UWP 1 Cover letter

Portfolio Cover Letter

Dear Reader,

Throughout the entirety of this course, I have seen a dramatic improvement within my writing apprehension and overall skill. If there is one aspect of this class that I will take with me into the future is simply “pay attention to detail”. The difference between an exceptional writer and a mediocre one is the level of attention one pays to specific details within their text. Although I have not seen a noticeable difference in aspects such as developing content and ideas, grammatical errors that I made in the past are now avoided due to the knowledge acquired in this course.

A ‘Good’ writer will always be someone who has the ability to transform a personal experience, emotion or visualization and place those thoughts into writing in which others understand and relate.  For me, I will not be an extravagant poet or novelist, but what I do produce through my writing will be better due to taking this course. To note specifically, the formal letter assignment proved to be an obstacle being that I was very inexperienced with the task at hand. Writing letters such as these are extremely common in the business/career world, and I believe that this assignment has introduced a professional aspect to my writing that I did not have before. To get ones’ message across they must place themselves in another’s shoes, and this assignment forced me to do exactly that. This is extremely beneficial due to the fact that I can use these skills attained to help further my professional and social life. Being a professional in any sense of the word is what I strive to become, and experiencing the difficulties of this assignment has allowed me to reap the benefit through the knowledge I now have.

The fourth and final assignment is the best representation of how much I have learned though out this course.  Being that it was a formal research paper, my final draft consisted of different aspects taken from each assignment prior. The first assignment emphasized the benefits of revision, and I might have gone over assignment 4 at least fifteen times before printing the final draft. In the second assignment, as noted before, the professionalism emphasized in the formal letter was the foundation I used for assignment 4. This not only made my position more credible but gave me an edge that would persuade the reader to believe with me and my overall message towards grit.

The final product used for assignment 4 is the centerpiece of my portfolio due to the time and passion that I had for the task at hand. I felt very strongly in support for grit and perseverance having an influence towards achieving success, and I enjoyed finding valid evidence and research on the subject. Additionally, by taking what I have learned from the other assignment and implementing them within assignment 4, I believe the final draft was one of my better writing pieces. Each aspect learned: revision, writing professionally and combining them effectively has furthered my overall writing skill and apprehension. This class could have been dull and repetitive, but being that we had interesting topics and challenging tasks I would not have had it any other way. The lessons learned will be taken not only by myself, but the other students as well on our journey to academic success.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Jerry Butt

CIN# 999108550

The Key to Success is ‘Grit’

            In today’s academic and business world, the skills that you acquire throughout life is essential to develop your capabilities in an ideal manner to thrive. Yet, there seems to be an additional quality that has an apparent effect on the outcome of ones’ personal success, and that quality is grit. Those who intend to apply and complete college and find future success must instill themselves with grit in order to persevere through the hardships they will face throughout their lives.

The Scientific Approach

University of Pennsylvania’s Angela Duckworth, the leading intellectual mind on the outcome of grit regarding success, states “Grit entails working strenuously towards challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress” (Duckworth, 1087).  To clarify, grit can be equated to that of persevering, defined as “to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty…. [Continuing] steadfast” (Merriam-Webster). Duckworth believes that the key to ensure success and a thriving academic or career-driven life, instilling oneself with this definition of grit will thrust them towards this goal. As a current college student at the University of California at Davis, I see first-hand the reality of her statement. Everyone struggles throughout the challenges and hardships of school and/or their careers, but those who persevere and continue their persistence towards the tasks at hand will always overcome those who break when given a challenging and daunting task.

In a test conducted at the United Military Academy at West Point, Angela Duckworth created a “Grit Test” study in order to see the impact that the exhibition of grit has on soldiers and whether or not they are qualified to lead, give orders, etc. This gives an insight on how those in the workplace work and operate, she states “Our hypothesis [is] that grit is essential to high achievement evolved during interviews with professionals in investment banking, painting, journalism, academia, medicine and law” (Duckworth, 1088).  This test entailed asking the participant a series of eight to twelve questions such as “I have overcome setbacks to conquer an important challenge” and “setbacks don’t discourage me” (Hanford, 1).  This study used a point-scale in order to attain information on whether or not perseverance and grit have an effect on ones’ overall leadership capabilities. As a result of Duckworth’s test, “… grit mattered more than intelligence, leadership ability or physical fitness” (Hanford, 1).  Although there are other externalities that lead to ones’ overall success, yet through the conduct of this study and Duckworth’s research we can now measure other characteristics of individual performance in order.

The influence that grit has for aspiring and current college students is evidential from the results of Duckworth’s study (Hanford, 1). Being gritty is a key proponent to the overall success of a college career. This quality does not guarantee success, but according to Duckworth’s research and supporting theories, grit will make the difference between two individuals at the same intellectual level. Duckworth’s research exploits the fact that we do not harness our full potential as individuals, and grit can make up the difference between what is utilized and what is wasted.

Grit is Essential for Success

Arianna Huffington, the President and Editor-in-Chief of the famous and highly read “Huffington Post” has faced  many struggles and hardships in her climb to become one of the most influential names in journalism. As a Greek immigrant, Huffington overcame the language barrier she faced when attending Cambridge University. To leap over this hurdle she decided to persevere through her difficulties and as a result she decided to join the the world famous debate society “The Cambridge Union” and would later become the President of this prestigious organization. When asked what was the defining factor towards her climb in becoming one of the most influential women in the world she responded simply, “The difference between failure and success is Perseverance” (HuffingtonPost.com). Grit as a quality means far more than only showing up every single day, it is a quality that entails persisting with the most amount of effort possible to achieve ones’ goals. As a student, understanding and progressing ones’ individual level of grit is essential due to the competitive manner of the academic and career world. The slightest advantage that one has over another can be the difference of being selected for a high-paying position or having to fill out unemployment applications later in life.

In order to gain an additional perspective on the issue of grit and tenacity in an academic and specifically college setting, I conducted an interview with a fellow colleague who is attending a graduate program at Pacific Oaks School for Learning and Development. After gaining this perspective, it only further supported my position of the importance of emphasizing this quality more-so into modern day curriculum. Her journey to get to the position she is in today has been the product of hard work, determination, and of course – grit. While there were many factors that have led to her success, she undoubtedly knows of the utter importance grit has on ones’ academic and workplace careers.

For all students who aspire to become successful college graduates, the advice is simple: work hard, make sacrifices and persevere through all obstacles. If this is completed effectively by an individual based off of the research and from personal experiences one has the right formula to succeed. The research has been conducted and awareness is rising in this unexpected quality for success; there have been testimony from multiple sources as well which leads to further (See Appendix A). Performing an interview with someone who has experienced hardships and have overcome them shed light on the benefits that utilizing this skill has to offer. After hearing her side and studying the research there is absolutely no reason why anyone who is determined for success should not instill themselves with grit. Simply put. grit is an evident factor in the progression of ones’ success in their academic or career-driven lives.

Push for Progress and Development

            The introduction of information provided by Angela Duckworth regarding the influence of grit on academic and career-driven success has gained the attention of the United States based on its direct application to youth and the future of economic, industrial, political and technological advancement. In February 2013, The Office of Education and Technology (OET, 2013) within the United States Department of Education drafted and released a report titled “Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century” (McClarty, 1). This report places added emphasis on the evolving nature of the academic and business standards that are expected from departing college students and prior, making grit and perseverance the center-fold of the report. The report states:

“These factors [grit, tenacity and perseverance] are essential to an individual’s capacity to strive for and succeed at long-term and high-order goals, and to persist in the face of the array of challenges and obstacles encountered throughout schooling and life” (OET 2013).

This report is a push in the right direction for America by emphasizing the advantages and benefits of gearing more towards instilling grit, tenacity and perseverance within American academia and in society. Every college student will come across some form of an obstacle or restriction in their academic and social lives. The defining factor of what separates the successful from the non-successful has a large proportion to do with the level of grit one exhibits during these challenges.

If there is anything gained from reading this text, it is that throughout life there will be obstacles placed in front of you, but what will show your true character is how you as an individual overcome such hurdles and carry forward whether in school, work or life. Grit is the act of consistently persevering despite what kinds of restrictions are set in front of you. With additional research towards this subject, schools will emphasize this quality towards its students, and for any who truly expects themselves to complete a college education in this country, become familiar with grit now to ensure your success throughout your entire life.


I. Interview with Nicholette Issaevitch, graduate student at Pacific Oaks School for Development and Learning

  1. The following questions and answers were recorded on May 17, 2015 regarding the topic of ‘grit’ and whether or not there is an influential impact towards the success of students.

Q1- “Today we are discussing the term “grit”, are you familiar with it and how would you define it in your own words?”

A1- “The term is not as familiar as it should be. I would believe “grit” would have to be described as whatever in life is thrown your way, which can be either positive or negative, and how your actions and behavior is used to overcome those obstacles.”

Q2- “Can you describe an example of when you yourself realized that either grit was truly important or in which you can remember exhibiting yourself?”

A2- “Oh, absolutely. My father has been an alcoholic his entire life, sometimes leaving him in or out of the hospital and leaving me, my sister and mom to fend and be financially responsible for ourselves. When you have myself going to two schools while trying to work a part time job just to help out could be considered gritty.”

Q3- “And on top of everything you had to be expected to make good grades, show up on time and promptly to work, and the list goes on.”

A3- “Exactly, but everyone is dealt a different hand, and it is how you play that hand is what separates you from the next. I think of that every time I am placed in a situation where it is specific to me and my interests in which you can suck it up or fold the hand.”

Q4- “That analogy is another way to describe grit. I knew that speaking with you today would give an additional perspective on the importance of persevering through hardships. Thank you very much for your time and I’ll let you get back to your work.”

A4- “Of course, anytime.”

Works Cited Page

  1. Bahadur, N. (n.d.). Arianna MAKERS Interview: ‘The Difference Between Failure And Success Is Perseverance’ Retrieved May 26, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/09/arianna-makers-interview_n_4568692.html
  1. Duckworth, A., Peterson, C., Matthews, M., & Kelly, D. (n.d.). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1087-1101.
  1. Hanford, Emily. How Important is Grit in Student Achievement? (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2015, from http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/10/02/how-important-is-grit-in-student-achievement/
  1. Shectman, DeBarger, Dornsife, N. (2013, February 14). Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century. Retrieved May 26, 2015, from http://www.pgbovine.net/OET-Draft-Grit-Report-2-17-13.pdf
  1. McClarty, K. (2013, February 28). Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance – Pearson R&I. Retrieved May 26, 2015, from http://researchnetwork.pearson.com/college-career-success/grit-tenacity-and-perseverance

Formal Letter

RE: Public Speaking & Communication Reform

Purpose: To strengthen and enhance these essential social skills within CA students.

To the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Directors,

Hello, my name is Jerry Butt and I am currently enrolled as a student at the University of California at Davis. Today I am writing to you in regards to a proposal I would like to suggest relating to the inadequacy of public speaking curriculum taught in schools. Throughout my own experiences, I have noticed that if a teacher asks their students to read an essay out-loud to their peers, how many would do it? The lack of effective public speaking taught in public schools needs to be altered, being that we need to raise the next generation of students to be well-rounded and adequate speakers.

The importance of this proposal I am asking of today is that our modern education is becoming far too specialized; we are raising students to try and find one niche and become excellent in that one field. This system does help to teach students to become adequate in one trade: science, business, politics or mathematics, yet this education is not sufficient in teaching students how to interact and communicate with one another. I notice every day in my college classes of the struggle students have to even make a basic greeting and introduction of themselves. Some blame the connection to cellphones, others blame how this is a “Millennial” stereotype, but either way there is no escaping the fact that schools do not teach public speaking and communication skills as ideally as they can. It starts from the roots, and only through extensive training and teaching will this be accomplished.

It is a familiar feeling for students, the dreaded anticipation for “presentation day”, when the teacher calls one student out of their peers to stand and speak for a small duration of time. The reluctance to speak in front of other students is rooted from the desire to avoid public humiliation and, the necessity to be like everyone else. The goal of this proposal is to remove this dreaded feeling and instead encourage students to be excited to be called upon when asked to read out loud, conduct a presentation, or even write a speech. Communication is not an aspect of education that is emphasized enough within our current California state standards; public speaking and communication are essential tools that students will utilize throughout the rest of their lives.

The adaptation of ones’ communicative skills is truly a passive ability that any person in the workforce, military. There is no doubt that any aspect of business would agree that public and interpersonal communication needs to be a main emphasis for future educational reforms. The county of Los Angeles alone holds over ten million residents, being one of the largest people per capita in the country. The youth that is raised within your county will continue to apply for jobs and hold public office in which can potentially raise profitability. However, without proper communicative skills, the likelihood of success declines dramatically. Public speaking and communicative skills are social traits that when increased can only heighten the entirety of one’s education. Education itself is the foundation for an ideal society, and if the students of the Los Angeles Unified School District are being neglected of the ideal education possible, then it falls upon those who are responsible for creating the curriculum. I am aware that the California state educational budget does not allow much flexibility to work with, but all I ask with this proposal is to begin realizing that small steps must be made in a different direction in order to create the best education possible.

Possible solutions to this problem begin with adding public speaking to students’ curriculum at a much younger age; in kindergarten and first grade there should be a heavier emphasis on specifics such as introducing oneself to others, and learning the difference between what is and what is not okay to say. As students grow older, the emphasis of public speaking should develop and progress as would English classes or historical lessons. I believe that for adequate communication to be achieved, this curriculum should become an integral part of Los Angeles and California state educational standards. The issue is that this curriculum is not emphasized at a younger age. These are basics not taught as well and as often as they should be in California and national curriculum; public speaking and communication should be further developed through lower education and into high school in order to prepare students for college and the work force.

I send this letter to you, the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Unified School District, in order to ask of you that you simply re-examine the curriculum that is set in place in the field of public speaking and basic communication. I understand that due to budget distribution and the politics of your organization and positions that accommodating for these changes is difficult, but I believe the lasting effects will be extremely beneficial and rewarding. This needs to become a focal point of educational adaptation being that with the increase of student class sizes and smaller admissions into higher educational entities, the ability of public speaking is essential for the success of further generations. Although again it will be difficult to make large measures in this behalf, but even the smallest step can have lasting results. Thank you again for your time and consideration.


Jerry Butt