Here's my PS, now it's your turn to critique

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

Should I work each school in by name??

Yes - explicitly call them out
No votes
No - Doesn't matter
Total votes: 4

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Here's my PS, now it's your turn to critique

Postby gitguy » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:48 pm

I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a lawyer. When I was young, I wanted to be an architect, a paleontologist, and then an astronaut. I idolized men of science and discovery, and spent my time learning about geography and the stars. Courtrooms and code sections didn’t seem to elicit the same inspiration a shuttle liftoff could. My desire to become a lawyer is instead a product of several years of self-discovery, reflection, and the gradual development of an intense interest in politics, public policy, and environmental sustainability.

I was born on the south side of Chicago and raised by my mother, who is as staunch a pro-union, blue collar Democrat as you will ever find, and a lot of that rubbed off on me. She first went to work for Bell Telephone as a phone installer at a time when women were either secretaries or stayed home, a fact they didn’t let her forget. She became a top union steward and fought discrimination at every turn, all while supporting my sister and me on her own. She showed me basic rights are not to be taken for granted, that organizing and advocacy produce real results, and that everyone deserves respect. Over time, I found that to be as inspiring as any trip into space.

After my mother moved us to Southern California in pursuit of opportunity and calmer weather we settled in Riverside County. Our town was rural and I spent much of my time out in the open spaces, but it was a place marred by the distinction of having some of the worst air quality in the nation. Some years later in my freshman year of high school, the EPA came to our football field to collect soil samples and informed us that the nearby aerospace plant, active since the Cold War, had a history of dumping spent rocket fuel constituents into the ground after testing, a fact which seemed to explain our loathsome water quality and several cases of childhood leukemia in the community.

Looking back, it was during those years that I developed a deep concern, and to be candid, deep frustration over environmental degradation. I realized that the reality for our generation is one of depleting resources, vanishing natural beauty, and a climate at the mercy of economies and political systems at odds with sustainable practices. Instability is the new norm, and gloomy ecological projections educe feelings of helplessness.

Nor is the economy a source of optimism for young people. Falling wages, reduced benefits, part-time underemployment, and widening inequality are likewise the reality. I know the job market well, I worked full time all through college, at one point with two jobs. Graveyard, morning, noon, and night for low pay – it’s hard for people to get ahead or stay afloat for that matter, and the widening chasm is creating serious social problems.

Notwithstanding, I’m not a cynic. On the contrary, I know there are solutions to each of these problems. We can adapt ecologically, and become more inclusive economically. It all starts with sound, well-informed policy. I want to study law in order to shape that policy. I believe that environmental sustainability, social justice, and some degree of economic equality are absolute imperatives to fostering a thriving global community.

I went to work canvassing for environmental and civil liberty groups including Greenpeace and HRC, face-to-face, door-to-door, talking to people about the issues. I shifted gears after my first year of college, away from engineering, and spent my time at the University of California Irvine studying public policy, law and the environment, because I learned that’s where my passion lies. My internship with the US State Department taught me how our country influences environmental policy abroad while balancing economic interests. Since graduating I’ve spent two and a half years in a firm specializing in complex civil litigation, gaining hands-on experience in the office and through several jury trials, and I have felt at home there.

My experiences have brought me to a point of resolve. I want to be an advocate, a litigator, a regulator and a force for change. I want an opportunity to craft policies that benefit the economy, the community, and the ecosystem alike. Ours will not be a lost generation, but one of renewed hope and innovation. We will balance competing interests and find ways to thrive. I want to be a part of that conversation, but first I need a seat at the table.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Here's my PS, now it's your turn to critique

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:58 pm

I thought this was good. There's a danger with this sort of PS coming off as way too naive, but even as a more cynical person I believe you pulled it off. I don't have time to offer a more in-depth proof-read, but a few quick things I noticed: Use the oxford comma and be consistent with its use (see, e.g., last two paragraphs); change the hyphen to an em dash in paragraph five; and drop "likewise" in the first sentence of paragraph five--its inclusion doesn't really make sense.

ETA: I don't see the need for working in a school's name. I would only do so if you have a very specific reason for the mention (e.g., you are very excited about certain clinics, programs, or professors, or that school is your top choice school and you want to mention that).

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