Need help cutting it in half

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )

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Need help cutting it in half

Postby verbalizing » Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:30 pm


I had one complete personal statement about something that I wasn't very passionate about, but another event has sparked my interest. Now I went on a writing rampage, and need to cut it in half. Any help would be greatly appreciated :)

Two years ago while working at the Roxbury District Courthouse, I walked into work and was greeted by various news crew vans parked outside, and a larger police presence than usual. Roxbury District Courthouse is the second busiest municipal courthouse in Massachusetts. The reason for the media flurry wasn’t due to a celebrity being arraigned for drug possession or a DUI, but for something on a different scale. It was for the arraignment of the shooting death of a 14 year old boy at a bus stop. At that time, I worked as a probation intern at the courthouse for a number of months, and have witnessed everything from attempted escapes from the sixth session, a prior murder trial as well as a domestic dispute that involved a frying pan and hot grits. The atmosphere during the arraignment was full of emotion where the defendant, a leader of a Boston gang, pleaded not guilty behind a partition for fear of backlash in the courtroom.

I currently work at District Attorney Dan Conley’s office, in the Gang Unit, where I had the opportunity to see at close range this particular defendant’s trial go up to Suffolk Superior Court. My experience working in the criminal justice system has reinforced my decision to pursue criminal law. I want to become a prosecutor not only in the pursuit of conviction but to keep leaders who influence others to do harm, especially the youth, off the streets. I have worked with youth in various capacities from mentoring, tutoring, supervising campers, as well as conducting research on a directed study.

One night, about 6 years ago my father, an active union member, was at work in the parking lot of a building in San Francisco, when he was attacked from behind. My father’s attacker was after the money that my father was going to deposit after his shift. I was traumatized seeing my father, in his hospital bed, with thirteen stitches in his head. Soon after, his perpetrator was arrested and we learned that he had gone on a robbery spree of downtown, and this string of crimes was his third strike, under California’s Three Strikes Law.

These two seemingly random events accurately illustrate my dual interest in the study of both the criminal and social justice system. Crime has the ability to rob someone of their future, like the teenager that was murdered; and has a wide spread effect. A teenager’s future was lost and my family was put into jeopardy. These experiences were a harbinger of change to me, they provoked me to pursue a career as a lawyer, to ensure the future well being of others. I live in a household where both of my parents belong to unions and have always heard the discussion on how their unions must struggle to protect their rights. Despite my inclination for the pursuit of criminal justice, I will not lose track of the need for social justice, seeing as it has shaped the environment I grew up in.

The leadership displayed in gangs and unions have prompted me to reflect on what it means to be a leader. As the child of immigrant parents, independence was instilled in me and I naturally gravitated towards leadership positions. My role was never the translator, but more of a facilitator for my parents. My parents spoke English but lacked a firm grasp on it; and often facilitated my own parent-teacher conferences. I’ve been in leadership positions since high school and have continued on that path in college. At Northeastern University, where I am the Vice President of Programming for the Resident Student Association (RSA). My role in the organization is to plan and execute large-scale programs for students, like our annual 24 hour scavenger hunt with 600 participants.
One of my school’s signature events is a week long program entitled “Sex Week”. Despite, its provocative name, the nature of the program is focused upon sexual awareness and not sex itself. We have events with relationship experts, comedians and even UN health consultants; in addition to publishing a magazine. This year, my school’s administration tried to change the name of “Sex Week” to “Safe Sex Week”. The members of my committee as well as my executive board were appalled that after six years of having the program, they wanted to institute not only a name change, but a change in the overall message of the week. I met with the Vice President of Student Activities, who happens to be a lawyer, and explained to him that as an organization we were not going to allow them to push their agenda on us, and that our budget is independent of theirs. Marketing “Sex Week” as “Safe Sex Week” changes the ideals of the event where safe sex is its only purpose, unlike the real purpose of the week which is to educate students not only on sexual health, but sexual identity, sexuality and relationships. The mission statement of our organization is to serve as an advocacy and programming body for students on campus.

The conflict between the school officials and my event proved to be a situation where programming and advocacy worked in unison. We represented the students’ wishes who wanted to keep “Sex Week” and its events as is, and did not believe in putting on a program whose viewpoints we disagreed with. My belief stems from the fact that as a student leader in one of the school’s most prominent organizations, that it is our responsibility to be the voice for the students and to relay their opinions to the school’s administrators. The end result was compromising on the actual events of the week and adding an educational component that fit their agenda, but the name stayed. The unaltered name of the week and the message that it broadcasted was more imperative than having certain events.

All I know is it seems a little disjointed, but there were a lot of elements I wanted to tie in. Also I realize it's risky writing the word SEX so many times in a personal statement, okay a lot risky, but I think it shows that I am passionate about something and a leader at my school. My old personal statement was about my experiences working with youth and it seemed very blah.

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Re: Need help cutting it in half

Postby writetrack » Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:21 pm

Hi Verbalizing,

I think there is a lot of pertinent information here, however, I agree it is largely disjointed and lacks flow. I would look at how you can keep a steady theme throughout and develop it until it culminates in why law. Remember always start and end strong and keep the element of continuity throughout. Feel free to email me if you have more specific questions.

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Re: Need help cutting it in half

Postby icecold3000 » Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:08 pm

At Northeastern University, where I am the Vice President of Programming for the Resident Student Association (RSA). THIS IS NOT A SENTENCE

Did you really "not believe in putting on a program whose viewpoints we disagreed with"
or did you not believe this program's agenda matched the spirit of Sex Week

If you are really in need of cutting this in half, I would scrap atleast 1 of the 3 mini stories included in here. The Sex thing is definitely a gamble. What if the adcomm disagrees with you and thinks it is inappropriate. Seeing how you want to cut this in half maybe you should get rid of that whole part. Also a little more paragraph transition is needed.

Good start keep editing.

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