely my first language and I attended school there for a couple years. I would definitely have to say that Greek is way harder than English when it comes to education. Even when I was enrolled in school in Greece, I was in the second grade staying up till 11P.M. every night working on homework. After awhile my mom decided that she wasted to move to Atchison, Kansas to reunite with her sister. My mother and I later moved to Atchison, Kansas my third grade year of elementary school and lived with my aunt for a few years. English was extremely difficult for me to learn and my aunt had to continuously work with me to prepare me for middle school and high school. My fourth grade teacher was wonderful, every day after school she would take me with her and make me read a little longer than most kids my age would read. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be as fluent in English as I am now, they are the ones to thank.

After continuing my life in Atchison, Kansas and graduating high school, I later attended Washburn University and became an Ichabod. Starting senior year at Atchison High School in Atchison, Kansas I had many options on where I wanted to attend college. I went on a lot of college visits but Washburn really stood out to me. I became an Ichabod because the day I went to my college visit everyone made me feel at home with the kindness that they treated me with. The first time I came to campus I was nothing but smiles. The environment made me happy and the individuals at the school made me feel like I was back at home without a doubt and in my heart I knew this was the next place I would call home. My first year at Washburn I enjoyed tremendously and if I had to do it all over again I would in a heartbeat. I was definitely involved into school activities and worked at the Human Services Department. My best experience the last two years that I’ve attended Washburn University would have to be the football games and hanging out with my friends in the Union. Overall the school is great and I had no horrible experiences so far.

The only thing I really worry about is having good grades. What really makes me happy is knowing my mother is proud of me for doing well in school. After losing my father my mother never remarried. Since day one it has always been us two. My freshman year of high school she was diagnosed with lupus and ever since then she has never been the same. My main goal in life is to be successful and make my mother proud and in order to do that I make sure that I am successful at almost everything I do, especially school. One thing that I’ve definitely learned attending Washburn University so far is that no matter how tough life gets always remember that you’re tougher and you can conquer anything you set your mind to. If there is one thing that I want others to know about me its that no matter what life throws your way, take it and let it be your motivation to be successful and chase your dreams.

8. Hello! My name is Felicity Morgan (assigned pseudonym). I am 24 years old and I am graduating from Washburn in May 2016. I grew up in a small town with a mom, dad, and brother, my family went to church every Sunday and prayed about things when life got tough. I was raised to respect others, and be polite even if someone wasn’t so nice to me. Growing up in such a small and intimate family made us really close. My brother and I were both very active in sports so we were at the ball diamonds for most of my childhood. I would say that being around my family so much is one of the experiences that shaped my life.

Another experience that shaped my life was losing my brother when I was eleven. My brother died tragically and quickly. We never knew it was going to happen, it was a sudden death, my brother was only sixteen years old and I never thought I would have to bury him at eleven. After I lost my brother, I completely changed. The things my friends were worried about seemed minuscule compared to the tragedy I was feeling and going through. I grew up faster than I should have, which in return made it to where I didn’t fit in with anyone my age. Ever since losing my brother, my main worry in life is dying early and my parents having to bury their only remaining child. I never want to see them in that much pain again.

One of the biggest things that makes me happy is being around my parents, my fiancé, and my friends. I have had the same best friend for 10 years. She has been though almost everything with me. Other things that make me happy are my dog, Oreo, that I have had since my brother passed away, being outside in the fresh air, and being involved on my church.

When I heard about Washburn, I really wanted to check it out because I heard it was a small school. I never wanted to attend KU or KSU because their classes were too big for me to learn in. growing up in a small town I never had more than twenty classmates in my class at a time. I am not good at learning in a big crowd, I needed to be able to know my teachers and go to them when I needed help, and I also knew it was only ab hour from home. Being close to home was one of the most important things when it came to picking my college because I needed to be able to be close to my parents.

One of the things that makes me different from the others from WU is that I am 24 years old, but I am a non-traditional student. I work a fulltime and a part-time job while going to school. It is difficult to do some of the assignments the teachers assign while working two jobs. I truly appreciate some of the things my teachers have done to help accommodate me while I have faced some difficult circumstances while going to Washburn. I truly love this school and it has helped me grow tremendously, not only as a student, but also as a person.

9. I originally came from Hiawatha Kansas. A very small town, north of Topeka, so coming to Topeka has been quite the change. Everything that I have gone through has been much different than city life. However, I did not actually grow up in Hiawatha but out the outskirts of Hiawatha. Which, I became pretty fond of until I moved here. I grew up out in the middle of nowhere, helping my dad around the farm doing odds and end things. I moved down to Topeka to attend Washburn in the fall of 2015. The reason I chose Washburn is because it was a smaller college but I am still able to get my full BSN.

If there is one simply thing that has shaped my life was the challenge that my entire school went through my junior year of high school. There has not been anything that has changed my life more than this morning. One of the sophomore students had taken their own life. In a small town, suicide does not happen often and when it does, it is someone that you know very well; being that it is a small town. This has single handedly shaped me to change my views on life. You never every understand what someone is struggle with until it is too late. Looking back, there are things that everyone could have done differently, but no one knew that he was going through. Now I try and take life one day at a time and never take anything for granted.

One thing that I worry about or am not a fan of, is being away from my family. I know it is only an hour and a half away from my home town, but to me it feels like an eternity. My family is very close knit and being away from them has been the most challenging part of moving to college, as for anyone. I have a large family and a lot of nieces and one nephew. I just always worry about being away from them for too long and them think that I have forgot about them. On the other hand, my family is also the people who make me the happiest. I absolutely love being around my family when I am able to go home. Another thing that makes me happy is being around my best friends, because no matter how bad of a day I have had, my friends are the ones who get me through the day.

My worst experience at Washburn was definitely living in the dorms. I had a roommate who was very disrespectful and rude to me. That was an experience that I never wish to go through again in my life. My best experience was meeting all the new people that I had the opportunity of meeting, especially my best friend and new roommate. Campus is a beautiful place but there are so many people always one it, that you cannot enjoy the view but the rush of getting through to the next class, halts the piece of campus. I think a lot of Washburn kids are there to make memories and get a degree, which is exactly what I have been doing this year and will continue to do. The only thing I wish were different is that people were more open to change and understanding that everyone is different from the next person. Washburn seems to be a very closed minded campus and this needs to change.

Sent to the Washburn Review on 8/16/2016