First Draft. any help would be appreciated!

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pecchiord1
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:55 am

First Draft. any help would be appreciated!

Postby pecchiord1 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:55 pm

Ok, this is a first draft. I've XXXed the name of my non-profit organization for privacy purposes. Any feedback would be great! Thanks!

Look both ways before you cross the street. Don’t take rides from strangers. And whatever you do, do not linger on Kinsman Avenue after sundown. These three warnings constitute the code of conduct instilled in every child raised in the city of Cleveland, Ohio.

A product of the suburbs, it was not until I began coaching youth basketball that I learned of Kinsman Avenue. Every weekend, it seemed, one of my players came to a practice or a game mourning the loss of a friend or a family member victimized by late night activities on Kinsman. Due to these stories, I learned to navigate around Kinsman when I drove through the city to drop off the members of my team whose families were without access to transportation. Perennially jovial, they would chide me about my cautionary path, saying that I needed to “juice-up” my Dodge sedan. Unperturbed, however, I maintained my route, unapologetically set on keeping these boys away from Kinsman by any means necessary.

I loved being a coach. Ever since my first sports philanthropy trip to the Dominican Republic, I had dreamed of starting my own organization that would use sports to reach underprivileged youth. After completing college, the opportunity to accomplish this dream finally presented itself in the form of starting my own charitable non-profit, XXX XXX, an organization that uses athletics to counteract youth violence and promote educational success to young people. For the most part, directing XXX XXXX seemed to be the logical outcome achieved by my educational and professional background. My experiences in the Dominican Republic enabled me to extend my programming internationally and bilingually. Time spent as a mentor for a troubled young man in my area had sensitized me to the issues confronting youth. Through a rigorous liberal arts education, I had developed proper writing and speaking skills, making it possible for me to secure support and request funding. Altogether, XXX XXXX employed my ambition and abilities, making me very comfortable in my position on the vocational timeline.

Just as I was settling into this lifestyle, however, my organization received a request to conduct a weeklong basketball camp at the local Juvenile Justice Center for 21 young boys. Our camps usually consisted of hour-long sessions of basketball instruction followed by leadership and life skills workshops hosted by our camp staff.

I have always considered myself a “cool” academic, able to present research to senior-level officials of an organization and later play in a basketball game with members of the maintenance staff. As I walked into the JJC classroom, however, and saw those 21 young men in blue prison uniforms, I knew that no amount of social intelligence would make reaching these boys an easy task.

My first interaction with the inmates was awkward and uncomfortable. I had difficulty finding the right words to say, unsure of how exactly to communicate with people in their situation. Once the first basketball session began, however, I realized that these young men were just like any of the other many campers that had attended one of our sessions. They had just made some poor choices in their lives that had led them into those blue uniforms.

On the final day of programming, I sat down across the lunch table from Woody, a boy of 16 who had served most of his youth in detention. Our topic for the day was achieving one’s potential, so I asked Woody what he wanted to do when he “grew up.” Woody sat silent for a second and returned the question to me. I told him that I was doing it. I will always remember how Woody responded:

“I appreciate what you guys are doing, coming here and showing us you care. But, I have an appointment with the judge tomorrow, and basketball skills won’t help me in the courtroom.”
I thought about Woody’s words that whole day. Later, as I left the detention complex, I noticed the amount of young men, fully shackled, being led down the hallway accompanied by a man or woman in a suit, whom I assumed were their attorneys.

Looking back on my career path up to this point, I cannot help but draw a parallel to those long drives home to avoid Kinsman Avenue. In college, I participated in countless volunteer opportunities, striving for some vague idealistic nirvana. All this activity was the same as driving around Kinsman Avenue, going the extra mile to stay safe and be praised by others. But I had never considered that there are people who cannot avoid Kinsman, held prisoner by their situation or their poor decisions.
:D
For this reason, I have decided that law school is the next necessary step in my life journey. I am very interested in the University of _______ because of their excellent Juvenile Law Program. As a Legal Studies minor in college, I always considered that a legal education would be in my future, but I lacked a sense of urgency to get there. Thankfully, XXX XXXX and my experiences working with young people in the Juvenile Justice System have given me that gift of motivation. My education and professional experiences have all led me here to this application, taking that first step out of the car, ready to help whoever finds himself stranded on Kinsman Avenue.

PhoenixWright
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2012 1:56 pm

Re: First Draft. any help would be appreciated!

Postby PhoenixWright » Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:29 pm

I feel that this is actually a really strong first draft! You tie together your qualifications, why you want to go to law school, and what you want to do after you graduate, all within a narrative structure that comes full circle to reference the beginning of the essay.

A few notes of where things can be improved or tightened up:
In the 1st ¶, you say every child in the "city of Cleveland" knows about Kinsman, but then you go on to say in the 2nd ¶ that you hadn't known. I assume, then, that every child from the inner city knows, but not necessarily those raised in the suburbs. Maybe that contrast could be made more clear.

"the logical outcome achieved by my educational and professional background". Did your background actually achieve it, or would another verb or sentence structure sound better here?

You noticed a number of young men, rather than an amount. Also, I think the possessive of a university should be an "its", not a "their", in the final paragraph, but I am not entirely sure.

I am wondering if the narrative structure can be rearranged a little more organized temporally. For example, we learn you went to college and got a rigorous liberal arts education in ¶3, that you volunteered for vague idealism in ¶9, and that you minored in Legal Studies and always thought you'd have a legal education in ¶10. (Actually, did you always think that? That seems to contradict what you told Woody at first). It feels like I am getting little glimpses of your college experience but that other parts are being hidden until later, so that at the very end, "Oh! He/she is a legal studies minor! In that case, law sounds great for him/her!" but then wondering why it wasn't mentioned until the very end, since it is a distinguishing factor between you and other socially conscious volunteers.

On the other hand, I felt it was sufficiently strong as is that I am wary of telling you to rearrange, and then have it turn out weaker. Truly, I felt like this was a strong essay already on the first draft. Good luck!

pecchiord1
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:55 am

Re: First Draft. any help would be appreciated!

Postby pecchiord1 » Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:29 pm

Wow! I really appreciate you taking the time to look this over and give these pointers! Really appreciate it Phoenix!

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Br3v
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Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:18 pm

Re: First Draft. any help would be appreciated!

Postby Br3v » Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:18 pm

Perennially jovial, they would chide me about my cautionary path, saying that I needed to “juice-up” my Dodge sedan. Unperturbed, however, I maintained my route, unapologetically set on

For me I found this segment to maybe have to many big words. This may be very well how you talk, but I found it to almost be like you attempting to show you were smart and could use big words! (regardless if that is the truth)

Also, can you reword the first paragraph so that the one sentence does not start with "and"?

I liked the topic of the story. Good first draft

pecchiord1
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:55 am

Re: First Draft. any help would be appreciated!

Postby pecchiord1 » Sun Oct 21, 2012 5:31 pm

Br3v wrote:
Perennially jovial, they would chide me about my cautionary path, saying that I needed to “juice-up” my Dodge sedan. Unperturbed, however, I maintained my route, unapologetically set on

For me I found this segment to maybe have to many big words. This may be very well how you talk, but I found it to almost be like you attempting to show you were smart and could use big words! (regardless if that is the truth)

Also, can you reword the first paragraph so that the one sentence does not start with "and"?

I liked the topic of the story. Good first draft



Thanks for the tips! I couldn't agree more. I have no idea why i thought that sentence had good flow and i think combining those words DOES sound like I'm trying to sound smart. Appreciate it Br3v

NightmanCometh
Posts: 100
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:03 pm

Re: First Draft. any help would be appreciated!

Postby NightmanCometh » Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:07 pm

I've been reading a lot of these, and I think this one is great! It has all the right elements of a persuasive and engaging essay. At times it straddles the line of being corny, but your strong writing pushes it back to safety. (That's a compliment- it's hard to do!)

2nd paragraph:
-I think 1st sentence should be changed to "A product of the suburbs, I only first learned of Kinsman Avenue when I began coaching youth basketball." (clause modifier nitpick)
-2nd to last sentence with the "juicing up": I don't really understand it- they are saying you shouldn't avoid Kinsman? Make this more clear to people who won't understand the slang.

7th paragraph: "on the final day of the program"? (not programming?)

Conclusion: I think this is the weak spot of your essay that you can improve. You say that in college you strove for "some vague idealistic nirvana", yet your final points seem pretty vague and pretty idealistic as they are stated. You don't give any concrete plans on what you will do with your law degree, rather than "help the kids" and using the Kinsman metaphor. If I were you, I would either scrap the "I used to be vague and idealistic but now I am not", or put in some more concrete ideas of what you plan on doing with your law degree.

Hope that helps!

pecchiord1
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:55 am

Re: First Draft. any help would be appreciated!

Postby pecchiord1 » Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:44 am

Thanks Nightman!




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