Final product?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
otisthedog
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:37 pm

Final product?

Postby otisthedog » Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:21 pm

I'd love to hear what a few of you think--don't be afraid to lay into it.

After four years of stuffy dorms and lecture halls, I could not bear the thought of heading straight for another desk, another air conditioned building, and another stack of papers. I longed for fresh air, and physical work; I sought the opportunity to live what my hero, and fellow outdoors enthusiast, Theodore Roosevelt, referred to as the “strenuous life”: a term coined in a speech arguing that success in overcoming hardships through strenuous effort, labor and toil, are essential to individual and collective American excellence. For nearly a year, I worked on an oyster farm in Matunuck, Rhode Island. The experience transformed me, much less by the virtue of my own labor than by that of the men with whom I worked—foreign workers from Latin America. My decision to pursue law has been greatly informed by standing in their shoes, and learning from their journeys.

My first twelve-hour day on the oyster farm forced me to confront lives and labor that I had for my entire life taken for granted, as I found myself the sole gringo on a crew of Mexican and Guatemalan migrant workers. My enthusiasm for the life outdoors immediately waned as I shrunk at the otherness of my surroundings: foreign faces, an unknown language, and a herculean task. Oyster farming, it turned out, was dirty, backbreaking labor. As el chico nuevo, “new guy,” I was relegated to the thankless labor at the bottom of the hierarchy, where I struggled to keep up with the effortlessly blistering pace of my superiors. The mystique of manual work and open ocean had been replaced by the pains of an aching back and shredded hands. I could no longer ignore the Latino laborer as a mere fact of life; their presence no longer symbolized the convenience of my suburban American existence. This existence was as unforgiving as it was alienating.

Fall quickly turned to winter, and around our frozen, isolated dock, we worked in frigid chest-high waters, which spilled into our waders with the thirty-degree gusts. I longed for the cushy 9-5 I had spurned at graduation, with its promises of a soft leather chair and bottomless hot coffee. Yet I had also begun to learn our trade, as well as a bit of Spanish, while forging a close bond with my coworkers. Constant conversation served as a way to keep our minds off the conditions. Jeffe, José, and Pancho spoke of their families at home, and told of the dangers of travelling through Latin America. To an outsider, this work was torture; for my coworkers, the hour-long commute each day was the way out of the poverty of the slums of Guatemala City and rural Mexico. My petty discomforts were trivial, mere “facts of life,” to men who weather societal and economic forces far stronger than the winds on that pond. I managed to stick out winter on the farm because it was the standard set by my coworkers, for whom quitting is not an option.

If I did live the strenuous life on the oyster farm, it was by imitating a group who live it every day, far beyond the romantic Rooseveltian ideal I had imagined. Ironically, I learned that essence of American success, how to labor through adversity, from the perspective of an America that goes largely unnoticed and unappreciated, by the likes of myself. That America exists at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder, where the nameless perform the thankless. Yet it is impossible to be complacent after working alongside those who seize opportunity in this country to the limits of their existence, and it is with that humility, ardor and perspective that I have chosen to pursue a law degree. I hope to work to cultivate an immigration policy whose axiom is not restriction, but incentive. The foreign worker’s successes in overcoming immense hardships should be seen as the raw material for a greater American society, and one I wish to work toward through my engagement with the law.

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Jsa725
Posts: 2003
Joined: Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:20 pm

Re: Final product?

Postby Jsa725 » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:00 pm

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Last edited by Jsa725 on Sun Jul 06, 2014 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

otisthedog
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:37 pm

Re: Final product?

Postby otisthedog » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:05 pm

Thanks for your input JSA.

BeenDidThat
Posts: 704
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:18 am

Re: Final product?

Postby BeenDidThat » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:06 pm

It's a good story. It just needs a smoother transition to what your experience has to do with law school, and you need to flesh out that connection.

otisthedog
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:37 pm

Re: Final product?

Postby otisthedog » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:11 pm

My only trouble was in trying to make that connection concisely, since I was worried about sacrificing details/I didn't want to overdo the two page limit.

Thanks guys/gals.

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bdeebs
Posts: 133
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:54 pm

Re: Final product?

Postby bdeebs » Sun Nov 25, 2012 7:01 pm

I would consider finding a way to avoid using the phrase "I longed" twice.

Edit: Or perhaps start the second with a "Now I longed" if you're intentionally referencing the first time you said it.




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