Most of my essays arise from my own opinions and are then shaped and supported by evidence. This essay, however, was different.

On this particular day, our WR 100 class had just finished our first papers of the year, having submitted them the previous class. To begin the work on our next essay and to introduce the idea of counter-argument, Ms. Smith had the class look at data from the American Meat Institute (AMI). But as I digested the numbers and began to form my stance, I realized that they were incomplete—subtly biased to tell a certain story. As someone who loves math, Microsoft Excel, and complete stories, I knew that there was really only one solution.

Ten minutes later, I was the only one with no counter-argument written. But I was also the only one who had a spreadsheet filling in the holes of the AMI’s story while simultaneously laying out my own narrative. As it turns out, much more than a lone spreadsheet is required to write a great essay. Namely, it involves actually writing a counter-argument, discarding about two-thirds of my first draft, and committing hours and hours of time.

But in the end, that spreadsheet did become my story: a story that is told in my paper “Exploitation in the 21st Century: Illegal Immigrants in the Meatpacking Industry.”

SAMEER FAROOQ, a member of BU’s Seven-Year Liberal Arts/Medical Education Program, is double majoring in medical science and mathematics. He is an avid reader and greatly enjoys writing in his free time. This past year, Sameer discovered his passion for stand-up comedy and currently performs original routines at BU Central’s monthly Open Mic Nights. This essay was written for Melanie Smith’s course, WR 100: Topics in the History of Public Health.