Any thoughts, suggestions?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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DeanMoriarty
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:07 am

Any thoughts, suggestions?

Postby DeanMoriarty » Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:04 pm

Hello All,

I am new to the forum and have read a few personal statements posted here. This seems to be a community of competent applicants and I would appreciate your feedback on a personal statement that I have been developing.

Please let me know what you think. (Unless you hate it, I can't stand rejection...)


Sitting on the floor, we mopped our plates with gritty, state-subsidized bread. Mohammed lit yet another Cleopatra cigarette while his baby daughter, Malak, squirmed in his lap. I was staying with an Egyptian family for a week in one of the many dull, unfinished, red brick apartments that comprise the outskirts of Cairo. After the meal, Mohammed’s sister Salma addressed me with a deeply personal question: “Why don’t Americans like Muslims?”

I grew up in a homogeneous atmosphere with little exposure to unfamiliar cultures. Discussions of politics were foreign to my family’s dinner table and I unwittingly believed that my civic duty ended at voting every four years. However, I changed my perspective through education, an encounter with a conservative religious group, and a semester spent in the Mid-East. These experiences sparked an interest in law within me, fundamentally changing my outlook on the “other” as well as the privileges and responsibilities that accompany United States citizenship.

I had to learn the value of education for myself. My father left college after two years for trade school and my mother stayed at home to raise her children. My first years of college were a struggle; I had little guidance and was left to forge my own path.
At that time I attended a fundamentalist Christian church obsessed with the belief that the modern state of Israel holds divine rights to land in the Mid-East. Immersed in its teachings, I conceived a distorted picture of Israel, Muslims and the political realities of the region. The church urged me to drop out of college and congratulated me when I did. For a year I dedicated myself to learning as much as possible about the Mid-East, eventually teaching from the pulpit. One fiery speech in particular loomed in my mind long after I delivered it. I had denounced Arab Muslims, preaching that they were stealing Israel’s land. The encouragement I had received from the church’s leadership for my malevolent message troubled me for weeks.

Disenchanted with the mission of the church, I returned to college to finish my undergraduate education. I studied the history, religion and politics of the Mid-East and worked with professors to tailor a major aimed at these goals. I attacked my education with renewed vigor, seizing the opportunity to learn history from bright professors with different perspectives. By removing myself from the church and viewing the conflict from a different perspective I saw the detrimental effects of misinformation and how easily two opposing sides of an issue can arrive at an impasse.

The culmination of my education was the semester I spent living in a densely packed neighborhood outside of Cairo’s city center and traveling throughout the Mid-East. I awoke to the call of prayer blared on thousands of tinny speakers across the city, studied Arabic with local teachers, taught English to Sudanese refugees, and discussed Islam with Muslim peers. I learned the oppressive nature of the Egyptian government—how average citizens lack the legal or political power to change their circumstances. This elicited within me an appreciation for the United States’ legal system and the will to work on behalf of the underrepresented.

“Why don’t Americans like Muslims?” Salma’s question jolted me and sent my mind racing. I was upset by her inquiry as I had once fit this characterization. The misguided teaching of my past church flashed before my eyes as I considered all I had learned. I had grown to respect the kindness and strength of my Egyptian hosts in the face of political helplessness. I understood the value of viewing an issue from multiple perspectives before dispensing judgment. I learned not only about the failings of the Egyptian government but also the virtues of the United States government and my opportunities to affect positive change. Such lessons have pointed me towards studying law at St. Thomas and the school’s focus on community service and its substantial record with Public Interest Law.

sophielia
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:56 pm

Re: Any thoughts, suggestions?

Postby sophielia » Sat Oct 30, 2010 4:16 pm

-description in the first paragraph is interesting but it takes up valuable space. It would be improved by being shortened and tied to your statement's theme
-three paragraph is too long. You're making 2 basic points you can get them across in fewer sentences.
-Let's hear more about your transition from the church back to college. What exactly made you change your mind? This is very interesting.
-How did you become a student?
- What are your academic achievement?

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DeanMoriarty
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:07 am

Re: Any thoughts, suggestions?

Postby DeanMoriarty » Mon Nov 01, 2010 9:43 pm

Thanks Sophielia.

I'll take your points into consideration.




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