PS - need to submit ASAP - anyone up for a quick read

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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lisavj
Posts: 275
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:42 pm

PS - need to submit ASAP - anyone up for a quick read

Postby lisavj » Fri Nov 12, 2010 1:53 pm

I'm happy to read yours as soon as I send my apps! GPA, 3.79/3.74 LSAC, LSAT 165, applying to Hastings/Berkeley (it's a stretch, a big one, if you're gonna go, go all out is my philosophy).


Found in Translation

I was on the cusp of turning six years old, and I came home from school in tears. We had had our first French lesson, and I firmly believed our teacher didn’t speak English. I remember asking my mother “What if there is a fire and we don’t understand what she is saying?!” After some reassurance, I was convinced to return to school the next day, and to continue learning French in an immersion environment. That day began a now 21-year-old love affair with languages.
In high school, I started Spanish, at least in part so I could have conversations with the person who cleaned the floors at the arboretum where I held a volunteer position. By my sophomore year of college, I added Italian to the mix as my family planned a trip to visit our relatives in Sicily. During my third and final year in college, I became fluent in French during a semester abroad with the [name] fellowship program. By graduation, I had grown to love the intricacies of language; the power of the subjunctive tense, which could convey emotion and urgency in a single conjugation, the fluidity of the romance languages, and the pure mystery of being able to find meaning in what had previously been meaningless. With each new language, I opened a new door of discovery: new cultures, new foods, and a plethora of subtle nuances and phrases.
As I went through college, I found many ways to shape language. I worked in the Governor’s office as an intern for constituent relations, crafting words that would respond to the questions of the public for the governor. At the same time I worked in the [clinic name], listening and rephrasing what often were words of anger from those who felt abandoned by the legal system into words of hope as we found ways to connect them with the help they needed, through mediation, counseling, or simply a sympathetic ear. In my free time, I began to look into inter-religious dialogue, learning from my friends who were Jewish, Muslim and Hindu about the various ways that we interpreted the world.
In seminary, I added Greek and Hebrew to my list of languages. I was able to learn more about my faith, and about the God I worshiped, through the study of original manuscripts. Theology played on the dual meanings of words, and I was introduced to the world of Semitic languages where a single word stem could hold hundreds of meanings depending on its phrasing and placement. The spirit of God became xwr, spirit, breath and wind – with each word containing a new level of meaning. The Bible, a book I had read for so many years took on new life as I plumbed its depths with new tools and compared it to other texts of the time. I learned how its words had been manipulated through the ages, and continued to evolve today through commentary and preaching.
While doing my graduate work, I was able to explore several different fields, and in each I enjoyed the challenge of the translation of my Weltanschauung, my worldview, into each new situation. As a chaplain at a prison, God’s grace became more tangible, and I learned to speak in yet another language – but this time it was a language of compassion for those who some would say deserved no compassion. I spoke of forgiveness to those who deeply desired it, and who did not feel they deserved it. I learned what a Glock was, and how God could speak to someone even when they were about to use one. I spoke with Baptists who taught me how to “preach it sister!” and with inmates sentenced to life who spoke of love. As a youth worker, I learned how to translate the Holy Spirit into jell-o, and spoke of miracles with miracle whip. I invited youth into a world where they could explore their own passions, and learned how to put their own Weltanschauung into words. As a hospital chaplain, I learned the many languages of grief. I saw those who grieved in silence, with tears that ran slowly down their faces, and was sent to chase people who ran through the streets of Camden, New Jersey, screaming their grief to the heavens. I held the hands of those who died, and was hugged by those who lived. I found that sometimes, silence itself could be a language, a statement of solidarity, of shouldering one another’s burdens, and of love.
I was married on August 26, 2006. In the past four years, I have learned the difficulties of communicating, even with someone who is as well known as a spouse. I realized that there are true differences between introverts and extroverts, and I began to recognize how wars could begin over a misplaced comma. I began to put even more work into communication, and found that my relationships - romantic, friendly and familial - were often shaped by words lived into action.
One of my greatest joys in the past six years has been leading youth mission trips, where students are asked to take their personal narrative, and merge it with the vocabulary of another culture. Wealth and poverty are redefined, as youth realize that joy can come from something other than “stuff”, and the word justice is given new meaning as the youth fall in love with children and adults who are living in poverty. Students are confronted with the realities of military juntas in Guatemala, and life in the streets on Skid Row, and together we piece these new realities into the puzzle of human existence.
Of late I have been given the opportunity to return to the French language as a translator for [organization]. In translating the words of women whose lives have been changed by the work of the hospital I was able to rediscover my fascination with language. I translated a proposal for a legal clinic that would work with women who have been raped in the Congo, not through an imposition of western values on the Congolese people, but instead through a cooperative effort with communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this translation, I saw once again how language, this time in the form of a written proposal, could encapsulate hope for a more just future.
I no longer view language with the fear that I did at age five. Instead, I have found that language opens doors. Languages that I do not know invite me to new realms of understanding as I search for meaning in the world and in the lives of my fellow human beings. In the last year, I have been drawn to the legal profession in the hopes of learning yet another language, one that, when combined with those I already speak, can be used to shape individuals, corporations, even nations. I believe that conflict can both begin and end in language, and that the law, when explored and worded correctly, can bring about justice in those situations of conflict. Above all, I trust that knowledge of the language of law will allow me to continue to recognize Truth in its many forms.

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Last edited by lisavj on Fri Nov 12, 2010 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

hawaii
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Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:15 pm

Re: PS - need to submit ASAP - anyone up for a quick read

Postby hawaii » Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:04 pm

Your friends are not hindi, they are hindu. Hindi is a language, a hindu is someone who follows hinduism, a religion.

pereira6
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Re: PS - need to submit ASAP - anyone up for a quick read

Postby pereira6 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:05 pm

I'm relatively inexperienced at judging good PS, but I have two, simple thoughts:

The third to last and second to last paragraphs feel like a regurgitated resume. I'm sure you have close to these same exact lines on your resume.

Focusing on your interest in language dating back to such a young age doesn't resonate well with me. Definitely mention that your whole life you have learned all sorts of languages, its fantastic...however, for example the first line of the last paragraph is like saying "dear law schools, im not as immature as i was when i was 6"...well, duh, right? I don't think at 6 years old you consciously made an effort to learn languages the rest of your life, so its not a strong basis.

Like i said, its 100% worth mentioning, just not as a focus. Great theme though!

Mark

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lisavj
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Re: PS - need to submit ASAP - anyone up for a quick read

Postby lisavj » Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:10 pm

@ Hawaii - huge thanks for catching that.

@pereira6 - thanks for your thoughts!

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Kchuck
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Re: PS - need to submit ASAP - anyone up for a quick read

Postby Kchuck » Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:15 pm

Similar to some of the other posters, I think your personal statement may be a little two much of a regurgitated resume. I don't claim to be a PS expert but I do think that in any writing it is important to have a very precise message. While I enjoyed your statement, I think it fails in that regard.

My suggestion would be to hone in on exactly what you want the admissions committee to know about you that they're not going to be able to find out in your resume. In my humble opinion, I don't think that you have to talk about all of you internships, graduate degrees, etc. in your personal statement. I think that your a good writer and certainly have the ability to make a killer PS, I think that you maybe just tried to capture too much in this edition of it. Best of luck to you!

CanadianWolf
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Re: PS - need to submit ASAP - anyone up for a quick read

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:20 pm

Great personal statement--except for the last line. If you keep the last line, consider decapitalizing "Truth" and adding "wisdom" as in "truth and wisdom".

P.S. If you are not accepted to both Hastings & Berkeley, I would be surprised.

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lisavj
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Re: PS - need to submit ASAP - anyone up for a quick read

Postby lisavj » Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:34 pm

@kchuck...Perhaps my biggest asset (IMHO) are my softs. What I want to show in my PS is what I learned from each experience...not sure how to do that without first referring to what the experience is/was... hm.

@canadian - love it. stealing it. thanks!

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Flips88
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Re: PS - need to submit ASAP - anyone up for a quick read

Postby Flips88 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:35 pm

I think it's a pretty great theme, but the restating your resume critique stands. I think you could trim some stuff. You don't need to overload the AdComm with evidence that you love languages. I think you have a pretty fascinating story overall. And as a student of Spanish, I too love how altering tense can convey emotions of disbelief, desire, etc. English is so boring.

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lisavj
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Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:42 pm

Re: PS - need to submit ASAP - anyone up for a quick read

Postby lisavj » Fri Nov 12, 2010 8:41 pm

Many thanks to all. After about four rewrites today I sent it off on its merry little way (I was strongly encouraged to apply before Nov. 15th).

Now my fingers are crossed, my breath is bated, and I'm going to go read some other people's PS's in thanks :)




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