Feedback on (unconventional) personal statement..

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
mikstew
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:18 pm

Feedback on (unconventional) personal statement..

Postby mikstew » Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:22 pm

Hi all. I wrote this personal statement last year to get into UBC. My LSAT mark wasn't great, and I didn't get in.

My family told me that they hated my PS and it was the reason I didn't get in. I was ticked off when I heard that, because that wasn't the same song they were playing when they edited it before I applied. I didn't think it was perfect, but at least that it stood a chance. how do you guys feel about it:


Faculty of Law
University of British Columbia
1822 East Mall
Vancouver BC V6T 1Z1

The stakes were high – a pot of cash and the future of our start-up company were both on the line. I knew these facts all too well as I sat there attempting to listen to the competitors’ business proposals. It was nearly impossible to concentrate because I couldn’t stop thinking about how I would deliver my part of the presentation. Would it be too fast, too slow, or worse – maybe I would forget what I had stood up to say.

I was charged with demonstrating our project’s value proposition – in other words, a distillation of the proposal’s key features into their respective dollar values. Much to my surprise at the time, I delivered my part without a hitch, commanding the attention of the jury with each phrase I spoke. Precision was the key; showing how the business would unfold from start-up to achieving a million dollars in revenue is no easy task to be performed in under two minutes. In fact, we were short on time. With my eyes fixed on the clock, I decided not show the demonstrational video we had prepared for the presentation. Fortunately, in the question period afterwards, one of the judges asked “By any chance, would you happen to have a demonstration of your idea?” I replied, “Well now that you ask, I think we just might...”

When all the presentations were over, it seemed to me that we had a chance at taking home a portion of the cash prize. But after the judges deliberated and announced the runner-up and third place winners, I quickly retracted my initial assessment of the situation. The second place award was delivered. I sank into my seat, expecting to receive the dreaded consolation prize.

“And now”, the head judge announced, “for first prize in the first annual Business Model Competition, a unanimous decision goes to...” It was us. I couldn’t believe it. I was ecstatic. Nothing could have knocked the ear-to-ear grin off of my face. From that fateful night on, I knew without a doubt that my calling in life was to be the gentleman standing up in front of both my peers and superiors in order to persuade them as to why they should side with me instead of my opponents.

In the years that followed, my passion was refined. I was fortunate enough to land a job with a small environmental consulting firm at which I am still employed today. After helping to write a winning proposal for a contract with the federal government, my boss, myself and just one other individual were left with our first major project, a seemingly insurmountable collection of tasks consisting of summarizing the status of an entire industry in Canada, evaluating national and international water quality regulations, and recommending best available technologies for effluent treatment. In some 400 pages, and six months later, we delivered the draft report and final presentation to Environment Canada as well as to a dozen other industry representatives. Along the way I gained a great deal of experience in, and appreciation for, environmental and technological policy from both my manager and the diverse group of people I interacted with. A subject that had once eluded, and was thus avoided by, my engineering mind has become an area of great interest for my future studies.

At school, I took several law classes while pursuing my undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering. These courses taught me the basics of contracts, torts, and labour and property law, but the topic that piqued my interest was intellectual property law. Indeed, after one particularly stimulating lecture I asked one of the three practicing intellectual property lawyers assigned to teach the course the question as to how I could become an intellectual property litigator. The professor replied that I would need to have two crucial accreditations: a degree in law, and a Master’s or PhD in the subject area in which I desired to practice. As of August 2010, I will have obtained a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering; I aspire to satisfy the former requirement through my studies at the University of British Columbia. I believe that the marriage of my technical background with the skills and knowledge obtained at the University will allow me to prepare, negotiate and defend intellectual property rights alongside and against the best practitioners in Canada.



FWIW, I wrote this having never even heard of TLS.com, and yes I recognize I spoke the fatal faux-pas "From that moment on, I knew that..."

Oh and PS - Out of spite, I reapplied with the exact same PS this year and just got an early admission offer from UBC :) Take that, mom! Just kidding, love you!

Edit - for those who read this thinking that they wasted their time, worry not: I seek your criticism because I am now writing a personal statement for both Stanford and Berkeley, and I am wondering if a modified version of the above would be appreciated by their committees.

mikstew
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:18 pm

Re: Feedback on (unconventional) personal statement..

Postby mikstew » Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:25 am

Lots of reads but no replies.
Please, come now, don't be shy; after all, the application deadline is rather nigh.

If in exchange, you do need, something of a reciprocal read, please do send a pm to me!

mikstew
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:18 pm

Re: Feedback on (unconventional) personal statement..

Postby mikstew » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:37 am

Ok, noone is commenting on my PS...

So I just wrote a different one tonight.

Please give me some feedback!! Will swap ____ for feedback!


Global climate change threatens not only the permanence of this planet’s inhabitants but even the very nature and composition of the earth upon which they stand, the air with which they breathe and the waters in which they live. These threats to the most fundamental of our resources present some of the most significant and thought-provoking challenges earth and its inhabitants have ever faced. This past year, national temperatures in Canada exceeded averages by over 3 degrees centigrade, the highest discrepancy ever recorded. The question at hand is not whether we are responsible for the changes that we are observing, for even if an answer could be furnished with some degree of accuracy, our actions do not necessarily depend on the outcome of such a query. Instead, anyone can pose, and should be interested in, the question of what we can do to impede, eliminate and ultimately reverse the damaging processes that have begun. It is my belief that only through the informed intersection of and interaction between policy and technology that such an epic hurdle may be surmounted.

For although I have painted a bleak, tentative picture of our future prospects, all hope is not lost. Innovative, sustainable projects that would have been immediately and utterly rejected thirty years ago are springing up all over the world: concentrated solar power plants in Spain fuel the grid around the clock, mitigating the amount coal consumed by conventional power plants by 26,461 tons per day; photovoltaic cells, at one time which cost their weight in gold, now power millions of homes across the States; and, even in industries using the dirtiest of fuels, leaps and bounds in reducing all types of emissions are being made by use of ever-advancing clean technologies. Most, if not all of these feats were driven by significant changes in environmental policy.

As an engineer, I have had very humble beginnings in the world of law. My first performance was less than stellar: all students in their undergraduate Chemical Engineering degree were to take Engineering Law and although I enjoyed the class, I found the coursework to be disparate from what I familiar with and particularly difficult. It was not until a class in intellectual property law that I was able to identify with highly trained individuals that specialized both in the natural sciences and the law, whom I began to admire very much and give much credit for my position today. Later, my experience with law would revert to its original state, which was exceptionally disappointing at best.

The LSAT. The make-you-or-break-you exam. Being an engineer, that is, being fond of examinations, I took the test cold turkey, thinking my great logic skills would carry me though. Suffice it to say that my September test score never saw the light of day, and I left the test center with a great deal of respect for both arts majors and formal logic. After studying for a month, I retook the exam in December, received a lousy score, and tossed my top American school applications in the trash, only to be rejected from the one Canadian law school I applied to. Great!
Paradoxically, it was in my failure to take the LSAT seriously that success found me. At the time I was making my applications, I had a standing offer from my school to do a graduate research degree, also in engineering, a task which at the time seemed little better than rotting away on the couch waiting for the next application cycle. I could not have been more wrong. My graduate degree opened me up to a whole new world, a world that was utterly foreign to me at first, but after authoring three journal publications in some of the best chemical engineering journals and presenting at conferences in England and Finland, this fringe world became home to me. But I never lost sight of my goals.

Today, I recall an unnerving conversation I had with my thesis supervisor, XXX, some six months ago. More affectionately known as YYY, he informed me that at a meeting it was revealed to him that CO2 capture projects, projects which I was involved in and that he had been involved in for over fifteen years, were no longer on the agenda, with no apparent reason given. A world leader in his field, YYY was in a large part responsible for the success of my graduate studies, so I did not take his comments lightly. I was just as perplexed with the decision as he was. Sadly, this is far too common a situation in that technological and environmental policy makers do not solicit the opinions of experts thoroughly enough to make informed decisions. This reason, among many others, rekindled my quest to pursue the law and fueled my desire to be in a position where I can help express the voices of scientists and engineers in a lawyerly way, yet still be able to stay true to principles and concepts I spent so long developing in engineering.

But my graduate degree taught me yet another lesson. Working with a technology that existed only in two labs at the time, at the pilot plant-sized scale, taught me skills necessary for such work: perseverance and dedication. It was for these skills that I prepared for a length of time I do not wish to disclose in order to earn my current and best LSAT mark. Armed with this mark, degrees in engineering, and experience with the technologies of the field in which I wish to practice law, I hope to gain entry into one of the best environmental law programs. And with such a degree, I hope to graduate as a unique, exceptionally marketable asset, ready to take on some of the most difficult modern challenges we have ever faced.

As the only conscious, cognizant inhabitants of this earth capable of driving technological innovation through commanding public policy, and since our habitat has so altruistically sustained our population for millennia, I believe we are obligated to seek out and sustainably implement the solutions which these challenges so imminently demand. The training I receive at law school over the next three years will be my fuel as I seek to be one just one entity that helps catalyzes the bountiful reaction between the fields of engineering and law.

mikstew
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:18 pm

Re: Feedback on (unconventional) personal statement..

Postby mikstew » Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:15 pm

Since I wrote the above in a few hours last night, I have revised it. It was far too negative about a few things. People like happy stories.

Also, Still no replies. I have done my best to make comments on other threads where there have been no replies, since I know how it feels to wait for one, so perhaps the principles of "pay it forward" may come into play for me?

Thanks guys


Global climate change threatens not only the permanence of this planet’s inhabitants, but even the very nature and composition of the earth upon which we stand, the air we breathe and the waters in which we live. Threats to the most fundamental of our resources present some of the most significant and thought-provoking challenges the earth and its inhabitants have ever faced. This past year, national temperatures in Canada exceeded averages by over 3 degrees centigrade, the highest discrepancy ever recorded. At issue is not whether human activities are responsible for the changes that we are observing, for even if an answer could be determined with some degree of accuracy, our actions do not necessarily depend on the outcome of such a query. Instead, anyone can pose and should be interested in the answer to the question of what we can do to impede, eliminate and ultimately reverse the damaging processes that have begun. It is my belief that only through the informed interaction between policy and technology that such an epic hurdle may be surmounted. Although I do not profess to be a climate change expert, it would be fair to say that I am a specialist in my field, and armed with a degree in environmental law, I hope to transcend the current boundaries that currently inhibit collaboration between the two disciplines.

Despite my bleak, tentative picture of our future prospects, I do not believe that all hope is lost. Innovative, sustainable projects that would have been immediately rejected thirty years ago are springing up all over the world: concentrated solar power plants in Spain fuel the grid around the clock, reducing the amount coal consumed by conventional power plants by 26,461 tons per day; photovoltaic cells, which at one time cost their weight in gold, now power millions of homes across the United States; and, even in industries using the dirtiest of fuels, significant reductions in all types of emissions are being made by use of ever-advancing clean technologies. Most, if not all of these feats were driven by significant changes in environmental policy.

Like all chemical engineers, my training has taught me how to use diverse processes, tools and specialized materials such as catalysts to maximize the yield of a chemical reaction. And, like most chemical engineers, my program left little time for extracurricular studies in other disciplines, studies which are necessary for the effective interpretation and use of the law. Thus, my first experience with the law was to be one of humility. In my program, all students were required to take Engineering Law in our fourth year. Thinking the class would be a breeze, I tacked it onto my already-heavy sophomore course load. Although I enjoyed the class, I found the coursework to be exceptionally time-consuming and particularly difficult, and as a result, I did not put forth a great performance and I avoided such classes thereafter. It was not until my return to the subject years later in a class on intellectual property law that I was able to identify with highly trained individuals who specialized both in the natural sciences and the law, and that I began to excel outside my equation-cushioned comfort zone. Unfortunately, my feelings about law would later revert to their original states, leaving me humbled once again.

The LSAT – the make-you-or-break-you exam. Being an engineer, that is, being fond of examinations, I took the test without preparation, making the flawed assumption that what has been the case in the past should continue to be the case in the future. Suffice it to say that my September test score never saw the light of day, and I left the test center with a great deal of respect for both arts majors and formal logic. I studied and retook the exam in December, received a score, but canceled American school applications on the basis of that score, only to be rejected from the one Canadian law school I applied to. At that point, I began to seriously question the logic of pursuing what I had previously been so determined to do.

Paradoxically, it was in my failure to take the LSAT seriously that success found me. At the time I was making my applications, I had a standing offer from my school to do a graduate research degree, also in engineering, a task which at the time I thought to be incompatible with my pursuit of law. Despite my reservations, I chose to take the offer and I have been satisfied with my decision ever since. My graduate degree opened me up to a whole new world, a world that was foreign to me, but after authoring three journal publications in highly-ranked chemical engineering journals and presenting at conferences in England and Finland, what seemed to be a fringe world at first became my new home. But I never lost sight of my goals.

Today, I recall a conversation I had with my thesis supervisor, XXX, some six months ago. More affectionately known as YYY, he informed me that he had recently learned that CO2 capture projects, projects which I was involved in and that he had been involved in for over fifteen years, were no longer “on the agenda”, and no reason for their dismissal was given. A world leader in his field, YYY was in a large part responsible for the success of my graduate studies, so I did not take this information lightly. I was as perplexed with the decision as he was. Unfortunately, it is too common a situation that technological and environmental policy makers do not solicit the opinions of experts in order to make informed decisions. These events rekindled my interest in pursuing the law and fueled my desire to be in a position where I can help express the voices of scientists and engineers in a lawyerly way, yet still be able to stay true to principles and concepts I tenaciously developed in engineering.

My graduate degree taught me another lesson. Working with a technology that existed in only two labs at the time at the pilot plant-sized scale, taught me skills necessary for such work: perseverance and dedication. It was for these skills that I prepared for a length of time I do not wish to disclose in order to earn my current and best LSAT mark. Armed with this mark, degrees in engineering, and experience with the technologies of the field in which I wish to practice law, I hope to gain entry into one of the best environmental law programs. And with such a degree, I hope to graduate as a unique, marketable asset, ready to take on some of the most difficult modern challenges we have ever faced.

As the only conscious, cognizant inhabitants of the earth capable of driving technological innovation through commanding public policy, and since our habitat has so altruistically sustained our population for millennia, I believe we are obligated to seek out and sustainably implement the solutions which modern environmental challenges so imminently demand. The training I receive at law school over the next three years will be my fuel as I seek to catalyze a bountiful reaction between the fields of engineering and law.

mikstew
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:18 pm

Re: Feedback on (unconventional) personal statement..

Postby mikstew » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:13 pm

bump to the top... feedback anyone?

mikstew
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:18 pm

Re: Feedback on (unconventional) personal statement..

Postby mikstew » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:33 am

You know what this situation reminds me of?

How most people shy away from the natural sciences passages on the LSAT.

Call me biased, but I always do those passages first because more often than not, they are easy passages hidden behind the guise of fancy words.

I hope that doesn't mean my PS is just hiding behind fancy words.... Uh oh!

Anywho, here is another edit - probably my near final edit (no thanks to you guys, buncha jerks)






Global climate change threatens not only the permanence of the planet’s inhabitants, but even the very nature and composition of the earth upon which we stand, the air we breathe and the waters in which we live. Threats to the most fundamental of our resources present some of the most significant and thought-provoking challenges we have ever faced. This past year, national temperatures in Canada exceeded averages by over 3 degrees centigrade, the highest discrepancy ever recorded. At issue is not whether human activities are responsible for the changes that we are observing, for even if an answer could be determined, our actions do not necessarily depend on the outcome of such a query. Instead, anyone can pose the question of what we can do to impede, eliminate and ultimately reverse the damaging processes that have begun. It is my belief that only through the informed interaction between policy and technology can such epic hurdles be surmounted. Although I do not profess to be a climate change expert, it would be fair to say that I am a specialist in my field, and armed with a degree in environmental law, I hope to transcend the boundaries that inhibit collaboration between the two disciplines.

Despite the bleak painting of our future prospects, I do not believe that all hope is lost. Innovative, sustainable projects that would have been immediately rejected thirty years ago are springing up all over the world: concentrated solar power plants in Spain fuel the grid around the clock, reducing the amount of coal consumed by conventional power plants by 26,461 tons per day; photovoltaic cells, which at one time cost their weight in gold, now power millions of homes across the United States; and, even in industries using the dirtiest of fuels, significant reductions in all types of emissions are being made by use of ever-advancing clean technologies. Most, if not all of these feats were driven by significant changes in environmental policy.

Like all chemical engineers, my training taught me how to use diverse processes, apply analytical reasoning and utilize specialized materials such as catalysts to solve problems, such as maximizing the yield of a chemical reaction. And, like most chemical engineers, my program left little time for studies in other disciplines, studies which are necessary for the effective interpretation and use of the law. Thus, my first experience with the law was to be one of humility. In my program, all students were required to take a fourth year Engineering Law class. Compared to courses in fluid mechanics and differential equations, I welcomed the class at first as a change of pace in my sophomore year. Although I found it enjoyable, the coursework was exceptionally difficult for me, and as a result, I did not put forth a great performance and I avoided such classes thereafter. It was not until my return to the subject years later in an intellectual property law class that I was able to identify with highly-trained individuals who specialized both in the natural sciences and the law, and that I began to excel outside my equation-cushioned comfort zone. Unfortunately, when the time came to make my applications for law school, one particular barrier of entry for many engineers left me humbled once again.

The LSAT – the make-you-or-break-you exam. Being an engineer, that is, being fond of examinations, I took the test without preparation, making the flawed assumption that what has been the case in the past would continue to be the case in the future. Suffice it to say that my September test score never saw the light of day, and I left the test center with a great deal of respect for both arts majors and formal logic. I studied and retook the exam in December but canceled my American applications on the basis of my score, only to be rejected from the one Canadian law school I applied to. At that point, I began to reasonably question the logic of pursuing what I had previously been so determined to do.

Paradoxically, it was in my failure to take the LSAT seriously that success found me. At the time I was making my applications, I had a standing offer from my school to do a graduate research degree, a task which at the time I thought to be incompatible with my pursuit of law. Despite my reservations, I chose to take the offer and I have been satisfied with my decision ever since. My graduate degree opened me up to a foreign world, but after authoring three journal publications in highly-ranked chemical engineering journals and presenting at international conferences on renewable energy in England and Finland, what seemed to be foreign at first became my new home. But I never lost sight of my goals.

Today, I recall a conversation I had with my thesis supervisor, XXX, some six months ago. More affectionately known as YYY, he informed me that he had recently learned that CO2 capture projects, projects which I was involved in and that he had been involved in for over fifteen years, were no longer “on the agenda”. A world leader in his field, YYY was in a large part responsible for the success of my graduate studies, so I did not take this perplexing information lightly. Unfortunately, it is too common a situation that technological and environmental policy-makers do not solicit the opinions of experts in order to make informed decisions. Situations like these fuel my desire to be in a position where I can help express the voices of scientists and engineers in a lawyerly way, yet still be able to stay true to principles and concepts I tenaciously developed in engineering.

My graduate degree taught me another lesson. Working with a technology that exists in only two labs worldwide necessitated that I lean desirable skills through experimentation: perseverance and dedication. After countless failed tests on equipment with no manuals to refer back to, I eventually learned that the only way I was ever going to finish my graduate degree was to persevere and try again. I know that I deserve both of the LSAT scores I received, but I also I know that it was with these skills that I was able to judiciously and completely prepare for the test in order to earn a score an engineer could be proud of.

Armed with this mark, my strong track record in the field of research, and experience with the technologies and policies of the field in which I wish to practice law, I hope to gain entry into one of the North America’s top environmental law programs. In such a program, I will be able to share views not likely to be held by an average law school applicant. Moreover, I believe that it is only in such a program that I will graduate as a unique, marketable asset, equipped with the complete set of skills necessary to take on some of the most difficult modern challenges earth’s inhabitants have ever faced.

To take on these challenges would be a pleasure for me, but it would also be to fulfill a duty. As the only conscious, cognizant inhabitants of earth capable of driving technological innovation through commanding public policy, and since our environment has so altruistically sustained our population for millennia, the human species is obligated to seek out and sustainably implement the solutions which modern environmental challenges demand. While my analytical skills and meticulous nature have allowed me to excel as a scientific researcher, the training I receive at law school over the next three years will be my sustainable fuel source as I seek to catalyze a bountiful reaction between the fields of engineering and law.

User avatar
FlanAl
Posts: 1474
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:53 pm

Re: Feedback on (unconventional) personal statement..

Postby FlanAl » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:48 am

Not sure about canadian law schools so sorry I can't be more helpful but for American law schools this needs to be WAY shorter. I'm pretty sure the main reason no one is reading it all the way through is because it is more than twice as long as it should be for most schools. Unless you are doing a special 4 page PS.

Sorry I didn't read through it for content I just word counted it. Usual PS is around 600 or so words

User avatar
dzollman
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 3:46 am

Re: Feedback on (unconventional) personal statement..

Postby dzollman » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:56 am

You replied to mine quickly, so I will reply to yours. Definitely an interesting statement. At first I was worried that it may be too much of a science lesson but I think that you did a good job of tying your previous work experience and knowledge in with your reasons for wanting to attend law school.

Most people do not seem to recommend focusing too much on your LSAT score, especially if it was a poor score to begin with. I realize that this is not your focus, but I think that I would eliminate most of your discussion on the LSAT and replace it with a segment that focuses more on yourself. Everyone that has taken the LSAT knows that it contains a specific type and method of logic and that, without proper preparation, many people have a hard time with the test. Adcomms will be able to see a good test score on your application, there is no reason to repeat this in your personal statement. Instead, use this space to write more about yourself.

Also, the section where you reference a particular class that was time consuming and difficult (maybe 3rd or 4th paragraph) and state that you avoided such classes in the future is concerning to me. This does not seem to fit in with the rest of your PS. You seem well informed, motivated, and well educated. I know that you are saying that this did not interest you at this point, but I would be wary of including this in your PS.

You have revised the current statement while I have been writing my response to the first one. I have not yet read your revision, but I will attempt to give you some useful feedback tomorrow. The statement I commented on could definitely work with a little editing. As you said, people prefer "happy stories." My advice is to try not to portray negative feelings toward education, lsat, or your own personality in a personal statement. I also must apologize because it is getting pretty late here and I am dead tired after a long day of snowboarding. I worry that this response is not the best, but I will try and read your revised statement tomorrow when I am more focused. I would have postponed this until tomorrow, but I think that you deserve some sort of response after all of your time and effort. I know that I check my posts habitually afterwords and I appreciated your quick response.

mikstew
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:18 pm

Re: Feedback on (unconventional) personal statement..

Postby mikstew » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:40 pm

Ah excellent.. thanks for your comments. Looks like I am not almost near my final draft!

If it makes any different for future commentators, I am only applying to Stanford and Berkeley. I only applied to one Canadian school (I have already been given an offer) as my backup plan, but my heart lies with these two schools.


I have some comments/questions for your comments:

I dedicated a portion of the letter on the LSAT for a few reasons. The first is that I took it 3 times, and my only good mark was on the 3rd try, and from what I understand, it is worthwhile explaining such lapses in the PS. I also used the situation to show how my skills learned elsewhere (dedication) were applied. Moreover, the LSAT was probably the largest stumbling block for me to get into law school, and although my experience in engineering granted me many useful qualities that set me apart from many other applicants, it also left me at a bit if a disadvantage, as I am sure it has for many other scientists. My brain has been trained to apply a very specific kind of logic to solving problems, which is vastly different from the skills needed to analyze textual arguments. I can certainly remove this from my PS, but I thought it was an asset not a dead weight.

Regarding the other point about my negativity towards a particular class.. Indeed, time to remove that. Thanks for giving a different viewpoint.

Lastly, both of you seem to think I should write more about myself. Scientific writing has always taught us to keep the "I" out of the equation so I find this form of writing challenging.

Should I write about my research and its impacts on reducing the air pollutants sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides?

Should I write about another experience I had at an environmental consulting firm, where we provided a report on the liquid effluents from petroleum refineries in order to guide Canada's amendments to its largest piece of environmental legislation?

Or perhaps something completely different.

Thanks very much for your comments. Now, back to work for me.

mikstew
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:18 pm

Re: Feedback on (unconventional) personal statement..

Postby mikstew » Sat Jan 15, 2011 7:10 pm

I've implemented the changes you guys suggested. Thanks!


Global climate change threatens not only the permanence of the planet’s inhabitants, but even the very nature and composition of the earth upon which we stand. Threats to our fundamental resources present some of the most significant and thought-provoking challenges we have ever faced. This past year, national temperatures in Canada exceeded averages by over 3 degrees centigrade, the highest discrepancy ever recorded. At issue is not whether human activities are responsible for the changes that we are observing, for even if an answer could be determined, our actions do not necessarily depend on the outcome of such a query. Instead, anyone can pose the question of what we can do to impede, eliminate and ultimately reverse the damaging processes that have begun. It is my belief that only through the informed interaction between policy and technology can these hurdles be surmounted. While I do not profess to be a climate change expert, I am a specialist in my field, and with a degree in environmental law, I hope to transcend the boundaries that inhibit collaboration between the two disciplines.

Despite the bleak picture of our future prospects, I do not believe it is without hope. Innovative, sustainable projects that would have been rejected thirty years ago are springing up all over the world: concentrated solar power plants in Spain fuel the grid around the clock, reducing the amount of coal consumed by conventional power plants by 26,461 tons per day; photovoltaic cells, which at one time cost their weight in gold, now power millions of homes across the United States; and, even in industries using the dirtiest of fuels, significant reductions in all types of emissions are being made by use of ever-advancing clean technologies. Most, if not all, of these feats were driven by significant changes in environmental policy.

As is true for all chemical engineers, my training taught me how to use diverse processes, apply analytical reasoning and how to utilize advanced materials like catalysts to solve problems, such as maximizing the yield of a chemical reaction. Due to the intense, specialized nature of my studies, and the requirements of my jobs in engineering and at the Canada Revenue Agency throughout my undergraduate years, I had little time left to hone some of the skills necessary to perform well on the LSAT. However, as an engineer (that is, being fond of examinations), I took the test without preparation, making the flawed assumption that what had been the case in the past would continue to be the case in the future. Suffice it to say that my September test score never saw the light of day, and I left the test center on testing day with a great deal of respect for both the natural abilities of arts majors and for formal logic. At that point, I began to reasonably question the logic of pursuing what I had previously been so determined to do.

Paradoxically, it was in my failure to overtake this barrier of entry that I found success. At the time I was making my applications, I had an offer from my university to undertake a graduate research degree, a task which at the time I thought would divert me from my pursuit of law. Fortunately, I accepted the position which turned out to be an exceptionally rewarding experience. There I learned the dedication and perseverance critical to the scientific method, skills that would later help me achieve an LSAT score an engineer could be proud of. My graduate degree opened me up to a new world, and after authoring three journal publications in highly-ranked chemical engineering journals and presenting at international conferences on renewable energy in England and Finland, what seemed to be foreign at first became my new home. Still, I never lost sight of my goals.

Today, I recall a conversation I had with my thesis supervisor, XXX, some six months ago. More affectionately known as YYY, he informed me that he had recently learned that CO2 capture projects, projects which I was involved in and that he had been involved in for over fifteen years, were no longer “on the agenda”. A world leader in his field, YYY was in a large part responsible for the success of my graduate studies, so I did not take this perplexing information lightly. Unfortunately, it is too common a situation that technological and environmental policy-makers do not solicit the opinions of experts in order to make informed decisions. I found that such was also the case in work I performed for a small environmental consulting firm on the liquid effluents from petroleum refineries. In interviewing environmental teams at refineries in Canada and the U.S., it became clear that most facilities performed about ten times better than the Canadian regulatory limits over the last 10 years. Had the regulations better reflected the best available technologies, thousands of tons of discharged pollutants could have been avoided. My background allowed me to understand the scientific principles on which water treatment technologies rely in order to effectively communicate to government officials the current state of the industry and how it should impact Canada’s environmental legislation. With this work, we provided recommendations for amendments to the Fisheries and Oceans Act that I hope will be implemented in the future.

With my strong track record in the field of research, and experience with the technologies and policies of the field in which I wish to practice law, I hope to gain entry into one of the North America’s top environmental law programs. In such a program, I will be able to share views not likely to be held by an average law school applicant. Moreover, I believe that it is only in such a program that I will graduate as a unique, marketable asset, equipped with the complete set of skills necessary to take on some of the most difficult modern challenges earth’s inhabitants have ever faced.

To take on these challenges would be a pleasure for me, but it would also be to fulfill a duty. As the only conscious, cognizant inhabitants of earth capable of driving technological innovation through commanding public policy, and since our environment has so altruistically sustained our population for millennia, the human species is obligated to seek out and sustainably implement the solutions which modern environmental challenges demand. While my analytical skills and meticulous nature have allowed me to excel as a scientific researcher, the training I receive at law school over the next three years will be my sustainable fuel source as I seek to catalyze a bountiful reaction between the fields of engineering and law.




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