non-traditional student in need of guidance

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ea_iii
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2011 1:15 pm

non-traditional student in need of guidance

Postby ea_iii » Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:40 am

at the young age of 49, i am attempting to start a new chapter in my life with law school. my personal statement is proving a bit of a challenge as i never before thought of condensing my life into a few pages....but the following is my rough draft. advice/suggestions please?
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“Just keep living son, you’ll learn.” These words were a constant refrain from my parents whenever I “got too full of myself”. That was my grandmother’s refrain!

I grew up an African-American child of 1960’s Plaquemine, Louisiana. I’m the oldest of three boys who were blessed to have two loving, hardworking, educated, high-school teachers that just happened to be our parents. Being the oldest, I was naturally the “experimental” child, and that experimentation included choices made regarding my education. My parents desire to provide their sons with the best of all that they could afford, led to me being enrolled in parochial school for my elementary years. The students, on this large campus, ranged from kindergarten through high school and I was one of six African-Americans in the entire student body. When combining the student body ratio and the prevailing racial climate of 1960’s Louisiana with the normal daily battles of a little boy in elementary school, it results in some very difficult days. But, in retrospect, my parents were right. I just kept living, and I learned to face adversity no matter the odds.

As a young man of the 1970’s, I found myself attending high school in Knoxville, Tennessee. My parents searched for a more hospitable environment in which to raise their sons, and decided to call East Tennessee home. I found myself in a rare situation during my teen years as I was one of very few students to have both parents teaching at the same school I attended. I have no doubt that their presence kept me away from mischief, though I tried. And throughout my high school career, my parent’s daily proximity was used as a not-so-subtle prodding to constantly apply myself. This tactic worked and I became a successful student. At one point during these years, my mother had aspirations for my graduating as Valedictorian. I too was convinced that I would meet that aspiration. However, life has a way of charting unknown courses. During my quest to finish atop my graduating class, I discovered a few things about myself: first, I was old enough to work for my own money; second, I was old enough to get a driver’s license; and last, girls were not so hard to catch when you had money and a car. These previously unknown waters became the trifecta of my undoing! At the age of sixteen, I became less focused on studies. After all I knew everything I needed to know about life, or so I thought. Yes, once again, I “got too full of myself”. Eventually, I slid into seventh place in my graduating class. My parents were still proud of me finishing with honors. I too was proud of my graduation class placement. But, in retrospect, my parents were right. I just kept living, and I learned a valuable lesson about arrogance; I learned humility.

Young adulthood brought new challenges for me in the 1980’s and 90’s. I quickly married my high school sweetheart and forged ahead thinking I could manage college and life as a married man. I was very resistant to any help that my parents offered. They instilled within me the understanding of being responsible for my own actions. Therefore, it was solely my responsibility to provide for my young wife. What followed were fewer classes attended, even though I enrolled every term, and fewer assignments completed. The result of course was a disastrous academic start. Despite my self-inflicted obstacles, I was determined to finish my undergraduate degree. However, life has a way of charting unknown courses. During this prolonged undergraduate career, life presented me with a number of unexpected twists. In a 14-year period, I struggled through a marriage at 21, the loss of my grandmother, the birth of one son, the loss of my dad when he was only 50, the birth of my youngest son, the loss of my mom when she was only 55, divorce from my long time love, relocations and job changes and eventually being stricken with diabetes and myasthenia gravis (a form of muscular dystrophy). Indeed, life’s twists made for a very challenging and lengthy undergraduate career. But, in retrospect, my parents were right. I just kept living, and I learned a valuable lesson in these challenges; I learned perseverance.

My adulthood has brought about opportunities that I will always cherish. Beginning November 1988 I joined the Registrar’s Office at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville for 11 years. I served as the Athletic Compliance Specialist (monitoring student-athletes’ academic progress) and thoroughly enjoyed my tenure. In 1999, I relocated to the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga campus for a similar position. It was there where I met my wife of 7 years now. We eventually relocated to the Atlanta, Georgia area in pursuit of better income and more opportunity. With this relocation came a career change for me, and it was during August 2002 that I joined the USDA, Rural Housing Service, Rural Development. I quickly adopted the agency mission of being “committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in all of rural America”. During September 2008 I transferred to the USDA, RD office in Las Vegas, Nevada. My area focus as a Rural Housing Specialist is that of financing home loans and home repairs for residents. Rural residents are typically individuals who live on the margins economically. And even though they have the financial means, they often have very little opportunity of economic improvement since most lenders gravitate towards more populous urban areas.

Today’s political climate has brought about many frustrations for agency staff as we must still deliver our various programs, but the systemic and budgetary constraints are proving increasingly difficult to overcome. I have witnessed several colleagues give in to the frustration and either become complacent or quit altogether. For me, however, life is charting yet another course. In my desire to serve the community more completely, I recognize that pursuing a career in the legal profession will enable me to better deliver service in the public interest. I now understand how life’s lessons have guided me into adulthood and my experiences have prepared me for this moment. In retrospect, my parents were right. I just kept living, and I learned something valuable; we must all find a way to better the human condition. With the opportunity to achieve a legal education and become a public interest lawyer, I believe I have found my way.

User avatar
Liquox
Posts: 273
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:46 pm

Re: non-traditional student in need of guidance

Postby Liquox » Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:09 pm

sounds like an interesting story. if told right, it could definitely help get you into some reach schools. that being said, it's too wordy. you can tell your whole life story if you want; just be quick about it.

overall, your writing is good, though often it goes on tangents. try editing it a little more.


(source: use to work as an editor)

for example:

ea_iii wrote:“Just keep living son, you’ll learn.” These words were a constant refrain from my parents whenever I “got too full of myself”. That was my grandmother’s refrain!


this needs to go. rarely do people like quotes. even less like exclamation marks.

Being the oldest, I was naturally the “experimental” child, and that experimentation included choices made regarding my education.


this has a negative connotation, and is not a common enough idea to be held valid, much less than sympathetic.

My parents desire to provide their sons with the best of all that they could afford, led to me being enrolled in parochial school for my elementary years. The students, on this large campus, ranged from kindergarten through high school and I was one of six African-Americans in the entire student body. When combining the student body ratio and the prevailing racial climate of 1960’s Louisiana with the normal daily battles of a little boy in elementary school, it results in some very difficult days. But, in retrospect, my parents were right. I just kept living, and I learned to face adversity no matter the odds.


point? if the point is the difficulty faced during childhood, emphasize that more and the setting less.

As a young man of the 1970’s, I found myself attending high school in Knoxville, Tennessee. My parents searched for a more hospitable environment in which to raise their sons, and decided to call East Tennessee home. I found myself in a rare situation during my teen years as I was one of very few students to have both parents teaching at the same school I attended. I have no doubt that their presence kept me away from mischief, though I tried.


again, point? this is more about your parents than you. your ps should be what makes you look good to law schools. this is more of an autobiography.

ea_iii
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2011 1:15 pm

Re: non-traditional student in need of guidance

Postby ea_iii » Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:00 pm

Liquox, thanks for your input. I'm now on my fourth draft and this will help me tremendously.




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