edited: cleaned up some minor issues, rearranged a paragraph.
K...here goes. don't tear it apart too bad. I know it's hard to read here on TLS, PM me if you want a Word version. It's 3 pages double-spaced, and I have several shorter versions for the lame schools that have limits. haha.
Breathing deeply, I begin to push away the worries in my mind. As the steady rhythm of the powwow drum washes over me, I feel my rapidly beating heart begin to slow. I study the dancers as they work intricate footsteps to the beat of the music. Finally, I feel at peace.
I’ve been seeking all my life for a place to belong. I am the child of a full-blooded member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe from South Dakota—my father—who was adopted into a white family at an early age. I’ve always taken pride in being Native American, but I didn’t have any true cultural connections as a child. My mother tried her best, but being Caucasian, she could only teach me so much, and my father had spent many years ignoring his heritage in a quest to properly assimilate into “white” culture. Consequently he had no desire to teach me about his Indian heritage.
As a sheltered high-school student, flirting with mild rebellion within the safety of upper-middle class suburbia, I attended a six-week summer camp for Native students, designed to provide extra high school credits for graduation. Naively, I went with the goal to learn more about my heritage. Conversely, the other participants were attending just to get off “the rez” (reservation) for the summer, and enjoy free food and board while partying with other Native kids. It was there I learned the term “apple” and that, despite my mother’s insistence, I didn’t look as Native as I previously thought. I talked, acted and studied like a white person. To add further distance between my fellow students and me, I alone refrained from drinking, smoking and pre-marital sex. I was initially seen as a novelty by the boys, but that spurred the girls to gang up on me, so by the end of the summer, I was an outsider with few friends. I don’t regret a moment though, because that summer I put away my childish ideals of Native culture. Instead, I saw what life is really like for Native American youth today. I attended my first powwow, discovered the depths of Native spirituality, and learned how kids who grow up on the rez are impacted by the conditions they are born into.
In my early 20’s, I moved to the Nez Perce Reservation near Lewiston, Idaho, as part of my continuing effort to “find myself,” believing it would be easier accomplished through embracing the Native side of my birthright. It was there that I began to understand how depressing the rez’s reality of a stagnant day-to-day life is. I saw how things get done, or rather, are discussed endlessly but are never accomplished. I learned about the poor quality of education as I fought to help an incredibly bright young girl learn to enjoy education and ignore peer pressure to slack off instead. And I learned about the deep emotions felt by a number of Natives against the white man, often due to conflicts involving the law.
It was on the reservation that I began to realize my calling. Through my experience living there, I realized I would never truly be like most people born on the rez; I was too hungry for knowledge, and I was too educated. I wondered, why fight it any longer? Why keep trying to fit in and lower myself to their standards when I was blessed with intelligence and a good upbringing? After witnessing several preventable issues involving the law and tribal members close to me, I realized that I wanted to become a lawyer for my people.
I returned home at age 23, determined to take my education seriously this time. Working hard to graduate from community college quickly, I set my sights on obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Overcoming bad grades from the past—due to a lengthy battle with depression and anxiety, I found that having a career goal and proper medication has all but eradicated the debilitating side of my mental struggles. At this writing, I have a 3.678 GPA at my current school, with an Associate Degree GPA of 3.69. With a clear path and firm career choice as my goal, I work hard in school to learn with purpose.
In the last few years, attending powwows and embracing tribal culture has become part of our family activities as my father has gained employment with area tribes. Feeling free to embrace being Native, I crave the soothing rhythm of the powwow drum, the ritual of making fry bread, the taste of buffalo meat, and the open, familial nature of adult Natives.
Becoming the president of the Native American Heritage Association at BYU-Idaho this past semester has similarly been full of rewarding and enriching experiences. My strengths have been tested time and again, but my virtues of time management and hard work have stayed strong, and I continuously work as a role model and leader for those within my realm of influence. Teaching others about my culture has motivated me to learn more deeply as well. Being the president of a formerly inactive club has been difficult, but I’ve learned to cultivate my abilities, especially when working within Native communities.
Native life is a different culture, one both ancient and modern. Especially for lawyers, that difference is sharply pronounced. Even an isolated event of representing a Native defendant in court often requires a different approach and trust development than with people of other cultures. Many people have tried to dissuade me from choosing a specialty before attending law school, saying that that just getting through the first year will be a miracle. However, I disagree. I am not your average law student—I have a heritage to honor and represent. I am intelligent, and I have goals that I am determined to accomplish. I choose to not only get into and finish law school, but to practice Indian law and secure a better future for indigenous people. And just like my people need me, I need them.
The child within me hopes that I will finally be accepted as an asset into this culture I’ve inherited, and that I will be a resource to my people. But even more importantly, I want to improve conditions: to help the child growing up on the rez today develop a desire to learn amidst poverty and alcoholism; for the grandmother who fights daily to instill good morals in her descendants; and for the elders who do what they can to teach young people about their history. Just as dancers and drummers honor their heritage every time they step into the ring of a powwow, I also want honor my heritage by serving my people.
(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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...I hate doing these...but bump
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I like the idea, but it's too long. See if you can get it down to 2 pages.
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