Help please! Need personal statement critiqued

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lsatz
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 12:50 am

Help please! Need personal statement critiqued

Postby lsatz » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:36 pm

personal statement (last paragraph targeted at Cornell)

“In order to inspire ourselves forward, we must look back to see the contrast with the place we came from.” – Chogyam Trungpa (Buddhist teacher). Over a year into study at #### University, I found myself not knowing what I wanted to major in or what I wanted to do beyond my college years. That is until I took an International Law course that ultimately inspired me to retrace my roots to the country which my parents and grandparents grew up in. Unfortunately, it took a bloody genocide for me to become cognizant of my family’s homeland of Rwanda and the role that it would play in my development towards becoming a lawyer.
In my sophomore year at #### University, I applied to enlist in an upper-level International Law course that was primarily intended for graduate students. Perhaps divinely, I got a seat in the class and was immediately transformed by the lessons I studied. We began the course by studying the genocide in Rwanda and the lack of laws against the systematic targeting of ethnic Tutsis in the country. I was immediately shocked to learn that hate speech on the Rwandan national radio was not only accepted but endorsed by the Rwandan government. The state’s role in the genocide and subsequent failure to adequately prosecute its perpetrators touched a human cord within me. I was about to be even more touched when I learned of my own family’s history and their contributions to the development of Rwanda.
I knew my parents and extended family had grown up in Rwanda, but being ancestrally Indian, I never thought of Africa as a place I or my family would call home. However, when I learned of my family’s involvement in the development of the country which included running a company that employed hundreds of Rwandans and opening an orphanage that took in Rwandan youth off the streets, I became more interested in our roots there. When I learned that my parents left for America not to follow the ‘American Dream’ but because of a forced deportation ordered by Rwandan government officials, I immediately started searching for answers, drawing me closer to the country my family had once called home.
Coupling a quest to discover my ancestry with a growing interest in international law and specifically in the plight of the Rwandan legal system, I applied to take part in a human rights delegation to Rwanda. The summer after my sophomore year, I travelled to Kigali with an organization known as ####. What I learned there ultimately put me on the path to apply to law school. Having the opportunity to interview genocide victims and discuss what human rights means to them brought me closer to the land my family once called home. To see the pain of the victims even a dozen years after the tragedy was enough to awaken a spirit of social justice within me. When I visited the mass gravesites that have been preserved since 1994, I saw haunting images: classrooms full of skeletons and churches full of dead Rwandans in each pew. The mangled limbs and blood spatters on the wall were enough to make me realize I needed to do more with the opportunities that lay before me. I came back to #### and immediately sought out the African Studies department and began taking courses devoted to the East/Central African region. I started to focus my studies on international human rights as well as state failure and how to rebuild fractured societies. My grades improved considerably and I felt a passion I hadn’t felt before that what I was studying and the career path I was embarking upon would have a real difference in the world.
As I studied the roots of conflict and human rights issues in Africa even further, I came to the realization that many of the problems facing Africans stem from the dearth of viable human rights legislation on the continent. Without the availability of appropriate systems of legal recourse for Africans who have been victimized, a feeling of helplessness emerged amongst victims and a culture of impunity surfaced on which criminals have taken advantage. To put an end to war, we must hold those instigators of conflict accountable for their actions. The work of the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda captured my attention and it is my goal to work for similar international courts after becoming a lawyer. To achieve this end, I focused my upperclassmen studies on areas of human rights, foreign policy and policy processes, so that I may have the tools to aid the disenfranchised and disadvantaged in our increasingly globalized world. The next step in my journey is law school and I have never been keener to start classes!
That summer I spent in Rwanda served three major purposes in my life: it helped me to discover the roots of my family’s past, it opened my eyes to the vacuum of human rights in the developing world, and it directed me on the path to law school. The delegation workshops and conferences I participated in facilitated my acquiring a more global perspective of what human rights mean to different people and how we must protect them in an increasingly globalized world. Moreover, seeing the destruction and remnants of the genocide that have been preserved intact in classrooms, churches, and hospitals, sparked an internal emotional aspect of my consciousness that erased my apathy and continues to light a flame under my spirit. Those images remain engraved in my mind every time I see discrimination or oppression in the news or in my life. It is this passion that has finally awakened the legal spirit within me and pushed me to succeed in my final years at #### and in writing my LSAT; hopefully, as well, into law school.
However, to truly solve the crises that plague our world, we must work together. Though many believe the legal system to be purely adversarial, I believe the pursuit of justice can be best accomplished through cooperation and reconciliation. I enjoy working closely with others who are passionate about studying law and seeking justice and Cornell would provide the perfect opportunity for a close-knit community of such people. I have attended small schools my whole life and have found great success when students work together as colleagues and not competitors. The small class sizes and low student to faculty ratio shows the school’s dedication to developing the skills of its students. I am also excited by the opportunity to participate in the Berger International Legal Studies Program and to explore the resources of the Cornell Institute for African Development. I couldn’t ask for my journey in this world to make a better stop than at Cornell Law School.

User avatar
existenz
Posts: 927
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 3:06 am

Re: Help please! Need personal statement critiqued

Postby existenz » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:09 pm

lsatz wrote:personal statement (last paragraph targeted at Cornell)

“In order to inspire ourselves forward, we must look back to see the contrast with the place we came from.” – Chogyam Trungpa (Buddhist teacher). Over a year into study at #### University, I found myself not knowing what I wanted to major in or what I wanted to do beyond my college years. That is until I took an International Law course that ultimately inspired me to retrace my roots to the country which my parents and grandparents grew up in. Unfortunately, it took a bloody genocide for me to become cognizant of my family’s homeland of Rwanda and the role that it would play in my development towards becoming a lawyer.
In my sophomore year at #### University, I applied to enlist in an upper-level International Law course that was primarily intended for graduate students. Perhaps divinely, I got a seat in the class and was immediately transformed by the lessons I studied. We began the course by studying the genocide in Rwanda and the lack of laws against the systematic targeting of ethnic Tutsis in the country. I was immediately shocked to learn that hate speech on the Rwandan national radio was not only accepted but endorsed by the Rwandan government. The state’s role in the genocide and subsequent failure to adequately prosecute its perpetrators touched a human cord within me. I was about to be even more touched when I learned of my own family’s history and their contributions to the development of Rwanda.
I knew my parents and extended family had grown up in Rwanda, but being ancestrally Indian, I never thought of Africa as a place I or my family would call home. However, when I learned of my family’s involvement in the development of the country which included running a company that employed hundreds of Rwandans and opening an orphanage that took in Rwandan youth off the streets, I became more interested in our roots there. When I learned that my parents left for America not to follow the ‘American Dream’ but because of a forced deportation ordered by Rwandan government officials, I immediately started searching for answers, drawing me closer to the country my family had once called home.
Coupling a quest to discover my ancestry with a growing interest in international law and specifically in the plight of the Rwandan legal system, I applied to take part in a human rights delegation to Rwanda. The summer after my sophomore year, I travelled to Kigali with an organization known as ####. What I learned there ultimately put me on the path to apply to law school. Having the opportunity to interview genocide victims and discuss what human rights means to them brought me closer to the land my family once called home. To see the pain of the victims even a dozen years after the tragedy was enough to awaken a spirit of social justice within me. When I visited the mass gravesites that have been preserved since 1994, I saw haunting images: classrooms full of skeletons and churches full of dead Rwandans in each pew. The mangled limbs and blood spatters on the wall were enough to make me realize I needed to do more with the opportunities that lay before me. I came back to #### and immediately sought out the African Studies department and began taking courses devoted to the East/Central African region. I started to focus my studies on international human rights as well as state failure and how to rebuild fractured societies. My grades improved considerably and I felt a passion I hadn’t felt before that what I was studying and the career path I was embarking upon would have a real difference in the world.
As I studied the roots of conflict and human rights issues in Africa even further, I came to the realization that many of the problems facing Africans stem from the dearth of viable human rights legislation on the continent. Without the availability of appropriate systems of legal recourse for Africans who have been victimized, a feeling of helplessness emerged amongst victims and a culture of impunity surfaced on which criminals have taken advantage. To put an end to war, we must hold those instigators of conflict accountable for their actions. The work of the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda captured my attention and it is my goal to work for similar international courts after becoming a lawyer. To achieve this end, I focused my upperclassmen studies on areas of human rights, foreign policy and policy processes, so that I may have the tools to aid the disenfranchised and disadvantaged in our increasingly globalized world. The next step in my journey is law school and I have never been keener to start classes!
That summer I spent in Rwanda served three major purposes in my life: it helped me to discover the roots of my family’s past, it opened my eyes to the vacuum of human rights in the developing world, and it directed me on the path to law school. The delegation workshops and conferences I participated in facilitated my acquiring a more global perspective of what human rights mean to different people and how we must protect them in an increasingly globalized world. Moreover, seeing the destruction and remnants of the genocide that have been preserved intact in classrooms, churches, and hospitals, sparked an internal emotional aspect of my consciousness that erased my apathy and continues to light a flame under my spirit. Those images remain engraved in my mind every time I see discrimination or oppression in the news or in my life. It is this passion that has finally awakened the legal spirit within me and pushed me to succeed in my final years at #### and in writing my LSAT; [strike]hopefully, as well, into law school.[/strike]
However, to truly solve the crises that plague our world, we must work together. Though many believe the legal system to be purely adversarial, I believe the pursuit of justice can be best accomplished through cooperation and reconciliation. I enjoy working closely with others who are passionate about studying law and seeking justice[strike]and[/strike]. Cornell would provide the perfect opportunity for a close-knit community of such people. I have attended small schools my whole life and have found great success when students work together as colleagues and not competitors. The small class sizes and low student to faculty ratio shows the school’s dedication to developing the skills of its students. I am also excited by the opportunity to participate in the Berger International Legal Studies Program and to explore the resources of the Cornell Institute for African Development. I couldn’t ask for my journey in this world to make a better stop than at Cornell Law School.


Overall very well written and interesting. A few run-on sentences near the end (as I noted). Length feels long, so make sure you aren't going over the page limit/text size of the schools you submit this to.

Maybe I'm not keyed in, but do people usually say they "write" the LSAT? I've heard "take" the LSAT, "sit for" the LSAT, etc. "Writing the LSAT" sounds weird to me but maybe it's normal.

That said, good job. In much better shape than a lot of other folks here.




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