Looking up at the sharp laughter of the gull, I caught the sea breeze on my face and smelled the tangy salt spray from the Pacific ocean. Suddenly, I felt like I was home. I took off my flip flops and stepped down into the familiar warm, smooth, white sand. Skirting the volleyball players near Lifeguard Station 37 at the beach in Carlsbad, California, I made my way down to the firmer sand near the shore.
I was just there for an hour for a walk along the beach. Most of the people I passed were spending the day. I could see the striped and flowered towels strewn across the sand and covered with water bottles, coolers, and sand toys. Walking along the shore, I watched the small kids making sand castles while their parents snapped pictures. One group of teenagers gauged the waves for boogie boarding; another group flipped a Frisbee back and forth while splashing around near the shoreline.
The waves bathed my ankles as I walked along just at the edge of the water. Past the lifeguard stand, a trio of surfers put on a good show and I felt my heart jump as one board flew up in the air and down upon one of them. Unconcerned, he popped up and grabbed the board and headed out again.
While I love watching surfers, I've never had the urge to try it myself, but as I turned to head back, I saw something I would love to try. It looked like a parachute which was blowing down the beach. As it got nearer, I heard a motor and realized it had something that propelled it ahead. Slowly, it headed past me and I just got a chance to take a picture as it went by. Then I turned with my back against the waves to take a "selfie" of just me at the beach.
Looking at the sky, I realized it was time to head back. A family I had smiled at asked if I would take a picture, "Of all four of us" the mother explained. The picture was taken, I waved a farewell and headed back, picking up a shell along the way. Just before heading back up to my car, I had an idea. Right where the sand is wet and smooth, I bent down and wrote, "For Rhonda." Taking out my phone, I snapped a picture and sent it to my friend.
Below we offer two examples of thoughtful reflective essays that effectively and substantively capture the author's growth over time at California State University Channel Islands (CI). We suggest that you write your own essay before reading either of these models-then, having completed your first draft, read these over to consider areas in your own background that you have not yet addressed and which may be relevant to your growth as a reader, writer, or thinker.
Any reference to either of these essays must be correctly cited and attributed; failure to do so constitutes plagiarism and will result in a failing grade on the portfolio and possible other serious consequences as stated in the CSUCI Code of Conduct.
View the examples
View Sample Reflective Essay #1
View Sample Reflective Essay #2
Want to become a better writer?
CI's Student Writing web site has how-to videos, writing samples for different subjects, and many other resources to help with your writing.
View CI's Student Writing site
Careers in English and Writing
The English program at California State University Channel Islands prepares students for a wide range of exciting and rewarding careers, including:
- English teacher
- Social media strategist
- Media production (film, TV, internet)
- Print and digital publishing
- Corporate communications
- Foreign service
- Human resources
- Foundations/non-profit management
Learn more about CI's English Program