Personal Statement - Please read and comment

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Personal Statement - Please read and comment

Postby kdoyon812 » Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:11 pm

Please provide any comments, reactions, criticisms etc...they are very much appreciated.

Growing up in a single parent household, constantly dipping just above or below the poverty line was one of the most difficult aspects of my childhood. At the age of twelve, I had to become a parent figure for my then five year old brother; I got a job when I was fifteen, helping my mom pay for what her income and food stamps could not. It all seemed very unfair at the time, but looking back it helped me become the person that I am today; it taught me about independence, hard work, and has motivated me to succeed.

My situation growing up forced me to become independent at an early age. I found myself paying for almost everything myself from my first paycheck at the age of fifteen until now; from clothes to a cell phone to a vehicle and finally to a college education, if I wanted it, I had to earn it. At the age of fifteen I was opening my own bank account and filing my own taxes. It was something that I grew accustomed to; an independent lifestyle and working hard for what I wanted, and these experiences have lead me to a passion of working with children in similar economic and social circumstances.

I had the opportunity to follow this passion during my junior year at XXXX University, through the XXXX Program. The project, a European Union - United States consortium between four domestic universities and three foreign universities, all in different countries, is funded through a grant through the Atlantis Program and the U.S. Department of Education. My experience consisted of a semester long study abroad experience in Barcelona, Spain, completing coursework in international social services coupled with an internship at a social service agency. At this agency, XXXX Agency, I had the opportunity to work with immigrant children living in Barcelona who were in poor socioeconomic situations, providing after school support services. I worked with children from Morocco, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bolivia, and Romania, among others. What began on the first day with children swearing at me, spitting on me, and punching me as a new intern ended in a tearful goodbye between the group of children and myself. I grew close with them over my time, and though I was sad to go, I know that my experiences growing up allowed me to relate to these children in many ways. More importantly I was able to leave knowing that I had a positive impact on the lives of these children and hopefully their futures.

Coming back from Spain, I continued to seek new experiences where I could continue to help in a similar way, and sought out an internship at the State of XXXX Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) with Child Protective Services, where I have had the opportunity to work collaboratively in an initiative called XXXX Project. XXXX Project was developed in order to bring together all possible resources to keep children safe in their homes and communities, and to provide services with a prevention focus, to prevent child abuse and neglect. Through this program I work collaboratively with local law enforcement, parents, local school officials, DHHS caseworkers and many local social service providers. I attend bi-weekly neighborhood team meetings where I am able to give a university student perspective on issues faced by the community and participate in active discussion regarding what can be done to combat these issues. I conduct child and parent interviews to determine child safety, and facilitate family team meetings to determine family plans for child safety. Though I cannot necessarily see a direct impact of my work through XXXX Program, I know that the hard work that I put in contributes to making a difference in the community and in the lives of these children, and I am proud of that.

My experiences growing up have shaped me into who I am today and have lead me to follow a passion for helping children. I have a similar passion for the law and intend to finally follow that passion in the near future by obtaining a legal education and eventually pursuing a career in law. Growing up in an independent lifestyle and in an economic hardship has taught me the value of independence, time management and hard work, all things which will be invaluable when confronting the hardship that I will soon face in obtaining a legal education. It will be just that, a hardship, and I will be confronted by obstacles that are financial, mental, and emotional. Confronting similar obstacles growing up has taught me something very important: if I want it, I have to earn it; and I intend to do just that.
Last edited by kdoyon812 on Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Personal Statement - Please read and comment

Postby YoungProfessional » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:36 am

I like it. Very straight to the point. i enjoyed reading your story.

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Re: Personal Statement - Please read and comment

Postby JasonR » Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:47 pm

Very nice overall. A few quick suggestions/observations:

1) Semi-colon use is a bit excessive in the first two paragraphs. The second and third semis are OK. The first should be a period. The fourth should either be a regular colon or the first of two dashes, the second coming after "wanted" (I prefer the dashes). Don't end the PS with a sentence containing a semi-colon, either.

2) I spotted a couple instances of "have lead." That should be "have led."

3) The concept summarized one of the three "its" that show up in the last two sentences of para 1 should be spelled out again in a different way.

4) I feel like the word "children" shows up a couple of times too many in the second half of para 3. Try "their lives" instead of "the lives of these children" in the final sentence. There's already a "these children" in the preceding sentence, and "their lives" better parallels "their futures."

5) Paragraphs 3 and 4 are excellent overall. The final paragraph doesn't live up to them. I'm waiting to hear about how your experiences with helping children tie in to the areas of law you're interested in exploring in LS. Instead, your passion for helping children merely parallels a different passion involving the nebulous concept of "the law." I would avoid most references to "the law," particularly if it involves proclaiming a passion for it before you've ever studied it.

But very good job overall. I enjoyed reading it. You come across as very authentic and likeable.
Last edited by JasonR on Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Personal Statement - Please read and comment

Postby blondgiraffe » Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:48 pm

I genuinely enjoyed reading it as well. You seem hard-working and motivated.

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Re: Personal Statement - Please read and comment

Postby kdoyon812 » Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:45 pm

Here is my problem through...I am not interested in practicing family law...this PS obviously makes for a great lead in to a conclusion about how my experiences in the past have led me to a passion for practicing law and advocating for children etc. but that's not my plan, so I obviously don't want to lie just to make a good personal statement.

I'm not sure exactly how to connect this to the law...I tried to parallel the fact that in the past I have had an interest in helping children, and I pursued that, and that I have an interest in law and plan to pursue that with dedication. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to tie the law school piece in if I don't plan to practice family law?

Also: does anyone think that I would be better off focusing my PS on JUST the piece about helping children and write a separate diversity statement about my economic hardships, or does it suffice to include it all together? I have had others tell me that writing diversity statement would be beneficial but I think that the economic hardship piece is really a big part of this's what has driven me towards wanting to help children so if I don't include that it would seem to take a big important piece out of the essay...

At the same time, it seems redundant to leave my PS the way that it is right now and then write a separate diversity statement about my economic hardship as well...does anyone agree or disagree? Would it be excessive to leave my PS the way that it is and write a diversity statement expanding on my economic hardships and what I have taken from that and how it has shaped me as a person?

Any comments are greatly appreciated, thanks for all the help so far.

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Re: Personal Statement - Please read and comment

Postby JDizzle2015 » Tue Dec 20, 2011 3:15 pm

Here are a couple of my thoughts:

In the second paragraph: "I found myself paying for almost everything myself from my first paycheck at the age of fifteen until now; from clothes to a cell phone to a vehicle and finally to a college education. If I wanted it, I had to earn it."

The third and forth paragraphs sound dangerously close to a summary of the most interesting parts of your resume--more so in the forth paragraph. You should try to avoid this on your PS. I think the third paragraph serves a valuable purpose to show your experience and what you've learned (ie that you know that you would enjoy this aspect of law from experience) but you can do away with the forth paragraph without losing much value to this statement (read: use this space to talk about something else interesting about you to give AdComm additional insight on who you are as a person). Most of what you wrote in the forth paragraph could be adequately explained on your resume by the title of your job and the short blurb below the title to list your responsibilities.

Ditto what JasonR said about lead/led.

Family law:

This is a good statement and I don't think you're misleading your reader to conclude that you're going to practice family law; it does have a public interest lean, but I don't think you have anything to worry about if you don't want to eventually practice family law.

Re diversity statement/redundancy:

I think your intro paragraph does a good job of engaging the reader so it's important to keep it. A diversity statement might be redundant, but there are definitely ways to differentiate between the two given your background. You might use a DS to go into specific instances in your childhood where you had to pick up responsibility at an earlier age relative to most of your counterparts--with greater detail than you have done here. You briefly summarize the events of your childhood in two paragraphs in your PS, which is perfect, but there are definitely ways to write a DS that gives the reader a different angle into your early life.


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