Personal Statement

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Adrian Yale
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Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:42 pm

Personal Statement

Postby Adrian Yale » Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:48 pm

There is a new version of the ps in the 7th post


Working on this piece of... work. Leave some feedback if it tickles your fancy - thanks in advance.

In writing about a crucial moment with my father or my aspirations, I must write about both. While seemingly out of the ordinary, I have come to learn that both the defining moment of my life and my life’s purpose cannot exist without each other. While my purpose is certainly important to me, it pales in comparison to the effects of a short childhood moment over twelve years ago. On a clear and beautiful Saturday morning, as my father felled a dead tree, I came across a particularly burdensome log which I struggled to lift. Noticing, my father helped and then gave me a most important life lesson, stating: “Don’t worry: It’s the effort that counts.” Shortly thereafter, I watched as he passed away, my mother stricken with the decision to pull the plug after the doctors gave their grave advice.

My father raised me to believe that I could do anything as long as I gave my fullest effort. As I finished high school, I aspired to attend the University of Michigan. Many of my counterparts scoffed at the idea because nearly no one in our rural and humble town of Ortonville attended the prestigious school. However, within two years after transferring I became a Peer Advisor at the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and began an Honors Thesis. I felt relieved knowing that I had beaten the odds after growing up in a less than wealthy rural community and losing any semblance of normalcy after my father’s accident.

One particular winter evening, I arrived at my UROP evening seminar and prepared to lead a discussion regarding a controversial case in which a railroad company attempted to use genetic testing to find predispositions for carpel tunnel syndrome in many of its employees: Many of the railroad laborers had developed symptoms, and the company became interested in liability. After showing a twenty minute documentary on the situation, I embarked on over an hour of discussion with the students. We covered a wealth of topics, ranging from the ethics of genetic testing in the workplace to employer medical responsibility. While both leading the discussion and considering the topics, my mind raced: I felt enthused, fascinated, even stupefied. In the following weeks, I considered many related issues, such as difficult end of life decisions to research suggesting that fMRI techniques can reveal intentions. By covering additional topics in seminar and discussing my interest with my Honors Thesis Advisor, I became more and more convinced that I had struck gold. Enthralled, I spent many nights lying awake contemplating whether I had finally found my passions in teaching and academic work after four years of undergraduate study. Indeed, I had. My effort paid off.

Over the next few months, I continuously explored my new interest and identified it as the multidisciplinary field of health, bioethics, and law. Through it, I hope to teach and pursue both professional and academic work. In reflection of both my past and current work, I believe that the intricate intersections between these disciplines shall become increasingly important in our lives not just in academia but also in the lives of everyday Americans. Difficult late life decisions, dangerous but needed emergency treatments, and information privacy issues affect health care institutions and patients alike. Issues such as these require individuals who are dedicated to and are capable of delivering needed counsel when they arise. Indeed, my purpose revolves in part around providing such counsel in clinical settings. These goals also include developing protocol for dealing with novel issues as they arise, which stimulates the more academic side of my interests. For instance, researchers recently created synthetic life and others developed a protocol for predicting intentions using fMRI technology. These research breakthroughs raise difficult, complex, and controversial topics and questions that evoke my passion. How will governments regulate ownership of bio-artificial organs, such as synthetic kidneys? What information gleaned by fMRI technologies will we consider private? These issues do not occur in a vacuum; rather, in an emotionally and politically loaded context, they require grounded multidisciplinary interpretation. As such, I look forward to learning from Professors David Barnard and Alan Meisel, whose work in end of life decisions and informed medical consent spark my enthusiasm. In addition, Lisa Parker and I share research interests in ethical concerns in novel scientific research, particularly in genetics; I look forward to working with her in the future. I feel confident in my ability to communicate my ideas, especially after completing many research projects and my Honors Thesis. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder how I arrived here. The answer is short: Effort has compelled every aspiration; now, my central aspiration, my purpose, is clear. The joint law and bioethics degree will allow me to pursue such work and give back to the institution that afforded me the opportunity.

While it is bittersweet that my father’s death has ingrained his words in me, my effort has served me well. Enduring effort further sets me apart from other applicants and fundamentally underlies the components of my purpose: Teaching and both professional and academic work in bioethics, health, and law. Indeed, I cannot speak about one without the other. Without my effort, I would not be the applicant that I am. I do not believe that my goals would be as lofty nor my plan for obtaining them as strong. I likely would not have become a Peer Advisor, earned a 3.9 GPA after transferring, nor completed an Honors Thesis. Most fundamentally, I do not believe that I could have recovered the way I have after my father’s horrific injury and death. With the lesson, I can assure my undying effort to the betterment of the University of Pittsburgh, the legal profession, and my purpose. As a unique individual, I will continue to mold and adapt his simple but significant lesson in order to become a leading voice regarding the intricate and complex bioethical, health, and research legal issues that will likely affect us all. The University of Pittsburgh’s joint degree in bioethics and law certainly requires this drive, and I am ready to contribute with vigor.
Last edited by Adrian Yale on Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

xyzzzzzzzz
Posts: 463
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:28 pm

Re: Personal Statement

Postby xyzzzzzzzz » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:13 pm

.
Last edited by xyzzzzzzzz on Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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philosoraptor
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Re: Personal Statement

Postby philosoraptor » Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:07 pm

xy(z*8), the capital letter after a colon is a style-dependent rule, not a universal one. AP style, for example, mandates a capital letter to start a complete sentence (never a fragment) after a colon. Since you aren't using AP style, OP, you can lowercase it, but make sure you do the same for "it's" in the first graf and "many" in the third.

This has potential, but you need to work on de-puffing your writing. It reads as though you were desperate to meet a minimum word count and stuffed in as many adjectives and adverbs as you could think of. Also, paragraph breaks are your friend!

Here are my initial thoughts:

Adrian Yale wrote:In writing about a crucial moment with my father or my aspirations, I must write about both. [These little "meta" openings are annoying in speeches, and even more so in writing. Don't use them as a crutch.] While seemingly out of the ordinary, I [You are seemingly out of the ordinary? What?] have come to learn that both ["both X and Y" is rarely a necessary construction] the defining moment of my life and my life’s purpose cannot exist without each other. [I doubt this is as deep as you appear to think it is.] While my purpose is certainly important to me, it pales in comparison to the effects of a short childhood moment over twelve years ago. [<-- You could basically cut everything before this point, and it would be an improvement.] On a clear and beautiful Saturday morning, as my father felled a dead tree, I came across a particularly burdensome log which I struggled to lift. Noticing, my father helped and then gave me a most important life lesson, stating: “Don’t worry: It’s the effort that counts.” Shortly thereafter, I watched as he passed away, my mother stricken with the decision [You can't be stricken with a decision. Perhaps she was stricken with grief at the decision?] to pull the plug after the doctors gave their grave advice. [I'd avoid anything remotely punny here, intentional or not.]

My father raised me to believe that I could do anything as long as I gave my fullest effort. As I finished high school, I aspired to attend the University of Michigan. Many of my counterparts scoffed at the idea because nearly no one in from our rural and humbletown of Ortonville had gone thereattended the prestigious school. However, within two years after transferring, I became a Peer Advisor [no caps for fake titles] at the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and began an Honors Thesis [no caps]. I felt relieved knowing that I had beaten the odds after growing up in a less than wealthyrural community and losing any semblance of normalcy after my father’s accident.

One particular winter evening, I arrived at my UROP evening seminar and prepared to leadand led a discussion regardingon a controversial case in which a railroad company attempted to use genetic testing to find predispositions for carpel [carpal] tunnel syndrome in many of its employees: Many of the railroad laborers had developed symptoms, and the company became interested in liability. After showinga twenty minute [hyphenate] documentary on the situation, I embarked on over an hour of discussion with the students. We covered we discussed a wealth of topics, ranging from including the ethics of genetic testing in the workplace to and employer medical responsibility. [No false ranges!] While both leading the discussion and considering the topics, my mind raced: I felt enthused, fascinated, even stupefied [don't think you want to imply that this discussion made you groggy]. In the following weeks, I considered many related issues, such as difficult end of life [hyphenate] decisions to and research suggesting that fMRI techniques can reveal intentions. By covering additional topics in seminar and discussing my interest with my Honors Thesis Advisor [no caps for fake titles], I became more and moreconvinced that I had struck gold. Enthralled, I spent many nights lying awake contemplating whether I had finally found my passions in teaching and academic work after four years of undergraduate study. Indeed, I had. My effort paid off.

Over the next few months, I continuouslyexplored my new interest and identified it as the multidisciplinary field of health, bioethics, and law. Through it, I hope to teach and pursue both professional and academic work [You do realize how pie-in-the-sky this would be coming from a top-10 school, let alone Pitt, right?]. In reflection of both my past and current work,I believe that the intricate intersections between these disciplines shall will become increasingly important in everyday lifeour lives not just in academia but also in the lives of everyday Americans. Difficult late life [hyphenate] decisions [as opposed to easy ones?], dangerous but needed emergency treatments, and informationprivacy issues affect health care [hyphenate] institutions and patients alike. [Any evidence you care to share about why these issues will affect everyday life even more than they already do?] Issues such as these require individuals who are dedicated to and are capable of delivering needed counsel when they arise. Indeed, my purpose revolves in part around providing such My goal is someday to provide counsel on these issues in clinical settings. TheseMy goals also include developing protocol for dealing with novel issues as they arise, which stimulates the more academic side of my interests. For instance, researchers recently created synthetic life and others developed a protocol for predicting intentions using fMRI technology. These research breakthroughs raise difficult,complex, and controversial topics and questionsthat evoke my passion. How will governments regulate ownership of bio-artificial organs, such as synthetic kidneys? What information gleaned by fMRI technologies will we consider private? These issues do not occur in a vacuum; rather, in an emotionally and politically loaded context, they require grounded, [comma] multidisciplinary interpretation. As such, [NOT a synonym for "because of this"] I look forward to learning from Professors [no cap] David Barnard and Alan Meisel, whose work in end of life [hyphenate] decisions and informed medical consent spark my enthusiasm. In addition, Lisa Parker and I share research interests in ethical concerns in novel scientific research, particularly in genetics; I look forward to working with her in the future. [Be very careful about putting yourself on the same level as a professor. This comes off as presumptuous and arrogant.] I feel confident in my ability to communicate my ideas, especially after completing many research projects and my Honors Thesis [no caps]. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder how I arrived here. The answer is short: Effort has compelled every aspiration; now, my central aspiration, my purpose, is clear.The joint law and bioethics degree will allow me to pursue such work and give back to the institution that afforded me the opportunity [what?].

While it is bittersweet that my father’s death has ingrained his words in me, my effort has served me well. Enduring effort further sets me apart from other applicants and fundamentally underlies the components of my purpose: Teaching and both professional and academic work in bioethics, health, and law. Indeed, I cannot speak about one without the other. Without my effort, I would not be the applicant that I am. I do not believe that my goals would be as lofty nor my plan for obtaining them as strong. I likely would not have become a Peer Advisor, earned a 3.9 GPA after transferring, nor completed an Honors Thesis. Most fundamentally, I do not believe that I could have recovered the way I have after my father’s horrific injury and death. With the lesson, I can assure my undying effort to the betterment of the University of Pittsburgh, the legal profession, and my purpose. As a unique individual,I will continue to mold and adapt his simple but significant lesson in order work to become a leading voice regarding on the intricate and complexbioethicals, health, and research legal issues that will likely affect us all. The University of Pittsburgh’s joint degree in bioethics and law certainlyrequires this drive the unyielding work ethic my father instilled in me, and I am ready to contribute with vigor.


At the end, I'm still not sure why your father's quote, which seems to encourage you to value effort over results, is appropriate for a budding lawyer, but if it's the best hook you've got, I guess it could work.

Adrian Yale
Posts: 63
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:42 pm

Re: Personal Statement

Postby Adrian Yale » Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:05 pm

Thanks a lot for the feedback.

Speaking of "de-puffing", the style is starting to look more like the one that I wrote with in my Umich ps. Amer Psych Association and their dull research writing style must have caused me to rebel and hit the other wall.

Any other suggestions?

With my fathers quote, I do not want to imply that I value effort over results, although it may seem so. Rather, I want to show that my work ethic is the driving force behind both what I have done and what I will do. Any suggestions there?

CanadianWolf
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Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Personal Statement

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:47 pm

This essay will not help your law school applications. This is, at best, a very rough first draft. Law schools value crisp, clear, concise writing. Ironically, you obviously put in a lot of effort in writing your personal statement, but the end product is not good & might harm your chances for admission to law school in a competitive situation.
A suggestion to improve your writing is to eliminate the entire first paragraph.

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philosoraptor
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Re: Personal Statement

Postby philosoraptor » Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:14 pm

Adrian Yale wrote:Thanks a lot for the feedback.

Speaking of "de-puffing", the style is starting to look more like the one that I wrote with in my Umich ps. Amer Psych Association and their dull research writing style must have caused me to rebel and hit the other wall.

Any other suggestions?

With my fathers quote, I do not want to imply that I value effort over results, although it may seem so. Rather, I want to show that my work ethic is the driving force behind both what I have done and what I will do. Any suggestions there?
You're very welcome.

Couple of things: Don't confuse wordiness (or the use of fancy Latin-based words) with good writing. Your draft was not the opposite of a "dull research writing style." Crisp sentences and concise anecdotes will impress adcomms a lot more than unwieldy phrases and rambling stories -- that's what I'm trying to help with.

My only issue with using your work ethic as the main theme is that it minimizes the role of intelligence and creativity and all that stuff. Everyone can work hard; doing so does not make you special. Don't get me wrong, it's cool that your dad's words stuck with you and inspired you, but just because it's important to you doesn't mean it's worth the subject of a PS unless you can write the hell out of it. So focus on what makes you unique, and I'll bet everything will flow more naturally.

Adrian Yale
Posts: 63
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:42 pm

Re: Personal Statement

Postby Adrian Yale » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:15 am

I've modified the statement in light of the comments -

1. the personal story contained in the first graph no longer has two main themes (effort and my father) anymore. I've tried to use one theme (seeing a billboard that reminds me of my personal loss/recovery/etc). I hope that taking the emphasis from effort lets my growth, passion, and purpose stand out a bit more (these are a bit more unique to me). Does anyone feel that the first paragraph needs a final sentence to provide direction in the statement? More importantly, is this modified theme feasible? Does it stand out and make sense to you?

2. I've cleaned up a bit of the writing. Like I said, constantly writing in duller research tones likely caused me to lash out with... just take a look at the first statement and you'll understand.

3. Is the last graph needed? I could see myself cutting it because the statement may not need it. However, it does add some closure to the statement, especially since I did not do so in the 1st graph.

4. Last thing - does the statement have enough of a unifying theme? In reading it, I feel like this may not be the case. I'm trying to use the life loss ---> life purpose route, and I hope that it is apparent enough.

Anyway, thanks again for any suggestions.


I glanced at the highway billboards and saw a life insurance advertisement stating: “Dad, what will happen now that you’re gone?” The child looked no older than 12, nearly the same age as I when my life shattered. On a clear and beautiful Saturday morning, I watched my father fell limbs from a dead tree. After a freak accident, I watched as he passed away, my mother stricken with grief at the decision of pulling the plug after the doctors gave their advice. Looking at the billboard, I saw myself after the accident: A son terrified of a future without his hero.

My father raised me to believe that I could do anything as long as I gave my fullest effort. As I finished high school, I aspired to attend the University of Michigan. However, our financial situation did not help. Many of my counterparts scoffed at the idea because nearly no one from our rural town of Ortonville had gone there. However, within two years after transferring there, I became a peer advisor at the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and began an honors thesis. I felt relieved knowing that I had beaten the odds after growing up in a rural community and losing any semblance of normalcy after my father’s accident.

One winter evening, I arrived at my UROP seminar and led a discussion on a controversial case in which Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad attempted to use genetic testing to find predispositions for carpal tunnel syndrome in some of its employees: Many of the railroad laborers had developed symptoms, and the company became interested in liability. After a twenty-minute documentary on the situation, we discussed topics including the ethics of genetic testing in the workplace and employer medical responsibility. While leading the discussion and considering the topics, my mind raced: I felt enthused and fascinated.

In the following weeks, I considered many related issues, such as end-of-life decisions and research suggesting that fMRI techniques can reveal intentions. By covering additional topics in seminar and discussing my interest with my honors thesis advisor, I became convinced that I had struck gold. Enthralled, I spent many nights lying awake contemplating whether I had finally found my passions in teaching and academic work after four years of undergraduate study. Indeed, I had.

Over the next few months, I explored my new interest and identified it as the multidisciplinary field of health, bioethics, and law. Through it, I hope to pursue teaching, professional work, and my research interests. I believe that the intricate intersections between these disciplines are important in everyday life. Late-life decisions, dangerous emergency treatments, and privacy issues affect health-care institutions and patients alike. My goal is to someday provide counsel on these issues in clinical settings. Because of this, I look forward to learning from professors David Barnard and Alan Meisel, whose work in end-of-life decisions and informed medical consent spark my enthusiasm.

My goals also include developing protocol for dealing with novel issues, which stimulates the more academic side of my interests. For instance, researchers recently created synthetic life and others developed a procedure for predicting intentions using fMRI technology. These research breakthroughs raise complex questions. How will governments regulate ownership of bio-artificial organs, such as synthetic kidneys? What information gleaned by fMRI technologies will we consider private? These issues do not occur in a vacuum; rather, in an emotionally and politically loaded context, they require grounded, multidisciplinary interpretation. Lisa Parker and I share research interests in ethical concerns in novel scientific research, particularly in genetics; I look forward to reading more of her work in the future. I feel confident in my ability to communicate my ideas, especially after completing many research projects and my honors thesis. The joint law and bioethics degree will allow me to pursue such work.

Of course, the billboard reminds me of myself twelve years ago: A shattered child frightened by the future. However, it also reminds me of how far I’ve come after my father’s death. While I do wonder about what the future holds, I look forward to moving on with a purpose that I am passionate about: Becoming a leading voice on intricate bioethical issues. I am ready to contribute with vigor in the University of Pittsburgh’s joint degree program in bioethics and law.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Personal Statement

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:04 pm

In my opinion, your revised personal statement is much better than your original essay. This should help your application to law school. Your rewritten personal statement presents you as a likable & interesting person with a purpose for applying to this particular law school. The impact of this writing is heightened by the unifying aspect of your first & final paragraphs. Although very good, it should not be your final product. You might want to consider a very brief explanation of "fMRl techniques" or "fMRl technology". Other changes, if any, should be minor & involve reviewing your choice of words as well as tightening up a few sentences. An example of word choice might involve substituting "driving" for "leading" in your last paragraph. This is mostly personal preference, but I find the use of "leading" to be a bit presumptuous.

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philosoraptor
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Re: Personal Statement

Postby philosoraptor » Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:15 pm

Yep, much tighter. Just some cleanup-type things:

Adrian Yale wrote:I glanced at the highway billboards [let's have a little setup here. just something to set the scene.] and saw a life insurance [hyphenate] advertisement stating: “Dad, what will happen now that you’re gone?” ["stating:" sounds artificially formal. replace with "that said/read," with a comma, not a colon.] The child looked no older than 12, nearly the same age as I was when my life shattered. On a clear and beautiful Saturday morning, I watched my father fell limbs from a dead tree. After a freak accident, I watched as he passed away, my mother stricken with grief at the decision of pulling the plug after the doctors gave their advice, on the advice of his doctors. Looking at the billboard, I saw myself after the accident: A [lowercase. always down to start a fragment after a colon.] son terrified of a future without his hero.

My father raised me to believe that I could do anything as long as I gave my fullest effort. As I finished high school, I aspired to attend the University of Michigan. However, our financial situation did not help. Many of my counterparts scoffed at the idea because nearly no one from our rural town of Ortonville had gone there. However, within two years aAfter transferring there, however, I became a peer advisor [I hate this spelling, but it's fine if that's what the university calls it] at the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and began an honors thesis. I felt relieved knowing that I had beaten the odds after growing up in a rural community and losing any semblance of normalcy after my father’s accident.

One winter evening, I arrived at my UROP seminar and led a discussion on a controversial case in which Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad attempted to use genetic testing to find predispositions for carpal tunnel syndrome in some of its employees: Many of the railroad laborers had developed symptoms, and the company became interested in liability. After a twenty-minute documentary on the situation, we discussed topics including the ethics of genetic testing in the workplace and employer medical responsibility. While leading the discussion and considering the topics, my mind raced: I felt enthused and fascinated.

In the following weeks, I considered many related issues, such as end-of-life decisions and research suggesting that fMRI techniques can reveal intentions. By covering additional topics in seminar and discussing my interest with my honors thesis advisor [bleh], I became convinced that I had struck gold. Enthralled, [we get it -- you like this stuff] I spent many nights lying awake contemplating whether I had finally found my passions in teaching and academic workafter four years of undergraduate study. Indeed, I had.

Over the next few months, I explored my new interest and identified it as the multidisciplinary field of health, bioethics, and law. Through it, I hope to pursue teaching, professional work [do you mean law practice?], and my research interests. I believe that the intricate intersections between among ["between" for two things, "among" for more] these disciplines are important in everyday life. Late-life decisions, dangerous emergency treatments, and privacy issues affect health-care institutions and patients alike. My goal is tosomeday to [not grammatically incorrect, but awkward] provide counsel on these issues in clinical settings. Because of this,I look forward to learning from professors David Barnard and Alan Meisel, whose work in end-of-life decisions and informed medical consent spark my enthusiasm.

My goals also include helping developing protocol for dealing with novel issues, which stimulates the more academic side of my interests. For instance, researchers recently created synthetic life and others developed a procedure for predicting intentions using fMRI technology. These research breakthroughs raise complex questions. How will governments regulate ownership of bio-artificial organs, such as synthetic kidneys? What information gleaned by fMRI technologies will we consider private? These issues do not occur in a vacuum; rather, in an emotionally and politically loaded context, they require grounded, multidisciplinary interpretation. Lisa Parker and I share research interests in ethical concerns in novel scientific research, particularly in genetics; I look forward to reading more of her work in the future [maybe a little too far from your original. perhaps suggest that you look forward to seeking the opportunity to work with her? after all, you can read her work wherever you go.]. I feel confident in my ability to communicate my ideas, especially after completing many research projects and my honors thesis. The joint law and bioethics degree will allow me to pursue such work.

Of course, the billboard reminds me of myself twelve years ago: A [lowercase. see similar case in graf 1.] shattered child frightened by the future. However, But it also reminds me of how far I’ve come after my father’s death. While I do wonder about what the future holds, I look forward to moving on with a purpose that I am passionate about: Becoming [lowercase] a leading voice on intricatebioethical issues. I am ready to contribute with vigor in the University of Pittsburgh’s joint degree program in bioethics and law.

Last graf is solid.

Adrian Yale
Posts: 63
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:42 pm

Re: Personal Statement

Postby Adrian Yale » Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:55 pm

Excellent, thanks for the comments everyone. I appreciate the help.




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