Critique? Perhaps?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
merryo
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:31 am

Critique? Perhaps?

Postby merryo » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:33 am

I have already submitted this to some schools, and it worked on a lot of them. I want to know where this statement is in terms of others and also what impressions it gives.


Personal Statement

I have always thought of myself as a perfect mix of my mother and father, the exact combination of his olive skin and dark hair mixed with her big feet and freckles - his stout build and her slender height. The intermingling of these contradicting traits doesn’t stop on the surface. My father immigrated to the United States from Colombia, where he grew up with three siblings in a tight-knit family after losing his father when he was an infant. It was there that he developed an intense love affair with music and soccer, the former his major in college and his chosen career path. My mother, on the other hand, was raised in an Irish-American family with seven children and parents who are both former Marines and World War II veterans. She played no sports and was always interested in math and the sciences. Coming from these two contrasting backgrounds I have had the opportunity to experience life from two different perspectives on culture and community, and the chance to view the world through a lens that offers a unique insight into human interaction.

With two distinct sides to my background, I always felt torn between multiple cultures, goals, and identities. It didn’t help that my parents were divorced by the time I turned one, and often pushed me in separate directions. My mother wanted me to excel in school, and my dad taught me to play the piano from the time I could reach the keys. Naturally, this confusion of identity carried over into every aspect of my life. My future career goals were split evenly between an academic and a sports hero, a doctor and a singer. I couldn’t even decide between traditional cultural dishes such as Irish corned-beef hash or enchiladas–I loved it all. As a young boy I was involved in every imaginable activity, playing music from age 3, sports from age 4, and school from age 5. But this exploration of my identity continued well past my early childhood. In high school I joined every team or group I could, from varsity football to all-state choir. In college I continued this trend, becoming president of a fraternity, a student senator, and reactivating the pre-law group on campus-as well as participating in a number of other student groups.

It wasn’t until recently, however, that I began to formulate an answer for the question of my torn identity. In the past year and a half I have worked for one of New Mexico’s most successful lobbying firms, Mark Duran & Associates, Inc. This experience has opened my eyes to the unique intermingling of cultures and ways of life in my home state. It was truly a learning experience working for a Hispanic lobbyist who acts as an intermediary between Native Americans and the government. While preparing proposals and petitions to legislators and government officials on behalf of different tribes, and also researching the fiscal and social impacts of legislation, I was given a chance to see the needs of each tribe and the projects that they found truly important. One of those projects was a wellness center for the Santa Fe Indian School, owned and operated by 19 pueblos of New Mexico. This wellness center, which is currently under construction, will provide a place for the children of these 19 tribes to come together in a safe, friendly environment, and give them the ability to participate in activities in which they wouldn’t normally. Even though these 19 distinct and unique communities have shared a past of inter-tribal conflict and strife, they were able to come together for the collective goal of connecting their people and giving their children the opportunity for a brighter future. Conceived by Native Americans, proposed and lobbied for by Hispanics, and supported by Caucasian, Native American, African-American, and Hispanic legislators, this project united people from many different walks of life for the improvement of our community.

Through this experience I began to understand the greater world around me which has in turn helped me repair my sense of conflicted identity. I have learned that character can’t be identified by just one trait, like the color of a person’s skin. Growing up as a Hispanic and a Caucasian, I was raised with a peculiar sense of skin color, but this also made me acutely aware of the extraordinary similarities between all people. While we may look different on the outside, we are all alike underneath, and we all have very similar wants and needs. I also saw that the objectives of improving the community and coming together for a common goal are more important than the conflicts of the past. It is amazing what the people of this world can accomplish when we can reconcile our past and find a common purpose-a greater goal. When I saw the fusion of cultures surrounding the goal of building the wellness center, I realized that measuring the customs and background of an individual or a group based on surface characteristics and past impressions alone is an exercise in futility–an attempt to judge a house by the condition of one brick.

This understanding has helped me make sense of my own “torn” identity. In taking stock of my mixed heritage and experiencing the intersection of cultures in my home state, I suddenly realized that I am not a person torn between two worlds, but rather a person connecting communities–bridging worlds. So although my parents weren’t together for the vast majority of my life, they did manage to create at least one happy marriage: the embodied combination of their physical and mental traits, the marriage of their genes. They may have burned the bridge they once shared, but in doing so they actually created a bridge–me. It is my responsibility to reconcile that past and the conflict I felt in my own life and bridge that with a future goal that can unite all of the facets of my personality. It was in this that I found my identity and greater purpose, and now realize my even greater potential.

This passion I have for connecting people and creating understanding also explains my interest in studying law. When people think about law, visions of contentious lawyers and heated arguments run through their minds, but they fail to see a completely different aspect to law. Law may be confrontational in some ways, but it also gives people the foundation necessary to live harmoniously with each other. This, after all, is the very essence of law. Thomas Hobbes described law as a social contract into which every person enters upon becoming a member of society. For Hobbes, law by its very nature requires that each man “lay down his right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men as he would allow other men against himself.” The body of laws that governs our behavior allows us the opportunity to live together peacefully. In a sense, law acts as bridge between individuals and a bridge between the government and the governed. This is a bridge to which everyone should have access.

Using my legal education from __________________, I hope to help people cross that bridge who wouldn’t normally be able to do so. With a background in law I will be able to effectively lobby for the disadvantaged in my community and give them a voice in the chambers of government and justice. From early in my life I have sought to improve the community around me by improving various groups, but I understand now that the best way I can improve my community is to improve myself. I plan to do this by learning law and giving myself the tools necessary to ensure that the world my children inherit isn’t one that chooses to ignore our common problems, but rather one that can resolve the past and look towards a better future. Like the law itself, I am a bridge. I am a bridge between two different cultures, a bridge between groups and individuals, and a bridge between the creative world of art and music and the analytical world of law and politics.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once dreamed that “one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.” He had a dream that even these men could look past their differences and build their own bridge. I am excited and enthusiastic about studying law and I dream of using my experiences to assist people in not only building bridges around them, but finding the ones that already exist within.

Neelio
Posts: 530
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 10:21 am

Re: Critique? Perhaps?

Postby Neelio » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:37 am

You have a very intereting background, and your desire to be in law 'for all the right reasons' shows through. I really didn't like the quote at the end. it came off as disingenuous and superfluous. but outside of that great work.

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Gefuehlsecht
Posts: 113
Joined: Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:20 am

Re: Critique? Perhaps?

Postby Gefuehlsecht » Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:24 am

What the heck is a bridge-me? While you think about that go ahead and toss out the dreadful quotes and trim this down a lot. Way too much fluff about your parents and your background. It was funny until you started talking about your mother's big feet, everything after that started to get tedious quickly. I don't really care if your mother was interested in math and the sciences etc. Does it really concern the reader if your father had a love affair with soccer? This isn't a parental statement so leave it out. Most interesting part was the bit about the wellness center. I'd expand on that.

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jonas586
Posts: 90
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:21 am

Re: Critique? Perhaps?

Postby jonas586 » Sat Mar 20, 2010 3:09 pm

Your writing is smooth and easy to follow, and I thought you did an excellent job conveying personal descriptions, feelings, and experiences throughout. At the core of your narrative is a struggle of identity; a conflict more than a crisis in which you vacillate constantly between two appealing "lifestyles". Your struggle was mature and absent of whiney undertones that can sometimes detract from a personal statement.

Having said that, I think your statement could be further improved by condensing it down to about half the size. The narrative is frustrated in places by an abundance information and should be tightened. The concluding 4 paragraphs could also be cut and combined to make a more concise ending. For example, you could probably take this paragraph:
merryo wrote:This passion I have for connecting people and creating understanding also explains my interest in studying law. When people think about law, visions of contentious lawyers and heated arguments run through their minds, but they fail to see a completely different aspect to law. Law may be confrontational in some ways, but it also gives people the foundation necessary to live harmoniously with each other. This, after all, is the very essence of law. Thomas Hobbes described law as a social contract into which every person enters upon becoming a member of society. For Hobbes, law by its very nature requires that each man “lay down his right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men as he would allow other men against himself.” The body of laws that governs our behavior allows us the opportunity to live together peacefully. In a sense, law acts as bridge between individuals and a bridge between the government and the governed. This is a bridge to which everyone should have access.

and condense it down to this:
merryo wrote:This passion I have for connecting people and creating understanding also explains my interest in studying law. The law acts as bridge between individuals and a bridge between the government and the governed. This is a bridge to which everyone should have access.

Or this:
merryo wrote:Martin Luther King, Jr. once dreamed that “one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.” He had a dream that even these men could look past their differences and build their own bridge. I am excited and enthusiastic about studying law and I dream of using my experiences to assist people in not only building bridges around them, but finding the ones that already exist within.

to this:
merryo wrote:I am excited and enthusiastic about studying law and I dream of using my experiences to assist people in not only building bridges around them, but finding the ones that already exist within.

These are just suggestions, of course, but you get idea: condense. There are several places within your PS where you can effectively do this without compromising the message, while also improving the flow.

shoop
Posts: 327
Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:52 pm

Re: Critique? Perhaps?

Postby shoop » Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:02 pm

I copied this into Word and double-spaced it and you're pushing 5 pages. Unless this is for the Berkeley 4-pager, you really need to cut the length in half.

blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 am

Re: Critique? Perhaps?

Postby blsingindisguise » Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:47 pm

You're a good writer but you need to SERIOUSLY condense the beginning stuff about your family -- it's really hard to tell where it's going. It should not take more than a paragraph to get to the point.




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