Personal Statement Rough Draft - Harsh critiques welcome!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Anonymous User
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Personal Statement Rough Draft - Harsh critiques welcome!

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 13, 2013 11:11 pm

I had read enough Dickens in middle school to conclude that lawyers were a bad lot. Great Expectations alone testified to the profession's inhumanity, with the imposing Jaggers and his simpering clerk Wemmick constantly shaking down their firm's pitiable clients. No, I actually liked people, and I had no interest in the coercion and manipulation of them I associated with the law. A XXXXX immigrant and small-town physician, my father always reminded me of my duty to serve and love others. Weekly my parents sent me and my other siblings to visit residents in the local nursing homes or stop with my father on sick-calls. “Mankind,” to quote Dickens' Marley, “was my business.”

Studying Literature - Latin, Greek, Middle-English, and Anglo-Saxon – in college, I felt myself fulfilling this need to love and study mankind. That is, my interest in books was always an interest in the human condition, and studying languages allowed me to witness that condition through diverse lenses. Thus, in Vergil's beautiful hexameter, I wondered at lacrimae rerum – the tears of things afflicting humanity. Reading Sallust, I railed against prava ambitio – the depraved ambition that undermined the Roman Republic. Plato's Greek, Chaucer's Middle-English, and the anonymous Anglo-Saxon poets offered me fresh horizons for investigation, and it was in Socratic seminars on such texts that I felt happiest. Not surprisingly, then, I took a job in an innovative public charter school with a liberal arts curriculum and a dedication to Socratic teaching. However, as it turned out, the very Socratic seminars that drew me to the school played the primary role in transforming my conception of both law and lawyers.

In my twelfth-grade Humanities class, I encouraged the seniors to question their assumptions - first their assumptions about a given text and then their assumptions about their world. However, it was discussing Aristotle and then Aquinas with these seniors that initially undercut my own assumptions about the law. The first reading was Book 7 of The Politics, and the students were analyzing the role of law in a good regime. Unfortunately, my students were stuck seeing law as merely punishing and inhibiting action. Slowly, they began to realize that, for Aristotle, Law was chiefly positive; it helped men attain virtue – or, more literally from the Greek arete: excellence. It provided the conditions and assistance for human flourishing. At that moment, the thought struck me: I was encouraging them toward a view opposite my own; Aristotle had unsettled my perception of law as mere restriction.

That evening, I began prepping a lesson on Book 8's analysis of education, but I kept coming back to what I had thought earlier. I decided my conception of law was certainly provincial and also, perhaps, wrong. Reading Book 8, in fact, I concluded that education and law shared a common end. This idea so interested me that, later in the semester, I assigned the seniors Aquinas' questions on law. Discussing these, I thought through the way laws shaped my own life - the immigration laws that allowed my father an path to citizenship or the XXXXX charter school laws that allowed our Socratic school to exist. I began reading about current legal issues, especially intrigued by the immigration and bioethics debates. Often in that semester my mind returned to the first Platonic Dialogue I read in Greek – The Crito – in which the Laws of Athens appear to Socrates and ask, “Did we not bring you into existence?”

Although law had aroused my interest, it was later, teaching eighth grade, that I began to see the practice of law as fulfilling my desire to benefit mankind. I had read To Kill a Mockingbird before, but my students' innocence and innate sense of justice opened my eyes to the beauty of Atticus Finch's' sacrifice. In our seminars I began to see attorneys as men who were, to quote Miss Maudi “ born to do our unpleasant jobs for us.” Theirs' was a vocation perfectly in harmony with the principles of love and service I had been taught.

Though my interests were kindled in books, I do not lionize the legal profession. I recognize that law involves as much sacrifice as teaching – more perhaps, since teachers receive frequent approbation for their service while lawyers are just as frequently reviled. Still, I think the law is a career for which my liberal studies and years of teaching have suited me. More importantly, I now believe that a career as an attorney is the best way for me to do something about what I have seen in books - the prava ambitio and lacrimae rerum. - the best way for me to make “mankind my business.”


I appreciate any advice you all can give!

Also, italics have disappeared, but they are in the original to identify the names of texts.

mmbt123
Posts: 94
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2012 12:47 am

Re: Personal Statement Rough Draft - Harsh critiques welcome!

Postby mmbt123 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:35 pm

I had read enough Dickens in middle school to conclude that lawyers were a bad lot. Great Expectations alone testified to the profession's inhumanity, with the imposing Jaggers and his simpering clerk Wemmick constantly shaking down their firm's pitiable clients. No, I actually liked people, and I had no interest in the coercion and manipulation of them I associated with the law. A XXXXX immigrant and small-town physician, my father always reminded me of my duty to serve and love others. Weekly my parents sent me and my other siblings to visit residents in the local nursing homes or stop with my father on sick-calls. “Mankind,” to quote Dickens' Marley, “was my business.”

Studying Literature - Latin, Greek, Middle-English, and Anglo-Saxon – in college, I felt myself fulfilling this need to love and study mankind. That is, my interest in books was always an interest in the human condition, and studying languages allowed me to witness that condition through diverse lenses. Thus, in Vergil's beautiful hexameter, I wondered at lacrimae rerum – the tears of things afflicting humanity. Reading Sallust, I railed against prava ambitio – the depraved ambition that undermined the Roman Republic. Plato's Greek, Chaucer's Middle-English, and the anonymous Anglo-Saxon poets offered me fresh horizons for investigation, and it was in Socratic seminars on such texts that I felt happiest. Not surprisingly, then, I took a job in an innovative public charter school with a liberal arts curriculum and a dedication to Socratic teaching. However, as it turned out, the very Socratic seminars that drew me to the school played the primary role in transforming my conception of both law and lawyers.

In my twelfth-grade Humanities class, I encouraged the seniors to question their assumptions - first their assumptions about a given text and then their assumptions about their world. However, it was discussing Aristotle and then Aquinas with these seniors that initially undercut my own assumptions about the law. The first reading was Book 7 of The Politics, and the students were analyzing the role of law in a good regime. Unfortunately, my students were stuck seeing law as merely punishing and inhibiting action. Slowly, they began to realize that, for Aristotle, Law was chiefly positive; it helped men attain virtue – or, more literally from the Greek arete: excellence. It provided the conditions and assistance for human flourishing. At that moment, the thought struck me: I was encouraging them toward a view opposite my own; Aristotle had unsettled my perception of law as mere restriction.

That evening, I began prepping a lesson on Book 8's analysis of education, but I kept coming back to what I had thought earlier. I decided my conception of law was certainly provincial and also, perhaps, wrong. Reading Book 8, in fact, I concluded that education and law shared a common end. This idea so interested me that, later in the semester, I assigned the seniors Aquinas' questions on law. Discussing these, I thought through the way laws shaped my own life - the immigration laws that allowed my father an path to citizenship or the XXXXX charter school laws that allowed our Socratic school to exist. I began reading about current legal issues, especially intrigued by the immigration and bioethics debates. Often in that semester my mind returned to the first Platonic Dialogue I read in Greek – The Crito – in which the Laws of Athens appear to Socrates and ask, “Did we not bring you into existence?”

Although law had aroused my interest, it was later, teaching eighth grade, that I began to see the practice of law as fulfilling my desire to benefit mankind. I had read To Kill a Mockingbird before, but my students' innocence and innate sense of justice opened my eyes to the beauty of Atticus Finch's' sacrifice. In our seminars I began to see attorneys as men who were, to quote Miss Maudi “ born to do our unpleasant jobs for us.” Theirs' was a vocation perfectly in harmony with the principles of love and service I had been taught.

Though my interests were kindled in books, I do not lionize the legal profession. I recognize that law involves as much sacrifice as teaching – more perhaps, since teachers receive frequent approbation for their service while lawyers are just as frequently reviled. Still, I think the law is a career for which my liberal studies and years of teaching have suited me. More importantly, I now believe that a career as an attorney is the best way for me to do something about what I have seen in books - the prava ambitio and lacrimae rerum. - the best way for me to make “mankind my business.”

I don't know that you want to start off a paragraph with how bad you thought the legal profession was. Your two paragraphs on going through The Politics w/ your students is far more interesting and perhaps you could rewrite a personal statement centered around that journey. In the process, you could try to incorporate more about your upbringing which as it is written here just seem like throwaway references. Good luck! I think you write well and could write a really god PS based on your teaching experiences after putting in some more thought into those experiences.




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