PS first draft critique

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
cwhipp12
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2012 1:58 pm

PS first draft critique

Postby cwhipp12 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:39 pm

Long time lurker, first time poster. Please help! :D

Her clear brown eyes welled with tears, and I saw her struggle to maintain her composure as I repeated the question. “Can you tell me what happened on March 6th, 2007?” Through hiccupped sobs and broken speech Mariana recounted the harrowing story of one of the most pivotal days of her life.

An undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, Mariana worked in the Michael Bianco factory located in New Bedford, one of the many rundown former mill towns which dot the New England landscape. This particular factory was licensed by the United States government to produce parachutes and backpacks for the United States military, and Mariana would often work tirelessly for twelve hours at a time to produce these goods. Her stories of the treatment she endured as a worker were shocking and horrifying. She told of racist supervisors, who would call her “Illegal” instead of using her name. She told of timed one-minute bathroom breaks, and of the hour’s pay she was docked if she exceeded this minute. And she told of the scams her employers would use to avoid paying her overtime. Throughout these stories Mariana always spoke with a sense of pride--though she was debased and degraded by her supervisors and employers, she was proud to be able to work to support her daughter and provide her with a better life than was found in Guatemala.

This sense of pride disappeared whenever Mariana talked about March 6th. On this day, over 150 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided the Michael Bianco factory and detained over 300 undocumented immigrants. Though ICE had enacted raids like these before in towns and farms across the country, this was the first raid where those detained were primarily women, many of them mothers.

Mariana recalls the moment the agents came through the door of the factory; she tried to run but agents quickly detained her, screaming at her in a language she struggled to understand. The only words she could make out: “Screw the immigrants!” She was immediately taken to Houston, without a phone call to her family, or chance to explain herself. It would take two days after her detainment before she would be able to call a family member-- two days where her daughter was left wondering where in the world her mother was. While in detention she was never given a moment to herself; she was accompanied on every bathroom trip and shower by an ICE official. She spent her first week with no sense of her fate, and with no more opportunities to speak to her family. Through clenched teeth she told me of the anger she felt towards the agents who would mock the women in detention and make jokes about their situation.She also expressed immense fear at the prospect of never seeing her daughter again, or never being able to leave the detention compound.

After twelve days in Texas, Mariana was transferred back to Boston, where she remained in a prison for another two. It was not until this last day that Mariana was able to speak to her family, and tell them she was returning home. Since then, Mariana’s life has remained in limbo, and she fears that her case, which is due to go to court within the next year, will end with her returning to the poverty in Guatemala she left behind years ago. Her life is consumed by the events of this day, and she says the threat of deportation is always lingering in the back of her mind.

This story was told to me during interviews I conducted for my honors thesis in Anthropology titled, “Worry and Trauma: Experiencing Female “Illegality” in the Aftermath of the Michael Bianco Immigration Raid.” This topic, which began as an exploration into immigration policy and its effects on the socio-political construction of “legality,” resulted in my immersion into the lives of five women, all struggling to live as undocumented immigrants in a post-raid world.Their stories and their strength astounded me, and the injustices they and their children experienced saddened me deeply. My newfound education of the history of immigration policy, and how entrenched racism is in its construction caused me to rethink many of the values I was told the United States was founded, and I was angry at the one-sided implementation of these values.
Being able to give these women a voice through my writing was rewarding, and they were happy to have the opportunity to be heard--even though their audience was just three college professors. However gratifying the writing process was, I left the experience feeling as though my work was incomplete, and I was frustrated at my inability to actually do something to help. This is when the law school itch, which had come and gone throughout my college career, came again, stronger than ever. I wish to someday be able to help those like Mariana navigate the complicated and ambiguous world of “legality” and empower them to live outside of the shadow of “illegality.” I am confident a legal education will give me that opportunity.

ns2675
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:06 pm

Re: PS first draft critique

Postby ns2675 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:19 am

In my opinion, this is too focused on Mariana. The story is interesting, and you definitely make a concise and convincing case for your interest in law school at the end. However, by the third paragraph I'm starting to wonder when I'm going to hear about you. If I were in your shoes, I would probably limit Mariana's story to about a paragraph. I would take the remaining space to talk more about the project and my role in it.

brittanynicole_4
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:53 am

Re: PS first draft critique

Postby brittanynicole_4 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:26 am

In my opinion, this is too focused on Mariana. The story is interesting, and you definitely make a concise and convincing case for your interest in law school at the end. However, by the third paragraph I'm starting to wonder when I'm going to hear about you. If I were in your shoes, I would probably limit Mariana's story to about a paragraph. I would take the remaining space to talk more about the project and my role in it


I agree with the above post. I had the exact same reaction when reading it..."when am I going to learn about the author?" You do a great job of wrapping it up in the end, as also noted above. Though the story is interesting and keeps my attenion throughout, the personal statement needs to be more personal--about you.

The writing style overall is good. Your word choice and flow make it easy to read, it is obvious you are a good writer. I just feel you need to take some attention away from Mariana and focus it back on you.
I would appreciate it greatly if you would check out my most recent draft of my ps--you can look for it under my username: brittanynicole_4

blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 am

Re: PS first draft critique

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:27 pm

Agree with the comments so far -- we should know what your relationship to the situation is by somewhere in the second paragraph. I also didn't like the opening lines -- a bit too cliched and "writerly" and something about them made me think the whole thing was going in a different direction ("can you tell me what happened on x night" made me think you were working in some kind of legal or police capacity rather than doing a graduate thesis). In general I dislike forced dramatic/literary writing in essays ("clear brown eyes welled with tears" etc). I think you could benefit from going through line by line and asking yourself "what does this word add other than sounding fancy, does it need to be here?" That said, overall it's pretty well-written and the subject matter is good. Bringing yourself in earlier is by far the most important change, and the other stuff is just stylistic preferences.




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