Small Town, Big Family Diversity Statement

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
shoop
Posts: 327
Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:52 pm

Small Town, Big Family Diversity Statement

Postby shoop » Wed Sep 29, 2010 2:20 am

I'm thinking of going complete at Duke with this ballsy one-pager as my ONLY statement in the next few days in hopes that a Priority Track acceptance will calm my nerves enough to get my unrelated personal statement finished and applications submitted to other schools.

My numbers are solid for Duke, so I'll less interested in commentary on this unorthodox strategy than I am in your comments on how I can tweak this to be an effective diversity statement for the rest of the T14.



I am the eldest of the nine surviving children of an ex-con turned road construction worker and a homemaker whose last formal employment was a cashiering gig in ‘85. The first eighteen years of my life unfolded in a small house with a big yard in a tiny town where beat-up pickup trucks far outnumber BMWs, camouflage doubles as church clothes, and “redneck” is tossed around as a compliment, not a slur. More of my hometown peers have gone to Iraq or to jail than to graduate school, and at our five year reunion, more of my high school classmates had babies or wedding rings than had four-year degrees. The only two major thoroughfares in no-stoplight [Hometown] intersect at right angles and diverge in every cardinal direction, but I knew by the time I could drive that neither of them could take me to anywhere I wanted to go.

I will never regret fleeing the place I was born, but I could never rue the circumstances of my birth. For the fact that my resume and transcripts do not betray my humble roots, I credit my parents. When there are ten hungry mouths to one blue collar paycheck, mere survival is a task more demanding than any white collar job, and this precarious reality precluded for my mother and father everything from friends to hobbies to notions of personal career fulfillment. [John and Jane Doe] were too busy making ends meet to serve as role models for the path I’ve chosen, but taught me by example everything I needed to know about tenacity, honest hard work, and prioritizing the things that really matter in life. Guided by a deep faith that I respect but do not share (yes, that one), Mom and Dad subordinated their personal dreams and ambitions to the supreme feat of giving the next generation the opportunities they never had.

Seizing those opportunities is the only way I could ever do justice to my parents’ sacrifices, and in strictly quantifiable terms, I have perhaps already succeeded in this. By the time I was 22--my mother’s age when she married and brought me into this world--I’d earned my family’s first bachelor’s degree and was bringing home larger paychecks than my father’s. I have already accomplished more than what society, statistics, and even fellow students might expect from someone of my pedigree, but I am not content to have my achievements described in relation to the obstacles I have overcome. To become the best lawyer ever born in northern [Bumfuck] County or to put up a good showing in the [Doe] clan’s first grad school go-around will not suffice: I come to law school in pursuit of absolute and unqualified excellence by Duke’s standards, not [Hometown's].

WhirledWorld
Posts: 331
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:04 am

Re: Small Town, Big Family Diversity Statement

Postby WhirledWorld » Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:08 pm

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Last edited by WhirledWorld on Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Re: Small Town, Big Family Diversity Statement

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:20 pm

This is a very good personal statement in some, but not all, respects. I do not understand, and was offended by, your parenthetical denigrating side comment "(yes that one)" and would, if it were my decision, reject you based on that remark.
"Seizing those opportunities...". What opportunities ? Why is the word "those" in that sentence ?
Also your reasoning seems amiss when you declare that your parents were too busy making ends meet to be role models for your future career. I think that one of us misunderstands the meaning of the term "role model".
Overall I wonder whether readers will like you after reading this essay. Certainly you have presented yourself as insensitive, if not snobbish.

P.S. "betray" or "portray" my humble roots ?

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

Re: Small Town, Big Family Diversity Statement

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:42 pm

P.S. I've read through several of your earlier posts & now realize that your personal statement presents you as you are. This may be a good thing in that whichever law schools accept you will understand that you stand in favor of truth-in-packaging.
It would be interesting to read why you think that your proposed personal statement is "ballsy". It portrays you as crude & insensitive as well as judgmental, but, judging from your prior posts, that is who you are. Truthfulness is not necessarily "ballsy". And your essay is well written. You may want to rethink your goal, however, as this writing is unlikely to win over admissions officers, in my opinion. It would, nevertheless, be a great piece for a creative writing class.

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

Re: Small Town, Big Family Diversity Statement

Postby shoop » Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:16 pm

Thanks to everyone who has actually read this. After feedback from co-workers and friends, I'd already decided to make a couple of the suggested changes. I took out the Catholic bit (yes, it compelled my parents to have more kids than they could really afford, but also motivated them to sacrifice a LOT to raise those kids right). I fixed the precluded sentence.

My parents were good role models as far as showing me how to be a decent human being and a good mother, but have never had professional jobs themselves. Many applicants have at least one parent who worked in something other than the manual labor sector, and I do think there is some unquantifiable benefit to having grown up seeing your parents do the type/class of work you aspire to, in terms of picking up behaviors/habits/ways of speaking or acting. I didn't necessarily have that.

My parents are perfectly smart and hard working, and my dad even tried to go get an AA in management because it would open the doors to better-paying supervisory jobs, but the costs of tuition and the opportunity cost of missing work meant they really couldn't make it work. I don't want to get down to numbers in the actual statement, but they're surviving on about $40,000 a year with 5 minors still at home. There's not a lot of wiggle room.

Which opportunities? Mostly, the opportunity to go to college. It wasn't an option for either of them, but they've worked really hard to make sure my siblings and I are positioned as well as possible at the end of high school to make that jump to the kind of life a bachelors degree+ can help you attain. They couldn't really advise on specifics of applying/attending, but kept me on track throughout a turbulent childhood and stressed the importance of doing well in school.

I stand behind "betray" my humble roots. To the casual observer looking at my transcript and resume, there's nothing to suggest that I had any fewer resources backing up my efforts. "First generation college kid from middle-of-nowhere" is not likely the first thing anyone would guess looking at me on paper.

I'm actually beefing this up to 2 pages and making it my omni-statement for all schools... no separate PS/DS. I'll post that once it's drafted out.

Does everyone still think I'm male?




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