My (intense) Personal Statement *UPDATED WITH 2ND DRAFT!*

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

Am I on the right track?

Yes.
7
58%
Kind of.
4
33%
No.
1
8%
HAELL NO!
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 12

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3v3ryth1ng
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My (intense) Personal Statement *UPDATED WITH 2ND DRAFT!*

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:42 am

See the below for my updated 2nd draft!
Thanks! :D


Look!
II
II
II
V
Last edited by 3v3ryth1ng on Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:41 am, edited 2 times in total.

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seahawk32
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby seahawk32 » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:17 pm

As far as content, grammar, lexicon, etc...

"The power of those crucial moments in which one forever alters the trajectory and worldview of another human being is woefully understated in cinema."

lolwut?


"Ultimately, it means nothing to help the causes of equality or social justice. It means everything to help Moises Lopez, Robert Nelson, Kelvin Barrera, Kamry Barrow, Aubrey Ross, Gabriela Barajas, and LaQuesha McAdoo"

Why list the names? I know you're listing them to indicate that they're not just numbers and you think by listing the names that it adds a personal touch, but names are as arbitrary as numbers in this case. Or at least IMO.

Your essay comes across as somewhat disingenuous. You do a lot of talking about your students. And you do a lot of talking about what you've done for your students. Your presence runs throughout the background of the essay. When the focus is turned to you, all I really hear is that you're an altruistic saint whose only concern is your students. Sir, I call bullshit. I know the idea sounds good -- the altruistic, public interest lawyer -- but I really didn't learn anything about you other than that you teach and seem to care about the kids.

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3v3ryth1ng
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:18 pm

seahawk32 wrote:As far as content, grammar, lexicon, etc...

"The power of those crucial moments in which one forever alters the trajectory and worldview of another human being is woefully understated in cinema."

lolwut?


I appreciate the input. This statement is actually grammatically correct. It's supposed to sound slightly humorous. Is it too cumbersome? Is it cocky/pretentious sounding?

seahawk32 wrote: As far as content, grammar, lexicon, etc..."Ultimately, it means nothing to help the causes of equality or social justice. It means everything to help Moises Lopez, Robert Nelson, Kelvin Barrera, Kamry Barrow, Aubrey Ross, Gabriela Barajas, and LaQuesha McAdoo"

Why list the names? I know you're listing them to indicate that they're not just numbers and you think by listing the names that it adds a personal touch, but names are as arbitrary as numbers in this case. Or at least IMO.


I added the names for the reasons you mentioned. I actually meant what I said too, as "people, not numbers" is a principle underlying everything I do, and I think it demonstrates who I am as a person. Do you think it puts people off? Would it possibly be cliche' among teachers' personal statements? Would you propose just referring to them as "students?" Do you just dislike the concept of this essay in general?

seahawk32 wrote:Your essay comes across as somewhat disingenuous. You do a lot of talking about your students. And you do a lot of talking about what you've done for your students. Your presence runs throughout the background of the essay. When the focus is turned to you, all I really hear is that you're an altruistic saint whose only concern is your students. Sir, I call bullshit. I know the idea sounds good -- the altruistic, public interest lawyer -- but I really didn't learn anything about you other than that you teach and seem to care about the kids.


I do alot of talking about the students because those are the people I always think about, and I'm trying to demonstrate that. I did refer to some of my responsibilities toward the end, but I tried to weave them into the essay without sounding "resume-ish." If it sounds disingenuous, that's a problem, because I'm trying to communicate the exact opposite of that. This is not a job for fakers, and the talkers usually quit in a year or less once they realize how masochistic it is. Every word I said is true- these are real people, and their significance to me IS genuine. I'm also well aware of how jaded/cynical people can be when people talk about "the kids" or "social justice." I was honestly sort of banking on the fact that my resume and work history completely support the things I'm saying.

And I'm in no way rejecting your criticism, because I believe you mean it. My teaching experience is the most substantive experience I have. I DO want to play up my desire to work in PI, and I DO want to communicate that I'm the real deal PI candidate, because I know I am exactly what they're looking for. How do I show that, though, through the lens of a teacher who wants to become a lawyer, without arousing bitter cynicism in the reader? Suggestions?

I also want to stand out. I don't want to say things that other people say. Do you think anything I said up there stands out, or has any shock value? (keep in mind, this job has plenty of real shock value). Again, any suggestion for the "getting noticed" aspect?

yankeedoodle
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby yankeedoodle » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:52 pm

I don't think it comes across as disingenuous, but then again, I am a Social Work major and also aspire to PI law, ha. However, I do come away from this thinking about those kids, and not you. It reads more like a fundraising pamphlet for the school, rather than a PS, ya know? It also gets a bit awkward when you start listing your duties- maybe do the talking about kids as people thing, and then use one of these awesome accomplishments as an illustration of how you engage them? Does that make sense? I think this would keep the heartbeat of the statement intact, while selling you in a much less obvious way.

GREAT material!

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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby c3pO4 » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:59 pm

i mean, you will most likely gun for biglaw. but as far as bs goes, that's a pretty good statement

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3v3ryth1ng
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:00 am

yankeedoodle wrote:I don't think it comes across as disingenuous, but then again, I am a Social Work major and also aspire to PI law, ha. However, I do come away from this thinking about those kids, and not you. It reads more like a fundraising pamphlet for the school, rather than a PS, ya know? It also gets a bit awkward when you start listing your duties- maybe do the talking about kids as people thing, and then use one of these awesome accomplishments as an illustration of how you engage them? Does that make sense? I think this would keep the heartbeat of the statement intact, while selling you in a much less obvious way.

GREAT material!


Thanks! Criticism duly noted.
At the moment, the kids are the focus of the essay. I did this because I was trying to "show" my compassion and dedication, and to give a glimpse into my motivations. I also had the "people =/= numbers" thing going because I'm trying to subtly suggest that I'm more than my numbers would suggest (well, the numbers I know of anyway).

Would I do better to focus on a single narrative, or several aspects of the job? Should I explicitly address my desire to go to law school more?
Are there any paragraphs or phrases that are particularly good; like "must keep" sorta stuff?

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3v3ryth1ng
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:02 am

c3pO4 wrote:i mean, you will most likely gun for biglaw. but as far as bs goes, that's a pretty good statement


LOL cool comment, dude!

kublaikahn
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby kublaikahn » Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:47 am

This could be good, but you leave the value in it laying there. reflect deeper. How did you feel when moises opened up to you? Were you prepared? Did it motivate you? Did your perspective change. Build that in after that line, then shift to your ability to empathize based on similar circumstances (if that is the way you still want to go). Personally, I think you should first develop an airtight theme which is missing here. You circle around the human side of it but that could be many things--like being the tip of the spear, human connections, living with purpose, etc. Pick a tight theme and build it. This is just two stories that impacted you. Not terrible, but not great.

Also cut the part about it meaning nothing to help the cause of justice. It is not what you mean, and so, you butcher it.

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3v3ryth1ng
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:10 am

kublaikahn wrote:This could be good, but you leave the value in it laying there. reflect deeper. How did you feel when moises opened up to you? Were you prepared? Did it motivate you? Did your perspective change. Build that in after that line, then shift to your ability to empathize based on similar circumstances (if that is the way you still want to go). Personally, I think you should first develop an airtight theme which is missing here. You circle around the human side of it but that could be many things--like being the tip of the spear, human connections, living with purpose, etc. Pick a tight theme and build it. This is just two stories that impacted you. Not terrible, but not great.

Also cut the part about it meaning nothing to help the cause of justice. It is not what you mean, and so, you butcher it.


Yeah, I was typing the in the early AM on a work night, so I definitely skimped on the depth, especially considering that my experience with Moises was the most rewarding experience of my life.

My theme was something like "people are beautiful," or "triumph of the human spirit." That's probably the aspect of working that inspires me the most, and I thought it would be a good theme considering my PI intentions. What do you think would be an example of a tight theme? Is this a good theme, or am I just not conveying it in the right way?

The part about me not wanting to help the cause of social justice is correct. I think that's the wrong reason to want to help someone. I think the very idea promotes hatred and division, while ironically underserving the broad groups of people it seeks justice for. You create change by helping people, not races/social classes (numbers, as described above), and I have seen so many people burn out just because they don't understand that. Do you still think it's better left unsaid? Did it just come out wrong, or is that an offensive idea?

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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:31 am

To anyone else reading:

The part about my student dying- does it come off as exploitative? I included this because it's supposed to convey the idea that moments I've spent with people are valuable in themselves, that his life was not a waste, and that I view those "statistics" are people.

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laxbrah420
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby laxbrah420 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:27 am

I always find the line, "There are some who..." to be in poor taste, especially without evidence or sympathizing with that side.
some people don't care about other people. I do though!!

Just my 2 cents

auntjulia
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby auntjulia » Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:32 am

I'll give you a paragraph by paragraph and then my general thoughts.

Who Cares?

Who cares if Moises Lopez drops out of school? Who cares if Robert Nelson lives or dies? What does it matter?

To some, these are just names to accompany statistics on the back page of the Sunday paper. To me, however, they are not names. They were my students at Animo Locke II Charter High School in Los Angeles, and they are people. (good)

The power of those crucial moments in which one forever alters the trajectory and worldview of another human being is woefully understated in cinema. I’ve found, in my experience, that true meaning comes not from actions themselves (for these can be replaced and replicated), but from the relationships we build and the lives we touch. Teaching has taught me, among other things, that people are not numbers. Numbers don’t cry, they don’t bleed, and they definitely don’t have dreams.
(i didn't catch the irony in the first sentence until I read you saying it was meant to be humorous, change it. Rest of the paragraph is good.) Also, first sentence may be grammatically correct but there's a possible semantic problem. If you intend to use "trajectory" in a figurative sense, you should not pair it with a tangible object. The way you use it, it sounds like you are speaking of changing the path of flight of an airborne human being.

Moises Lopez has dreams though. I know because I remember those tearful days in my detention when he confessed as much. He never told his mother because she was too busy doing drugs with her boyfriend to listen, but he always wanted to be a veterinarian. Actually, he hadn’t bothered telling anyone before, because he didn’t think they’d believe him.
(very good)

Like Moises, I’d had my dreams cynically cast aside by others before. It had affected him such that he no longer believed his dreams could manifest. Through months of hard work with his writing and reading skills, however, I was able to convince Moises that he could realize his dreams. Moises looks much happier now that his writing has improved. I know that he’s not a number because numbers can’t smile.
(Very good)
Robert Nelson had dreams too. He earned the first and last “A” of his lifetime in my summer school class.
Like Robert, I had been an RSP (special education) student, the kind most teachers quickly dispose of. However, my true potential, dormant and typically hidden from public view, was always there for those who chose to recognize it. When I heard Robert tell me, still smiling from news of his “A,” that he was ready to change his life, I believed him.

Robert wanted to be an Engineer, and given enough time, he may have lived that dream. I feel fortunate that I could have helped him reach his goals, even if it was only for a little while. The mountains Robert scaled in his short time on Earth, though they may not seem like much on paper, will never be fully captured by the statistics that appeared next to his name in the Los Angeles Times on September 3rd, 2010, because unlike Robert, numbers never live.
(I think the part about Robert is good, I don't feel like you're exploiting his death because you seem sincere in your writing.)

I’ve spent the last 4 years building my school. While this has often meant enormous sacrifice, financially and emotionally, I have absolutely no regrets. Staying late after work to design school-wide literacy intervention plans doesn’t bother me; nor does spending my vacation time to interview and hire quality teachers for my English department team. I don’t even care about the red ink from my grading pen, or the stains it leaves on my shirts. If I can help one person, the sacrifice is worth it. (good)

Ultimately, it means nothing to help the causes of equality or social justice. It means everything to help Moises Lopez, Robert Nelson, Kelvin Barrera, Kamry Barrow, Aubrey Ross, Gabriela Barajas, and LaQuesha McAdoo. This would be true whether I were teaching, practicing law, or scooping ice cream at Baskin Robins. It is this thought, as I prepare for my career in law, that must guide my path above all else: God put me on this Earth to help people.
(I think you have misinterpreted what it means to help social justice or equality. Everything you describe yourself doing at the school further the causes of equality and social justice. Helping social justice is an abstract way of saying that you've done something good for students who needed it. When you work on a literacy campaign you are helping the cause of educational equality. If you're not understanding me, refer to a philosophy textbook.

We do not live in a zero-sum world, social justice does not require that some people are gaining at the expense of others. It is not an inherently divisive goal. Some advocates of social justice present the issue in that way, true-- but many don't.

The Civil Rights Movement was, in abstract terms, about gaining social justice and equality for a persecuted group. I don't think you intend to, or should try to cast yourself in opposition to those causes.

But I like the turn of phrase you set up between the first and second sentences. Change the first sentence to reflect the idea that you don't see yourself as working towards some partisan agenda. If you want to use numbers to make it extra pithy, you could try working in "99%" and "1%, " for a topical reference. You gotta be careful you don't piss anyone off with stuff like that, though.)



Overall, I think this was a very good essay. You came across as earnest, sincere, dedicated and hardworking. I thought your anecdotes and your obvious passion were moving- and I consider myself to be a keen detector of bullshit.

The thing I think this essay needs to include is more about why you want to go to law school. Personally, after reading this essay, I wish you'd keep your job as a teacher because you sound like you're great at it and we need more people who are great at it-- "to help the causes of social justice and equality" ;-). If I'm an ADCOMM, I'm wondering what you intend to do with your degree that is so pressing that you're leaving a position where you're doing so much good for these kids who clearly mean so much to you. Not trying to guilt trip, I just think that needs addressed in this essay.

Now, admissions strategies aside, I think you really ought to be careful about getting into law if you like teaching. PI law doesn't pay very well, from what I know, and it'll be a while before you're making as much as you did teaching (I'm speculating a bit).

I feel like a lot of do-gooder types want to get a law degree because law is a prestigious field compared to teaching or working up the ranks of a non-profit but I think in a lot of cases they compromise their own career-satisfaction in doing so. I'm not trying to patronize you I just hope you have a great reason for leaving a position you enjoy, where your talents are direly needed.

If you want me to look over subsequent drafts, feel free to send me a PM. I'd also love to hear what you want to do with a law degree.
Last edited by auntjulia on Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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laxbrah420
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby laxbrah420 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:42 am

same with the "understated in cinema", without pointing to any examples or explaining why..Why are you talking about cinema in the first place? And in my opinion, movies over dramatize reality and are overtly emotional, not the other way.

And also, before you taught, you thought people were numbers...but then teaching made you realize that people aren't numbers...because people have dreams, tears, smiles, blood, etc...? I think you're trying to be a bit too profound without considering exactly the implications of your words.

Switching tense from has dreams to had dreams, although correct and necessary, also feels a bit strange. I feel like I've misread something at first.

And then your last part sort of doesn't make sense. Yes, it means something to help people, but how can you say that it means nothing to help worthy causes if you don't know the specific people you're helping? You may have a point, but you don't really justify it. You do a good job of showing how important it is to help people...because you can indeed alter their lives, but I am not convinced that working at a more macro level is such a bad thing (which is ultimately what your paper seeks to prove I think).

I don't think the death is exploitative but I am not sure that you made it clear that you cherished the valuable time anyways. I'd almost argue the other way --that working hard at being an engineer and then dying is indeed a failure/waste of time. I think if you could communicate with Robert today and ask him if he would have spent his time differently had he known he was going to die prematurely, he'd probably say yea I'd have done more fun stuff....
of course that's not the point, but I think you should make your point a little more clear and perhaps back it up a bit

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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:08 pm

auntjulia wrote:I'll give you a paragraph by paragraph and then my general thoughts.

Who Cares?

Who cares if Moises Lopez drops out of school? Who cares if Robert Nelson lives or dies? What does it matter?

To some, these are just names to accompany statistics on the back page of the Sunday paper. To me, however, they are not names. They were my students at Animo Locke II Charter High School in Los Angeles, and they are people. (good)

The power of those crucial moments in which one forever alters the trajectory and worldview of another human being is woefully understated in cinema. I’ve found, in my experience, that true meaning comes not from actions themselves (for these can be replaced and replicated), but from the relationships we build and the lives we touch. Teaching has taught me, among other things, that people are not numbers. Numbers don’t cry, they don’t bleed, and they definitely don’t have dreams.
(i didn't catch the irony in the first sentence until I read you saying it was meant to be humorous, change it. Rest of the paragraph is good.) Also, first sentence may be grammatically correct but there's a possible semantic problem. If you intend to use "trajectory" in a figurative sense, you should not pair it with a tangible object. The way you use it, it sounds like you are speaking of changing the path of flight of an airborne human being.

Moises Lopez has dreams though. I know because I remember those tearful days in my detention when he confessed as much. He never told his mother because she was too busy doing drugs with her boyfriend to listen, but he always wanted to be a veterinarian. Actually, he hadn’t bothered telling anyone before, because he didn’t think they’d believe him.
(very good)

Like Moises, I’d had my dreams cynically cast aside by others before. It had affected him such that he no longer believed his dreams could manifest. Through months of hard work with his writing and reading skills, however, I was able to convince Moises that he could realize his dreams. Moises looks much happier now that his writing has improved. I know that he’s not a number because numbers can’t smile.
(Very good)
Robert Nelson had dreams too. He earned the first and last “A” of his lifetime in my summer school class.
Like Robert, I had been an RSP (special education) student, the kind most teachers quickly dispose of. However, my true potential, dormant and typically hidden from public view, was always there for those who chose to recognize it. When I heard Robert tell me, still smiling from news of his “A,” that he was ready to change his life, I believed him.

Robert wanted to be an Engineer, and given enough time, he may have lived that dream. I feel fortunate that I could have helped him reach his goals, even if it was only for a little while. The mountains Robert scaled in his short time on Earth, though they may not seem like much on paper, will never be fully captured by the statistics that appeared next to his name in the Los Angeles Times on September 3rd, 2010, because unlike Robert, numbers never live.
(I think the part about Robert is good, I don't feel like you're exploiting his death because you seem sincere in your writing.)

I’ve spent the last 4 years building my school. While this has often meant enormous sacrifice, financially and emotionally, I have absolutely no regrets. Staying late after work to design school-wide literacy intervention plans doesn’t bother me; nor does spending my vacation time to interview and hire quality teachers for my English department team. I don’t even care about the red ink from my grading pen, or the stains it leaves on my shirts. If I can help one person, the sacrifice is worth it. (good)

Ultimately, it means nothing to help the causes of equality or social justice. It means everything to help Moises Lopez, Robert Nelson, Kelvin Barrera, Kamry Barrow, Aubrey Ross, Gabriela Barajas, and LaQuesha McAdoo. This would be true whether I were teaching, practicing law, or scooping ice cream at Baskin Robins. It is this thought, as I prepare for my career in law, that must guide my path above all else: God put me on this Earth to help people.
(I think you have misinterpreted what it means to help social justice or equality. Everything you describe yourself doing at the school further the causes of equality and social justice. Helping social justice is an abstract way of saying that you've done something good for students who needed it. When you work on a literacy campaign you are helping the cause of educational equality. If you're not understanding me, refer to a philosophy textbook.

We do not live in a zero-sum world, social justice does not require that some people are gaining at the expense of others. It is not an inherently divisive goal. Some advocates of social justice present the issue in that way, true-- but many don't.

The Civil Rights Movement was, in abstract terms, about gaining social justice and equality for a persecuted group. I don't think you intend to, or should try to cast yourself in opposition to those causes.

But I like the turn of phrase you set up between the first and second sentences. Change the first sentence to reflect the idea that you don't see yourself as working towards some partisan agenda. If you want to use numbers to make it extra pithy, you could try working in "99%" and "1%, " for a topical reference. You gotta be careful you don't piss anyone off with stuff like that, though.)



Overall, I think this was a very good essay. You came across as earnest, sincere, dedicated and hardworking. I thought your anecdotes and your obvious passion were moving- and I consider myself to be a keen detector of bullshit.

The thing I think this essay needs to include is more about why you want to go to law school. Personally, after reading this essay, I wish you'd keep your job as a teacher because you sound like you're great at it and we need more people who are great at it-- "to help the causes of social justice and equality" ;-). If I'm an ADCOMM, I'm wondering what you intend to do with your degree that is so pressing that you're leaving a position where you're doing so much good for these kids who clearly mean so much to you. Not trying to guilt trip, I just think that needs addressed in this essay.

Now, admissions strategies aside, I think you really ought to be careful about getting into law if you like teaching. PI law doesn't pay very well, from what I know, and it'll be a while before you're making as much as you did teaching (I'm speculating a bit).

I feel like a lot of do-gooder types want to get a law degree because law is a prestigious field compared to teaching or working up the ranks of a non-profit but I think in a lot of cases they compromise their own career-satisfaction in doing so. I'm not trying to patronize you I just hope you have a great reason for leaving a position you enjoy, where your talents are direly needed.

If you want me to look over subsequent drafts, feel free to send me a PM. I'd also love to hear what you want to do with a law degree.


Wow. That was super helpful! Thanks for all the thoughtful analysis- and just in time for the weekend :) I'll have plenty of time to revise.

So, you brought up something that has been bothering me. How does, "I've been successful in X field" = "I should be a lawyer?" The next question for most people would be "if you're so good at X job, why don't you just do that instead?"

My "on the record answer" (which is true) is that my particular skill set (writing, reasoning, creative thinking) combined with my dedication to public service would lend itself particularly well to public interest law. I also identify very closely with people who are misunderstood or given-up-on, as I was an extremely troubled youth. Like, people that knew me thought I would end up dead or in jail before my 21st birthday. So, I want to be a public defender, to advocate for people who need it the most.

I have some "other" reasons too. First, I CAN'T STAND TEACHERS, especially English teachers. They're such contrarians; they always have to have some opinion on matters that don't need them. That would be fine if it weren't for the fact that many of them should actually be students in a high school class room. I'm not exaggerating. I actually had to teach one English teacher every piece of content he is currently teaching. He didn't know what a semicolon was for!

I can't stand grading. It's boring, repetitive, time-consuming, and it never ends. I can't stand the partisan politics of this job. I can't stand the fact that there is absolutely no way to do this job 100% correctly and have a life at the same time. The only part I like is the actual teaching, and maybe sometimes planning.

But the most important reason is that, when it comes to children, they need love, and love is not something I can endlessly give. Each of the several hundred students I've taught is genuinely special and unique, and I can honestly treat them that way. That's why, even when they're angry and they trust no one, they will open up and learn from me. They know I believe in them. What if I had 2000 students though? 10,000? Their significance is diminished. That's not BS- some of the teachers that have been doing it for 20+ years are the worst in the business. There are some who have found balance with it, but not me. In my situation, the prospect of burning out emotionally is very real. I will leave teaching soon, law school or not, because I'm not going to do a job like this if my heart isn't 100% in it.

PI law, especially public defense, is way for me to help people while remaining a little more emotionally neutral. The crux of the job will be my reasoning/writing/speaking ability, and it will depend far less on intangibles (I'm referring to the "art" of teaching). I interned with the public defender for about a year. I know what they do, and I can get behind it 100%. I think I can do that job well, and do it without burning out. "Biglaw," as someone above mentioned, is off the table. I am not interested in that whatsoever, and I don't care about the money (well, it's not my primary motivation).

Speaking of money, teaching doesn't pay that much. Public defenders in my area make more starting, so it is a wise financial decision. While most people have nice things to say about my job (there is some "glory" that comes with it), I don't care about prestige. In fact, the kind of law I want to practice would probably draw the ire of most people ("Why do you want to defend criminals?").

None of this is to diminish the time I've spent teaching. It's been almost "magical." But I can't do it forever. These days will stay forever in my heart, but I don't want to find out what it's like to be bitter and cynical. It's time to move on.

Lastly, I get what you're saying about social justice. There's no way I'd be against the idea that minorities should have equal opportunities for success. But sometimes I wonder who these social justice people are angry at. Social justice implies that there's social injustice, but it's not the same kind of tangible injustice that existed in the 60's. My student LaQuesha is a 3rd generation foster child (three generations of no family unit in any capacity), yet she's smart enough to be cum laude at a university. Why do I want to help her parents just because they're black? She's not important to them, so they're not important to me. She doesn't think of herself as "LaQuesha the black girl," she's just a great girl trying to have a good life. I just want to help LaQuesha. She will serve social justice by being successful. But I'm not going to BS her and tell her white people did it, or that someone else is responsible for her situation. That's not fair to her, and it's not fair to the person I'd be pointing my finger at. So, to be clear about my goals, yes I want "social justice"- equality and equity for all- and I hope we get there. But mostly I just want to help people who need it.

I know that can be an offensive idea, especially when so many people alive today were alive back when we had segregation (not that long ago). It's probably better that I don't talk about it.

Thanks for all the advice! I'm going to "fine-tooth" this thing, and I'll PM you about it. If you need me to read anything for you, I'll gladly take a look!

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laxbrah420
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby laxbrah420 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:12 pm

Ive been thinking about what you wrote and it kind of pissed me off.
In a scenario where you're presented two options, the first you press a button and you impact the lives of 5 anonymous people (let's say they die should you not press the button), or you press a second button and meet a person and save his life...you press the second button?

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3v3ryth1ng
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:21 pm

laxbrah420 wrote:same with the "understated in cinema", without pointing to any examples or explaining why..Why are you talking about cinema in the first place? And in my opinion, movies over dramatize reality and are overtly emotional, not the other way.

And also, before you taught, you thought people were numbers...but then teaching made you realize that people aren't numbers...because people have dreams, tears, smiles, blood, etc...? I think you're trying to be a bit too profound without considering exactly the implications of your words.

Switching tense from has dreams to had dreams, although correct and necessary, also feels a bit strange. I feel like I've misread something at first.

And then your last part sort of doesn't make sense. Yes, it means something to help people, but how can you say that it means nothing to help worthy causes if you don't know the specific people you're helping? You may have a point, but you don't really justify it. You do a good job of showing how important it is to help people...because you can indeed alter their lives, but I am not convinced that working at a more macro level is such a bad thing (which is ultimately what your paper seeks to prove I think).

I don't think the death is exploitative but I am not sure that you made it clear that you cherished the valuable time anyways. I'd almost argue the other way --that working hard at being an engineer and then dying is indeed a failure/waste of time. I think if you could communicate with Robert today and ask him if he would have spent his time differently had he known he was going to die prematurely, he'd probably say yea I'd have done more fun stuff....
of course that's not the point, but I think you should make your point a little more clear and perhaps back it up a bit


Awesome input! I agree with you, especially the part about my deceased student. I have to make it more clear how he changed me, and how it relates to my motivation.

From what I gather, my discussion of social justice is faux pas, so I'm leaving it out from now on (even though I'm not necessarily against it, I just think it's the wrong reason to help an individual person).

Now the first part about "cinema," that's a sentence that irked a few people, so I'm changing it. Basically it's true though- it's more intense in real life than in the movies. There's no background music (usually), but if it's real, you just feel like "wow, that totally just happened." Then you cry. :P

auntjulia
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby auntjulia » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:13 pm

Op, I disagree with all of the people telling you to "go deeper" and "describe how you felt" in reaction to such and such.

I think your natural writing instincts served you well. "Show don't tell." Describing your emotional reactions or the way you've changed won't be nearly as compelling as the anecdotes you've related. They speak for themselves. Plus, with the major constraints in space you face, it's better to model yourself after Hemmingway than Hawthorne.



And on the burnout thing, I totally agree. I worked with kids for a year and it was emotionally exhausting. But I think you're right not to list that as a reason. I imagine it's hard for anyone who hasn't worked in such a challenging situation to understand. Kids from these backgrounds often have no other caring adults they can go to so they project lots of roles (parent, mentor) onto you, because they know you care. It's extremely tough.

I think you should just say that although you love teaching, you felt you're true calling while working at the public defender's office and talk briefly about what you did. That's credible and respectable. You do have good reasons for wanting to be a lawyer.

Btw, and you probably already know to do this, but if I were you I'd focus on an area you want to work in, immediately start building connections at the PD's office, go to school in that area on the cheap and network heavily with the relevant people. From what I understand, PDs don't need incredible grades or law school pedigree. It's more about having an in.

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3v3ryth1ng
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Sat Dec 10, 2011 6:17 pm

auntjulia wrote:Op, I disagree with all of the people telling you to "go deeper" and "describe how you felt" in reaction to such and such.

I think your natural writing instincts served you well. "Show don't tell." Describing your emotional reactions or the way you've changed won't be nearly as compelling as the anecdotes you've related. They speak for themselves. Plus, with the major constraints in space you face, it's better to model yourself after Hemmingway than Hawthorne.



And on the burnout thing, I totally agree. I worked with kids for a year and it was emotionally exhausting. But I think you're right not to list that as a reason. I imagine it's hard for anyone who hasn't worked in such a challenging situation to understand. Kids from these backgrounds often have no other caring adults they can go to so they project lots of roles (parent, mentor) onto you, because they know you care. It's extremely tough.

I think you should just say that although you love teaching, you felt you're true calling while working at the public defender's office and talk briefly about what you did. That's credible and respectable. You do have good reasons for wanting to be a lawyer.

Btw, and you probably already know to do this, but if I were you I'd focus on an area you want to work in, immediately start building connections at the PD's office, go to school in that area on the cheap and network heavily with the relevant people. From what I understand, PDs don't need incredible grades or law school pedigree. It's more about having an in.


I still know a few people from the PD. All the attorneys I met while I was there were from respectable universities (UCLA, Hastings, Cornell), but I never inquired about the grades. I'll anticipate it being a tough job market, just in case :)

I'm rewriting the PS right now. Seriously, thanks for the thoughtful input, even though I'm a complete stranger!

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3v3ryth1ng
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:33 am

Here is my updated 2nd draft. I know it's quite a bit longer. The first version I tried to keep around 500 words, but I felt it was too constricting. This new version is just over 2 pages at 11 point Times New Roman (877 words). I can probably find a way to edit it down to under 2 pages.

Here's what I'm trying to show:
-I'm genuinely dedicated to serving the public interest, and I am willing to fight/sacrifice for it; "real deal," not just talk about it.
-I live life with a genuine sense of purpose; I'm NOT cynical.
-I'm compassionate, thoughtful, and reflective.
-I'm professionally effective and mature (but not dull).
-I'm a good writer, I have a decent vocabulary, and my thoughts are organized.
-I would make a good law student, and then a good lawyer.

Here's what I want to know:
-Am I demonstrating what I described above, and to what extent?
-Does any part of it confuse or put you off? What would make it better?
-Is there anything you'd add? Anything you'd remove?
-I haven't really gone through for grammar just yet (I need to make sure all the ideas are out first), but do you have any input on grammar?
-You general opinions or thoughts on it!
(please remember to vote in the poll too)

Thanks TLS!


If Moises Lopez cries, and no one hears, does he make a sound? If Robert Nelson dies and society doesn’t notice, does he matter? To the cynics of the world, these are just names to accompany statistics on the back page of the Sunday paper. To me, however, they are more than names or statistics; they were my students at Animo Locke II Charter High School in Los Angeles.

Together, in the four years since my co-workers and I established our school as part of an effort to transform Locke High School and the surrounding South Los Angeles neighborhood, we’ve raised overall literacy, increased student retention, helped reduce the crime rate, and God willing, by the end of this year when our first class graduates, we will have increased the graduation rate.

While these numbers are encouraging and certainly welcome, I must never lose sight of the fact that it’s people who matter, not numbers. Numbers don’t cry, they don’t bleed, and they definitely don’t have dreams.

Robert Nelson had dreams though. After earning the first “A” of his lifetime in my summer school class, they were bigger than ever before. This small taste of success was enough to reignite his belief in his own capabilities, even after nine years labeled as a “bad kid.” The “A” represented more than just the broken pencils, tears of frustration, and hours we spent in tutoring; it represented a defiant reaffirmation of his potential as a human being.

Like Robert, in high school I was an RSP (special education) student, the sort of which many teachers opt to send elsewhere. I too was labeled a “bad kid,” and I too had internalized others’ low expectations. My true potential remained dormant, untapped for the majority of my time as a high school student. There was a corner of my heart, however, that would not relinquish my visions. It was this part of my heart that decided to show up for class, and it was this part of me that decided to attempt college, even when pushed toward vocational training or military enlistment. There was little evidence of it, but this part of me existed, regardless of whether anyone else thought so or not.

It was this side of myself that I saw in Robert. Thus I could not view him as a “bad kid,” because to embrace that notion, I would have to accept the same beliefs about myself. When an ecstatic Robert approached me on the last day of school and told me that he was ready to change his life, I believed him. In his smile, I saw the part of Robert Nelson that still proclaimed, despite all he’d been through, “There is light inside my soul! I am a good person, and I want to be successful!” Those words echoed in my mind as I watched him ride his bicycle out of the parking lot, then out of my life forever.

Robert wanted to be an Engineer, and given enough time, he may have lived that dream. The mountains Robert scaled, even if they didn’t seem like much, can never be fully captured by the statistics that appeared next to his name in the Los Angeles Times on September 3rd, 2010.

For months, my experience with Robert troubled me. What did his “A” mean? Was his cameo in my life just a reason for me to collect a paycheck? If the dreams he worked so hard to realize could be so abruptly halted, why did he bother pursuing them at all? Eventually I arrived at the only conclusion I could justify: the time we spent together was valuable in itself. Grades, scores, and money don’t matter in the end. True meaning lives not in our accomplishments or possessions, but in the relationships we build and the lives we touch each day.

I’ve come to view the opportunity to change lives as a privilege, not a responsibility. I’m grateful for every capacity I’ve served in, whether it’s been as the English department chair, an advisor to after school programs, or a mentor. Staying late after work to design school-wide literacy intervention plans doesn’t bother me; nor does spending my vacation time to interview and hire quality teachers for my English Department team. I don’t even care about the way red ink from my grading pen leaves stains on my shirts. None of that will matter when I watch the class of 2012 walk across the stage later this year. I don’t do it for me, and I don’t do it for society; I do it for people like Moises Lopez, Aubrey Ross, LaQuesha McAdoo, Gabriela Barajas, and Kamry Barrow.

Whether I’m serving as a teacher, an attorney, or an ice cream scooper at Baskin Robins, I will be guided by the idea that people are ends in themselves. It’s easy to accept, for selfish reasons, the premise that when other people suffer, society’s overall quality of life is diminished. However, to feel the pain of another human being, if that is possible, is to fully understand that, in innumerable profound ways, our lives are connected. Each one of us matters, even if no one hears us when we cry, and even if no one notices when we die.

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laxbrah420
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement *UPDATED WITH 2ND DRAFT!*

Postby laxbrah420 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:31 am

Again, I'll challenge you to this:
You can save 5 lives but you never get to meet them, or you can save 1 life and you do meet the bro. You're clearly taking the latter, but why? I think you've almost explained it, but there's still a little bit of ambiguity.

And lose the stuff about numbers not crying

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3v3ryth1ng
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement *UPDATED WITH 2ND DRAFT!*

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:58 am

laxbrah420 wrote:Again, I'll challenge you to this:
You can save 5 lives but you never get to meet them, or you can save 1 life and you do meet the bro. You're clearly taking the latter, but why? I think you've almost explained it, but there's still a little bit of ambiguity.

And lose the stuff about numbers not crying

Id say that my position is mischaracterized to suggest I'm against helping people on a large scale if I can't meet them. I'm saying that helping a demographic is a bad motivation for helping any particular person, and it is. It amounts to racism, class warfare, or sexism. Ask anyone who happens to not be in that demographic. And if some people are more important than others, it's hypocritical to claim you're fighting for equality. Most of all, it devalues the importance of each individual person.

...and I know my position is too easy to misinterpret or cariacature. I will leave it out. :P

kublaikahn
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement - Please comment!

Postby kublaikahn » Sat Dec 17, 2011 4:37 pm

3v3ryth1ng wrote:Moises Lopez cries, and no one listens. Robert Nelson dies and it goes unnoticed. Does he not matter? To most, these are indistinctive names behind statistics on the back page of newspaper. To me they mean more. They were my students at Animo Locke II Charter High School in Los Angeles. My co-workers and I established our school as part of an effort to transform Locke High School and the surrounding South Los Angeles neighborhood. We have raised literacy, increased retention, and literally helped save lives. While the numbers are encouraging, I have found that change occurs one person at a time, human-to-human. It’s people who matter, not numbers. Numbers don’t have dreams.

Robert Nelson had dreams though. And after earning his first “A” in my summer school class, they grew bigger than ever. Despite years of failure and being dismissed as a “bad kid", this small success was enough to reignite his belief in his own capabilities, The “A” represented more than just the broken pencils, tears of frustration, and hours we spent in tutoring; it reaffirmed his potential as a human being. I know what it meant to him because like Robert, I too wore the moniker of the “bad kid.” and I too had internalized others’ low expectations. But in some small corner of my heart, I had not yet given up. So it was with Robert, and I saw myself in him.

When an ecstatic Robert approached me on the last day of school I delighted in his proclamation, “There is light inside my soul! I am a good person, and I want to be successful!” Those words echoed in my mind as I watched him ride his bicycle out of the parking lot, then out of my life forever. Robert wanted to be an Engineer, and given enough time, he may have fulfilled that dream.

For months, my experience with Robert weighed on me. What did that “A” mean? If his dreams he worked so hard to realize could be so abruptly halted, what was the point? Had I built up his hope to no end? Eventually I arrived at the only conclusion I could justify: the time we spent together was a great value to him and to me. True meaning lives not in our accomplishments or possessions, but in the relationships we invest in.

I have come to view the opportunity to change lives as a privilege, not just a duty. Staying late after work to develop literacy intervention plans and giving up vacation to interview and hire quality teachers are a part of that privilege. I am okay with the way red ink from my grading pen leaves stains on my shirts. When I watch the class of 2012 walk across the stage later this year, I will be proud of their progress, and I will be thinking of Robert. I do not do it for me, and, to be fair, I do not do it for society. I do it for them.

Whether I’m serving as a teacher, an attorney, or an ice cream scooper at Baskin Robins, I will be guided by the idea that people are ends in themselves. It’s easy to accept the premise that when other people suffer, society’s overall quality of life is diminished. But I am willing to share in the pain and the struggle of others because in innumerable profound ways, our lives become connected. Each one of us matters, and each of us belongs.

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laxbrah420
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Re: My (intense) Personal Statement *UPDATED WITH 2ND DRAFT!*

Postby laxbrah420 » Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:32 pm

3v3ryth1ng wrote:
laxbrah420 wrote:Again, I'll challenge you to this:
You can save 5 lives but you never get to meet them, or you can save 1 life and you do meet the bro. You're clearly taking the latter, but why? I think you've almost explained it, but there's still a little bit of ambiguity.

And lose the stuff about numbers not crying

Id say that my position is mischaracterized to suggest I'm against helping people on a large scale if I can't meet them. I'm saying that helping a demographic is a bad motivation for helping any particular person, and it is. It amounts to racism, class warfare, or sexism. Ask anyone who happens to not be in that demographic. And if some people are more important than others, it's hypocritical to claim you're fighting for equality. Most of all, it devalues the importance of each individual person.

...and I know my position is too easy to misinterpret or cariacature. I will leave it out. :P

Oh that's awesome. I like this a lot.




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