Personal Statement Critique- public service bckground- HELP!

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cpete18
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Personal Statement Critique- public service bckground- HELP!

Postby cpete18 » Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:00 pm

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Last edited by cpete18 on Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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CGI Fridays
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Re: Personal Statement Critique- public service bckground- HELP!

Postby CGI Fridays » Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:45 pm

Highlighted text.
My commentary.
Suggested text.

My phone rang; a noise that I began to loathe (make some temporal reference to when you started loathing it, or otherwise just go with "a noise I'd come to loathe") , as it seldom delivered good news. Sitting on (I'm assuming you were sitting at it, not on it) my grey government desk, amid the cluster of Community Liaison cubicles affectionately called referred to by others in the Borough President’s office as the “bull pen”; (you don't call something as, you refer to it as, and no amount of filler in between changes that) more so for the amount of effort we threw into our work, (This is subjective, but I'd drop this comma so you have a smoother flow between "more so" and "than")and the long hours spent in the office, (drop this one too)than the way our desks were oriented; that phone was a lifeline to the constituents and agencies that I worked with daily.
(this doesn't really follow from "sitting at my desk." If you wanna be risky & keep the super long sentence, switch the last semi-colon to a comma, so the sentence without filler reads "sitting at my desk, that phone was a lifeline." But if the sentence is so long that you the writer have lost track of how it grammatically locks in, you definitely can't be sure any reader will follow easily the first read, so I suggest altering it so you can have one long sentence (sitting @ desk... bullpen... long hours... desks oriented) and then one short sentence where you bring it back to the phone.)

I vote new paragraph)It was Ms. Eadie, who had seen the administrations of more than a few Borough Presidents ("seen" is a lame-ass verb for what you're discussing. Find something more colorful. Doesn't have to be one word.), and had lived through the falling of the twin towers just two blocks away, yet always greeted you with a cheerfulness seldom seen in the Concrete Jungle (You're blurring the reasons you wouldn't expect Ms. Eadie to be so cheerful: your "yet" suggests that you wouldn't expect it from someone who lived through the falling of the twin towers two blocks away, but then you close by explicitly saying it's concrete jungle folk in general. If you intend this, fine, but it's possible that people may take issue with the insinuation that living through a nearby tragedy should lead us to expect that this person won't be cheerful for the rest of their life). Ms. Eadie had two walk-in constituents who were seeking the Borough President’s help with a situation they were facing with the Department of Homeless Services- an overworked, underfunded, and overscrutinized (who cares if it's overscrutinized or not, it's fun to read, no? Otherwise you feel like you're being led up to an anticlimactic splat.)) City agency tasked with aiding New York City’s growing homeless population. I grabbed my notepad, pen and business cards and hustled my way down the fluorescent-lit hallway, past the water fountain labeled “do not drink” to the lobby where I met the couple. They had just come from the Bellevue intake center, which had denied their request for temporary shelter;(colon here, not a semi-colon. Or you could just go with a period & new sentence. I vote you go "...denied their request for temporary shelter, claiming that...") the center claimed that the coupled had other housing options and thus were not in desperate need for the City’s assistance.

Clearly the City’s definition of “desperate” and my own were quite different. (No, this is actually not clear at all, considering you haven't discussed their situation or your definition of "desperate." Switch "clearly" out... maybe go with "Apparently." For the most effect, I suggest moving this sentence to AFTER the following explanation, as you're missing out by stranding it here with no context.)

The couple told their story, and I learned that (colon) the wife had been assaulted, and eventually stalked by a man for whom she worked as the superintendent of his building. She and her husband had no choice but to leave their home in search of both a new job and alternate housing. As too many of these stories go, the couple fell on hard times, moving from one relative’s crowded home to another, and with no other options left, to the intake center.

My job as a liaison brought me into a number of difficult situations; (If you ever write something to the effect of "what follows is a list," that's followed by a colon, not a semi-colon) parents frustrated that their children did not have adequate learning facilities, (then every item in the list is separated by a semi-colon, not a comma. Commas are fine for sentences within one item, but once you're switching to the next item, it's a semi-colon) tenant’s (this is just a pluralization of "tenant." No need for an apostrophe.) upset that their homes were illegally removed from rent stabilization, ; small business owners furious at the installation of bike lanes in front of their stores, (here you're totally shifting the flow after a pause after a lungful, but you don't want a new sentence. I'd bust out "...") but the one-on-one interactions with walk-in constituents, many in tears, were the most difficult to handle. It took all of a person’s one's strength to not to reach out and hold the hand of a crying woman who had been living in an asbestos-ridden apartment with her disabled son, but as the political staffer of Manhattan’s highest elected official, professionalism and restraint were two qualities that could not be compromised in the workplace.

I spent hours with this couple, discussing their limited options and offering what help I could give. With no formal training in social work or law, the assistance that I could provideto this couple was limited. I was a 23 year-old recent college graduate who had been an elected member of my University’s Student Government Association, and had worked on a presidential campaign, (Um, this has nothing to do with what you're writing about. Take it out, because it reads like "I did awesome stuff that was in no way relevant to the task at hand, but unfortunately that awesome stuff was in no way relevant to the task at hand. Put it on your resume. They'll read it there.) but now I was only armed with the title of the office and man that I worked for. (Even if you take out the chest thumping, these past three sentences are fluffy. I'm sure you can turn them into one.) The title was enough to navigate the maze of city government, and was even enough to be the leading force in having the NYC Department of Education open a new elementary school to aid the growing class sizes in Manhattan’s Upper West Side neighborhood, but it was not enough to help this singular family obtain one of the most basic necessities; shelter (Always assume that your reader is attentive. If you treat them like a child they'll resent you for it.) .

This couple, and so many others before them, had asked my advice on how to handle the housing court system, into which they would soon be thrust. They did not know of the appropriate documentation to amass, or how best to plead their case. I knew that I was in a position of significance- my word was true and authoritative in the their eyes of this couple. I was within the system of city government, and being within the system meant so I had the answers. But I didn’t. I had never attended law school and therefore was not given the privilege of providing legal advice. It would be have been more irresponsible to suggest a method of action, (drop comma) than it would be to scribble down the phone number of the Legal Aid Society, wish the couple good luck, and send them on their way into the abyss. I did the latter and went home that night feeling as though I should have done more Don't forget a period.
Dude... these last two paragraphs. You spend sentence after sentence conveying "I was in a position of power, yet I could not help" over and over again. Cut it down. A LOT.


This feeling has repeated itself (laaaame. find a better phrase.) for years, and although I have since left public service to pursue a better understanding of the intersection of the private and public sector (This reads like "I work in the private sector now, but feel guilty about it or am worried you think it's less noble, so I'll make up some obvious bullshit."... Assume your reader is intelligent, and that they'll be curious when they run into obvious bullshit.), I realize that the my determination and drive to assist those with legal difficulties, particularly difficulties arising from government-sponsored programs and entities, continues to be present. It would be naïve to think that a degree in law would help me change the systems of our government, but it would be more naïve to think that this degree would help me completely solve that couple’s problems. (That sentence is obvious and doesn't even add anything to your essay) Without pursuing this career I know that I will continue to face the endless limitations presented by government. However, I also believe that the art of law- of negotiation, of compromise, of creativity and logic- (Defining "the art of law" before attending law school, much less practicing for decades, seems a bit rash. I advise not doing it, but if you do, at least include knowledge of the law, as this constitutes the vast majority of what you'll learn in law school. Your definition would sooner apply to mediation or rhetoric training.) will allow me to take advantage of the countless possibilities.



Good luck!

CanadianWolf
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Re: Personal Statement Critique- public service bckground- HELP!

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:41 pm

Too long, too detailed without good reason & boring. If this personal statement actually gets a full reading by admissions officers, it may hurt your law school applications because it is neither concise nor well written.

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CGI Fridays
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Re: Personal Statement Critique- public service bckground- HELP!

Postby CGI Fridays » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:36 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:too detailed without good reason

+1

cpete18
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Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 3:55 pm

Re: Personal Statement Critique- public service bckground- HELP!

Postby cpete18 » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:30 pm

CGI- thanks for the help!




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