Final Draft of PS??

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
zanardin
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:13 pm

Final Draft of PS??

Postby zanardin » Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:33 pm

Okay, I think I am almost done with this...I just don't know if this is a good statement as far as telling a school what I will contribute to their student body...any editing and/or advice about this would be great. thanks so much


I did not realize I was different until I was 22. Literally overnight, I went from being normal to caught in the reality outside of my bubble. Suddenly, I was acutely aware of the color of my skin, the clothes I wore, and how I spoke. Every time I walked down the street it was as if I followed a few feet behind my body, witnessing my presence and how other people reacted to it. For the first time, I was uncomfortable with myself. Learning how to live and work outside of my bubble helped me understand myself and those around me, work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds, and develop a concrete sense of how I can best give myself to others.

When I committed to a year of post-graduate service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, I had no idea what I was getting into. I had always been compelled to service, but in high school and college I helped others on my own terms from within my protected bubble. I only saw the surface of the communities I reached out to. As a Jesuit Volunteer, that all changed. My seven roommates and I lived in an old convent in the almost exclusively African American neighborhood of Central Harlem. I worked in rent-stabilized apartment buildings throughout neighborhoods of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. And I was the different one. Everything I did, from waiting for the bus to working out at the local YMCA, caused people to stare and call me names. Every day, I felt like an intruder in peoples’ lives. Starting work as a tenant organizer was particularly difficult. I had no experience, and I was immersed way over my head in an alien environment suffering from distress I had never seen. I moved forward as if I were still inside my bubble. I did my research, made brochures, and went out to tell tenants why and how they should organize a tenant association. But my words were aimless. I had created invisible boundaries around the tenants, and I was afraid to cross. This prevented me from really knowing their lives and being receptive to their ideas. But the tenants at 2425 Nostrand Avenue in Flatbush Brooklyn, a building primarily occupied by first generation Trinidadian-Americans, did not let me sustain those boundaries.

The first meeting I held there was the second tenant meeting I had ever led. “Look!” one tenant shouted after I had delivered my introduction. “I was the president of the old tenant association, we’ve already tried it. Why should we even listen to you?” I was sure that every person in the crowded lobby could feel the sensation of sweat accumulating on the inside of my shirt. “Okay,” I stammered. “It sounds like you all aren’t interested in organizing another tenant association.” After mumbling something about my contact information, I rushed out of the building. I had never been so blatantly called out by anyone, about anything. And I had no idea what I was doing. I thought I would be able to forget about the tenants on Nostrand Avenue. But soon they started to call. Marie Rezeau called me twice per day. She told me that I had promised to help them, and asked me to meet with her. At her kitchen table, she told me that tenants wanted to file a Housing Part petition against their landlord for failure to meet conditions requirements, but they needed assistance. I did not know anything about housing court, but Marie’s pleading eyes pulled me in. The decision to go back challenged me to let go of myself and my anxiety and presumptions to offer my empathy, skills, and energy to the tenants’ effort.

Working with the tenants of 2425 Nostrand Avenue was physically and emotionally exhausting. I traveled almost two hours to the building countless times. I spent evenings knocking on apartment doors to collect intake forms and I spent hours talking with tenant leaders. I sat with a crying mother in her mold-infested apartment and listened to intimidating voicemails from the landlord on tenants’ phones. Interacting with these tenants and those throughout New York City neighborhoods that most people never see, and I experienced suffering and injustice in the most raw and personal way. At the same time, I learned to listen, teach, and collaborate. As I grew more invested in the lives of the tenants, I overcame my fear of being different. I broke down the barriers I had constructed and built effective relationships with those around me. The tenants pulled me away from the narrow lens through which I viewed the world, and I developed an understanding of my role in others’ lives from within the communities I came to love.

When I was a senior in college, I did not want to be a lawyer. I wanted to do something meaningful for other people. But I did not really know what I meant by that. The year I spent as a Jesuit Volunteer was a defining one because it helped me make sense of my passion for helping others. I embraced unfamiliarity and invested the time to appreciate peoples’ obstacles and potential separate from my own opinions and ego. I helped people succeed on their own terms, and it was the most powerful and fulfilling work I have ever done. As a tenant organizer, I was able to help tenants create awareness and long-term strategies. But I was frustrated with my inability to help them achieve specific results and tangible control. Working through housing court, I learned how the law is a powerful tool for those who are otherwise disadvantaged to get those results and control. I worked with exhausted attorneys who fought seemingly impossible battles. But I also helped them to exert legal pressure on landlords to make real change, like repairing a boiler that allowed tenants to take warm showers and cook meals. My ability to help people protect their rights and exert authority over their lives will be worth the hard work. I now know that I want to study law because it will allow me to pursue a career in which I can use my education, experience, and skills to be an agent of positive change in individual lives and communities. By practicing law I will be able to naturally and effectively contribute to the development of the common good and the movement towards a more just and sustainable society.

Quiet Batperson
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Oct 28, 2013 7:35 pm

Re: Final Draft of PS??

Postby Quiet Batperson » Mon Oct 28, 2013 10:16 pm

I like this. The start is a little ambiguous and a touch long, but you establish the theme pretty quickly and build on it with a clear narrative, telling detail and, most importantly, humanity. It’s clear you put a lot of work into this. There are very few grammar or syntax errors. I would try to make the first paragraph punchier by getting rid of some of the redundant explication of how out of place you felt. My comments are set off with // marks. Hope this helps.
I did not realize I was different until I was 22. Literally overnight //Literally overnight, or figuratively? Sorry, it’s a pet peeve.//, I went from being normal to caught in the reality outside of my bubble. Suddenly, I was acutely aware of the color of my skin, the clothes I wore, and how I spoke. Every time I walked down the street it was as if I followed a few feet behind my body, witnessing my presence and how other people reacted to it. For the first time, I was uncomfortable with myself. Learning how to live and work outside of my bubble helped me understand myself and those around me, work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds, and develop a concrete sense of how I can best give myself to others.
//This first paragraph is a good start, but I kind of feel like the reader’s being jammed abruptly into your story. I don’t know what it’s about until the second paragraph. Maybe find a better way to at least tease where you’re headed by the end of the third sentence?//

When I committed to a year of post-graduate service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, I had no idea what I was getting into. I had always been compelled to service, but in high school and college I helped others on my own terms from within my protected bubble. I only saw the surface of the communities I reached out to. As a Jesuit Volunteer, that all changed. My seven roommates and I lived in an old convent in the almost exclusively African American neighborhood of Central Harlem. I worked in rent-stabilized apartment buildings throughout neighborhoods of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. And I was the different one. //At this point, I’m guessing that you’re white, but it’s not clear; for all the reader knows you could be Asian, Latino, or Miscellaneous. If you’re going to write an essay about how out-of-place you were racially, at least be boldly specific. In almost any other context it’d be socially awkward, but I think here it’s OK.// Everything I did, from waiting for the bus to working out at the local YMCA, caused people to stare and call me names. Every day, I felt like an intruder in peoples’ lives. Starting work as a tenant organizer was particularly difficult. I had no experience, and I was immersed way over my head in an alien environment suffering from distress I had never seen. I moved forward as if I were still inside my bubble. I did my research, made brochures, and went out to tell tenants why and how they should organize a tenant association. But my words were aimless. I had created invisible boundaries around the tenants, and I was afraid to cross. This prevented me from really knowing their lives and being receptive to their ideas. But the tenants at 2425 Nostrand Avenue in Flatbush Brooklyn, a building primarily occupied by first generation Trinidadian-Americans, did not let me sustain those boundaries.

The first meeting I held there was the second tenant meeting I had ever led. “Look!” one tenant shouted after I had delivered my introduction. “I was the president of the old tenant association, we’ve already tried it. Why should we even listen to you?” I was sure that every person in the crowded lobby could feel the sensation of sweat accumulating on the inside of my shirt. “Okay,” I stammered. “It sounds like you all aren’t interested in organizing another tenant association.” After mumbling something about my contact information, I rushed out of the building. I had never been so blatantly called out by anyone, about anything. And I had no idea what I was doing. I thought I would be able to forget about the tenants on Nostrand Avenue. But soon they started to call. Marie Rezeau //I think you’d be OK just referring to her by her first name.// called me twice per day. She told me that I had promised to help them and asked me to meet with her. At her kitchen table, she told me that tenants wanted to file a Housing Part petition against their landlord for failure to meet conditions requirements, but they needed assistance. I did not know anything about housing court, but Marie’s pleading eyes pulled me in. The decision to go back challenged me to let go of myself and my anxiety and presumptions to offer my empathy, skills, and energy to the tenants’ effort.

Working with the tenants of 2425 Nostrand Avenue was physically and emotionally exhausting. I traveled almost two hours to the building countless times. I spent evenings knocking on apartment doors to collect intake forms and I spent hours talking with tenant leaders. I sat with a crying mother in her mold-infested apartment and listened to intimidating voicemails from the landlord on tenants’ phones. Interacting with these tenants and those throughout New York City neighborhoods that most people never see, and I experienced suffering and injustice in the most raw and personal way. At the same time, I learned to listen, teach, and collaborate. As I grew more invested in the lives of the tenants, I overcame my fear of being different. I broke down the barriers I had constructed and built effective relationships with those around me. The tenants pulled me away from the narrow lens through which I viewed the world, and I developed an understanding of my role in others’ lives from within the communities I came to love.

When I was a senior in college, I did not want to be a lawyer. I wanted to do something meaningful for other people. But I did not really know what I meant by that. The year I spent as a Jesuit Volunteer was a defining one because it helped me make sense of my passion for helping others. I embraced unfamiliarity and invested the time to appreciate peoples’ obstacles and potential separate from my own opinions and ego. I helped people succeed on their own terms, and it was the most powerful and fulfilling work I have ever done. As a tenant organizer, I was able to help tenants create awareness and long-term strategies. But I was frustrated with my inability to help them achieve specific results and tangible control. Working through housing court, I learned how the law is a powerful tool for those who are otherwise disadvantaged to get those results and control. I worked with exhausted attorneys who fought seemingly impossible battles. I also helped them to exert legal pressure on landlords to make real change, like repairing a boiler that allowed tenants to take warm showers and cook meals. My ability to help people protect their rights and exert authority over their lives will be worth the hard work. I now know that I want to study law because it will allow me to pursue a career in which I can use my education, experience, and skills to be an agent of positive change in individual lives and communities. By practicing law I will be able to naturally and effectively contribute to the development of the common good and the movement towards a more just and sustainable society.

zanardin
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:13 pm

Re: Final Draft of PS??

Postby zanardin » Sat Nov 02, 2013 11:36 am

Thanks for your input and comments. Someone suggested that I state in the first paragraph that my year as a Jesuit Volunteer made me realize I want to study law. But I was trying to tell a story then tie it into law school at the end. Does anyone have an opinion on the better approach? Thanks!




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