Joshua Davenport, U.S. Army veteran
What was your educational experience prior to WSP? Would you consider yourself a confident student?
I had just completed two years at a community college. Though I earned good grades, I struggled to maintain. My study skills were inefficient, and my time management was poor. Like most students, I struggled with imposter syndrome. Even after I was accepted to Stanford, the imposter syndrome was still there. In fact, it had intensified. As the courses got harder, my confidence in my academic abilities plummeted.
Had you participated in any sort of virtual learning before? If so, how does your WSP experience compare to that?
At the beginning of the year, I was attending classes in person at a community college. Due to the pandemic, the classes were abruptly shifted to an entirely online format for the final two and a half months. The instructors struggled with technology and adjusting instruction plans on the fly. The students struggled with the changes and distractions. It was certainly a difficult transition. WSP, on the other hand, provided necessary instruction prior to the course to ensure all participants were on the same page. All the instructors, lecturers, and fellows were excellent at navigating the virtual format. In addition, they were so engaging and accessible, they created an environment that was, in some ways I’d argue, better than in-person programming. Each participant received so much attention, and different avenues to have their voice heard. It was a challenging and rewarding experience!
Why were you excited to participate in WSP this summer?
I heard so many others share their great experiences as WSP participants. I had an idea of the challenges the would push me in the program, and I was eager to grow. I wanted to work on foundational skills like rhetorical writing, and complex reading analysis with a university professor. Most of all, I wanted to meet other student veterans who were driven to grow personally, and make a positive impact.
What have you learned so far that you think will be helpful as you pursue your degree?
Being able to process and analyze an enormous amount of information in a short period of time is a newly found skill that I see serving as a pillar of my success as I move forward on my academic path.
What was your favorite session, and why?
My favorite session was the writing workshop with Dr. Christine Connell. She introduced us to the Louisiana Literacy Test of 1964, which was used enforce unequal access to voting. Dr. Connell gave a real demonstration that not only showed how there are ways to work around laws to guarantee not rights but inequalities, and the parallels that can be seen today. After, the point Dr. Connell made allowed me to make a deeper connection to the assigned reading.
Are there any instructors or fellows who have made a difference for you at WSP?
Dr. Christine Connell really spent so much time ensuring each person had an understanding of the material. In our short period of time, she made a key impact on how I approach writing. All of the fellows were great, but Derek Auguste and Lisa Elijah taught me so much about, well, so much. Derek’s laidback, but all-accepting approach to leading uncomfortable conversations allowed new perspectives to form in a safe environment. Lisa approached every encounter, especially the nightly check-ins, with a level of sincerity, and emotional intelligence I have never witnessed. She provided thoughtful feedback, needed encouragement, and unparalleled support throughout the week.
Is WSP having any effect on how confident you feel as a student?
I applied for WSP with the intent of improving my study skills and my writing abilities. Not only did I accomplish those goals, but I also grew in ways I didn’t expect. I honestly feel ready to tackle any academic challenge that lies ahead.