I'm pretty lost, help needed

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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thedude221
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I'm pretty lost, help needed

Postby thedude221 » Mon Aug 30, 2010 5:06 pm

Okay, its been slow going and I haven't really had the 'aha!' moment for how to go about writing my personal statement. I had most of a first draft posted earlier that centered mostly around me taking care of my mom but that was blasted as 'one dimensional' and self-pitying. Of things that I could possibly write compellingly about myself include the fact that I'm an atheist, had to take care of my mom for most of undergrad until she died, took up a sociology double major to learn more about violence against women as that was my mom's focus when she was alive and that is something I'm interested in addressing in the legal field, I'm inspired by the life and works of William Brennan, I once interned at the ACLU, going to graduate a year early, uhhhh thats about it. I don't want my PS to sound like an attempt at pity but dealing with my moms illness is about the only thing i've done of consequence. Writing about that does however make it difficult to bring it up in an addendum about my lack of resume since I don't want to seem like im belaboring the point.

Any input would be extremely appreciated.

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ArchRoark
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Re: I'm pretty lost, help needed

Postby ArchRoark » Mon Aug 30, 2010 5:24 pm

Writing about how your moms illness and eventual death affected you is imho a ripe topic. It is all about HOW you write about it. Don't focus on the traumatic events but on the growth afterward. What did you take away from it? What do you want the adcomms know about you? Perseverance through tough situations? Develop a solid image of a person who can succeed in law school.

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thedude221
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Re: I'm pretty lost, help needed

Postby thedude221 » Mon Aug 30, 2010 6:12 pm

Writing about how your moms illness and eventual death affected you is imho a ripe topic. It is all about HOW you write about it. Don't focus on the traumatic events but on the growth afterward. What did you take away from it? What do you want the adcomms know about you? Perseverance through tough situations? Develop a solid image of a person who can succeed in law school.


I was thinking along those same lines, with perseverance along with hard working and responsible being my sort of selling points. But if I chose to write about that could also bring up my intellectual curiosity even if that wasn't directly brought on my mother's illness or death?

DreamShake
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Re: I'm pretty lost, help needed

Postby DreamShake » Mon Aug 30, 2010 6:29 pm

Yes, although it'll have to be somewhat brief. You could work it in as a complementary factor in your desire to attend law school; it may help present a richer image of you, beyond dealing with your mother's illness.

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ArchRoark
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Re: I'm pretty lost, help needed

Postby ArchRoark » Mon Aug 30, 2010 6:30 pm

thedude221 wrote: But if I chose to write about that could also bring up my intellectual curiosity even if that wasn't directly brought on my mother's illness or death?


Sure. As long as it flows and doesn't feel disjointed. Just find a good way to transition or tie it in however slightly.

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thedude221
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Re: I'm pretty lost, help needed

Postby thedude221 » Mon Aug 30, 2010 7:44 pm

This was most of my first draft and I can already see for starters that I should cut the first paragraph and condense most of the rest so that I have more time to talk about myself/growth after her death but are there parts of this that seem salvageable?

Twelve years ago, in a move of uncharacteristic progressivism, the Georgia General Assembly passed a bill requiring all health insurance providers in the state to provide a minimum amount of coverage for patients who underwent a mastectomy or lymph node dissection. The bill’s near unanimous passage might convey the impression that its path to the governor’s desk was an easy one but this proved not to be the case. In actuality moving this legislation from mere proposal to legal reality was as arduous as building skyscrapers from sand. However, its passage was inevitable due in large part to its principal architect and my mother: V**** M*******. It would seem a cruel irony then that only a few years after the triumph of the bills passage my mother would be diagnosed with breast cancer. Her illness and eventual death have had a profound effect on who I am and what I have chosen to become.
My mother’s first bout of cancer began in my early teens. As with any protracted struggle the hardships that had initially seemed so insurmountable became common and mundane. Walking three miles to get groceries or comforting her through a drug-fueled delusion was as routine as doing homework or taking out the trash. This went on for a number of years until she finally went into remission. This healthy period proved to be short lived when on my niece’s birthday my mother stepped off her cub and felt an ominous pop. An x-ray showed that the cancer had returned and metastasized to her right hip, cracking it in the process. This made moving without the use of a wheel chair an impossibility and so the responsibility was placed upon me to escort her to all of her doctor’s appointments, PET scans, and chemotherapy treatments. There is an often-heard mantra that one does ‘battle’ with cancer but for anyone who has ever been impacted by this unforgiving disease the reality is that cancer more resembles a form of passive torture. While my mother often claimed that she was fighting her disease it became evident to me during our trips to the hospital that she was consumed by helplessness.
My mother’s condition had a great bearing on the studies that I chose to pursue in school. While I had always been interested in politics my mother’s struggle with her illness had recalibrated my focus more narrowly towards social justice. Leading up to my mother’s cancer diagnoses she had been without health insurance nearly all of her life and this fact (unsurprisingly) had a major impact on her choice to delay getting checked. The bitterness which I felt from this injustice would eventually calcify into a persistent conviction to see that this did not happen again.
Like all Americans my perceptions of what is ‘supposed’ to happen in the most trying moments of our lives are greatly influenced by movies and television. So it was of great surprise to me when I found my last moments with my mother to be quite undramatic. Our last few conversations weren’t conversations at all as at the end she had a brain tumor that prevented her from speaking. Most of what I said were really just variations on ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I love you’ that last meaningful goodbye filled with poignant dialogue escaping me all the while. When I was told on an early March morning that she had finally died I felt what could possibly be described as shock, although the feeling was far less impressive than I had expected. It might seem odd that only a few days after my mother’s death I was returning my focus to my research on cap-and-dividend legislation but the initial lack of trauma had left me we with no obvious alternative. While I had expected to be devastated, the wrecking ball of sorrow had never come. As an atheist I had always believed death to be the end but this was true to me only in the abstract. I expected that when finally faced with the death of a loved one my conviction would be shaken, as it appeared to me that if there are ‘no atheists in foxholes’ then there are no atheists in hospus waiting rooms either

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Marionberry
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Re: I'm pretty lost, help needed

Postby Marionberry » Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:02 pm

This is kind of a downer. I've been told that you want your PS to be somewhat positive and uplifting, and at the very least satisfying to the reader. I don't get those feelings when I read this. And at the end, when you talk about not experiencing any real devastation after your mother's death, and then quickly returning to life as usual....I don't know about that. Also, atheism is kind of controversial, and maybe a risky subject to bring up in a PS. One would think that adcomms would be enlightened and objective enough to not be bothered by open discussion someone's spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof), but I don't know if I would bet on it. I may be wrong, so I'm interested to see what others think.




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