Any and all thoughts/feedback welcome

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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smustang
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Any and all thoughts/feedback welcome

Postby smustang » Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:26 pm

This is my extremely rough first draft, I'd really appreciate any recommendations or feedback. Thanks.

I'm helpless. This realization was brought to me quite recently courtesy of Managua, Nicaragua, and hit home with significant weight. After all, as a 23 year old guy, helpless is a word that shouldn't be in my basic vocabulary, let alone be applied to myself. But, alas, it is. And I am. Helpless to navigate my way through the city where I currently live where the streets literally have no name. Helpless to explain to my parents why I thought it would be a good idea to eat armadillo offered to me by a family I had just met without considering the possibility that I might get parasites (which, helplessly, I did). Helpless to tell whether or not the snake that insists on calling my front gate handle its daily sun bathing perch is venomous or not. Helpless to navigate the LSAC website with on my shoddy and earthquake inhibited Nicaraguan internet connection. Helpless to survive the routine day to day mundane existence that I once took for granted without regularly relying on the kindness of complete strangers, which luckily is abundant here. If you can't tell, I've felt helpless a lot recently. But I can pinpoint the exact moment in which I felt the most helpless. And it is also the exact same moment that affirmed my decision to go to law school and pursue a legal career.

The organization that I am volunteering with for the year runs a child sponsorship program from our clinic in La Chureca that provides food and vitamins to nursing mothers and children depending upon the age of the child. La Chureca is the largest dump in Central America and is home to hundreds if not thousands of of the most impoverished Nicaraguans in the country, which is the second poorest in the western hemisphere. There are literally no words that can aptly describe the conditions and situations that the people there must confront on a daily basis. Suffice to say, it is not a nice place. A portion of the process on the days when supplies are distributed is sitting down with the families--read child(ren) and mother since stable father figures are like unicorns in this community--and have little conversations to inquire about health, how things are at home, etc. Basically checking to see if there is any other way in which we could be providing them with assistance. During one such "consulta" that seemed routine enough to begin with, I asked a mother why her son seemed so sleepy. I expected to hear that he had been sick recently or that perhaps a flood had made the conditions of their home difficult to sleep in, relatively benign problems that are all too common there. This girl--a word choice that I cannot stress enough as she is younger than I am--subsequently proceeded to explain to me that her eight year old son couldn't get enough sleep because his father came back to their one room house nightly to rape his mother and would routinely beat him if he tried to intervene. Then, almost as an aside, she explained to me that her "husband" was HIV positive and that she feared that she too had been infected as the result of his choice in nocturnal activities. As I picked my jaw up off of the floor, I had the most horrifying realization of my life: I couldn't do anything to help her. I was completely and utterly helpless to do the job that I had come to do in bettering this woman and her child's lives. Because of some odd international developmental agreement, La Chureca is actually owned by the Spanish government. As a result of this, the Nicaraguan police basically only come in to provide security for foreign aid agencies and slum tourists. La Chureca is, in effect, a place without law. A place completely outside of a legal system that can effectively protect its inhabitants. And my organization is small. Very small. And very American. So as much good as we are able to do, when it comes to structural deficits such as these we are stymied from the get go just because of the nature of what and who we are. All I had the power to do was express my condolences and refer her to some outside Nicaraguan sources that might be able to help.

Her situation has not changed. Aside from the becoming the Batman of La Chureca, that was the best option I had. The only feeling I could liken it to would be being a doctor and having a patient with a terrible malady come into your office, inspecting them, slapping a band-aid on them, and telling them, "You should really see someone about that."

That was when when I knew. Knew that although I myself may never cease to be helpless, that the law and what it provides to our citizens is the antithesis of helplessness. And that the opportunity to make a career out of being an agent of such an equalizing force would be an honor. Our laws give voice to those that can't find their own, defend the undefended and indefensible, and dole out justice with equity. And as much of an eye-roll as a sentence like that may garner, having seen what I have seen I honestly believe it. The fact that we are not a nation of men, like some others that I have recently become acquainted with, but a nation of laws now actually holds meaning to me. And I want to be a part of that meaning.

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jcm043
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Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:28 pm

Re: Any and all thoughts/feedback welcome

Postby jcm043 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:40 pm

Rewrite that damn thing. Too long a times, too short at others. Stop feeling so helpless, are you aiming for Adcomm pitty?

zabava
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Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:30 pm

Re: Any and all thoughts/feedback welcome

Postby zabava » Fri Sep 14, 2012 1:57 am

I actually really like this, especially the first paragraph, which I found to be witty.
However, I think for law school apps, this is a tad... depressing?

Maybe you want to add some info about how you ended up being a counselor in Nicaragua? Or a story of you not being helpless, and becoming a lawyer is like the next logical step?

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Cobretti
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Re: Any and all thoughts/feedback welcome

Postby Cobretti » Fri Sep 14, 2012 2:50 am

Pretty sure any woody allen fans that read this will let you in at yale.

Seriously I like this, but you can't continue to say you're "helpless" in your closing paragraph. That's your time to focus entirely on what you're going to do, how you've learned from your experiences.

Seriously good writing though, its very intimate in a nonchalant way, and definitely connects with the reader.

endless_sekai
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Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 5:08 pm

Re: Any and all thoughts/feedback welcome

Postby endless_sekai » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:20 am

This is a really enjoyable PS, the first paragraph is a good hook and throughout your statement you show good wit and just general likeability. The beginning of the second paragraph could be more concise, I found that I got lost in the details a little bit (ie my eyes started to glaze over and skim the info). However, once you began the narrative you kicked back into gear a bit and I think you really close the paragraph and the statement off well. I think this hits the write notes in my opinion as something that won't be a run of the mill statement. Additionally, I think the humor and wit makes your story more authentic. It just gives the reader a connection with you because it reveals a bit of your personality and character in a way that isn't forced.

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CorkBoard
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Re: Any and all thoughts/feedback welcome

Postby CorkBoard » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:02 pm

Holy run on second paragraph.

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smustang
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Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:22 pm

Re: Any and all thoughts/feedback welcome

Postby smustang » Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:09 pm

Thanks for all of the feedback, I really appreciate all of them. Here's a second draft I retooled trying to take all comments into account. Once again, any pointers as to whether or not I'm going in the right direction would be greatly appreciated:


I don’t think I’ve ever felt helpless this often. This realization was brought to me quite recently courtesy of Managua, Nicaragua, and has hit home with significant weight. After all, as a twenty-three year old guy, I can’t help but feel that helpless is a word that shouldn’t be applied to myself. But, alas, it is. And I am. Helpless to effectively find my way through the city in which I currently live where the streets literally have no name. Helpless to try to explain to my parents why I thought it would be a good idea to eat armadillo offered to me by a family I had just met without considering the possibility that I would contract some less than friendly parasites (which, helplessly, I did). Helpless to avoid somehow always managing to step on the nearest scorpion in my vicinity, who always obligingly stings my toes. Helpless to utilize the LSAC website with my shoddy and earthquake inhibited Nicaraguan internet connection. Helpless to navigate the routine day-to-day mundane existence that I once took for granted without regularly relying on the kindness of complete strangers, which luckily is abundant here. If you can't tell: I've felt helpless a lot recently.

Having said that, I also don’t think I’ve ever felt better…well, aside from that whole parasite process. As corny as it sounds, I’d like to leave this earth with the knowledge that I did something good. Not just that I did well, but that I did good. Helping others, I’ve learned —probably as the result of constant parental and grandparental moralizing—is apparently the best way to go about doing that. Sadly, I don’t think that all of the doors I held open, half-week service opportunities I partook in, and coaching gigs I accepted ever had too much of a lasting impact. Beneficial in some way? Sure. Long-term positive effect? Debatable. That fact is what brought me here to Managua for the next twelve months and gave me the courage to give up all I knew/know to take the chance to actively help people instead of only assisting them. It was the best eyes-closed, fingers-crossed plunge I have ever taken. Because of that choice, I have had the opportunity to teach English classes to people in the community where I live and see what they have learned from our group translate directly into new jobs that raise their families’ standards of living. To help allocate micro-finance loans that have so started six new businesses around us in just the past year. To use a grant awarded from Wal-Mart to start a women’s jewelry cooperative for women who formerly scavenged for trash as a living. These people and the work we do with them are anything but helpless. Yet still, sometimes that feeling prevails. I feel like a sail with a hole in it. No matter how much moving in the right direction you do, sometimes that spot where you’re lacking can leave you pretty deflated.

I can pinpoint that hole in my sail, the exact moment in which I felt the most helpless. And it is also the exact same moment that affirmed my decision to go to law school and pursue a legal career.

My organization has a child sponsorship program from that provides food, vitamins, and health services to those in need. I’m guessing you’re not familiar with the area where we work. La Chureca is the largest dump in Central America and is home to hundreds if not thousands of the most impoverished Nicaraguans in the country, which is the second poorest in the western hemisphere. It is not a nice place. The days when supplies are distributed we also sit down with the families—read child(ren) and mother since stable father figures are like unicorns in this community—and have conversations about life. Basically checking to see if there is any other way in which we could be providing them with assistance. During one such "consulta," I asked a mother why her son seemed so sleepy. I expected to hear a benign answer. Maybe that he had been sick recently or that perhaps a flood had made the conditions of their home difficult to sleep in. This girl—a word choice that I cannot stress enough as she is younger than I am—subsequently proceeded to explain to me why her eight year old son couldn't get enough sleep. Because his father came back to their one room house nightly to rape his mother and would routinely beat him if he tried to intervene. Then, almost as an aside, she explained to me that her "husband" was HIV positive and that she feared that she too had been infected as the result of his choice in nocturnal activities. As I picked my jaw up off of the floor, I had the most horrifying realization of my life: I couldn't do anything to help her. La Chureca is owned by Spain as the result of some odd developmental agreement. As a result of this, the Nicaraguan police basically only come in to provide security for foreign aid agencies and slum tourists. La Chureca is, in effect, a place without law. A place completely outside of a legal system that can effectively protect its inhabitants. And my organization is small. Very small. And very American. As much good as we are able to do, we are stymied from the get go just because of the nature of what and who we are when it comes to structural deficits such as these. I was completely and utterly helpless to do the job that I had come to do in bettering this woman and her child's lives. All I had the power to do was express my condolences and refer her to some third-party Nicaraguan sources that might be able to help.

Her situation has not changed. Aside from the becoming the Batman of La Chureca, I took the only course of action that was available to me. The only feeling I could liken it to would be being a doctor and having a patient with some terrible malady come into your office with expectations of being cured, then inspecting them, slapping on a band-aid, and telling them, "You should really see someone about that."

That was when I knew. Knew that although my hands may be tied in this specific case, I would ensure that they would not be again. Knew that law in my home country is the antithesis of helplessness, and that the best way to never be helpless to help in a situation like that again was to pursue a career in that great equalizing force. Our laws give voice to those that can't find their own, defend the undefended and indefensible, and dole out justice with equity. And as much of an eye-roll as a sentence like that may garner, having seen what I have seen I honestly believe it. The fact that we are not a nation of men, like some others that I have recently become acquainted with, but a nation of laws now actually holds meaning to me. And I want to be a part of that meaning.


Warmer? Colder? Bueller?
Last edited by smustang on Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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smustang
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:22 pm

Re: Any and all thoughts/feedback welcome

Postby smustang » Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:15 pm

bump




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