Is this Diversity topic risky? (Revised)

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Anonymous User
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Is this Diversity topic risky? (Revised)

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:15 pm

Original draft deleted in favor of the one posted below.

This is the last thing standing between me and my applications, so your feedback is most appreciated!
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

lmr
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Re: Is this Diversity topic risky?

Postby lmr » Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:34 pm

Idk if others will agree but my personal opinion: I was with you until you went to Peru and compared it to the U.S. system and seemed to conclude that your earlier self was wrong. I think it's a little apologetic towards the end and maybe a little naive w your appreciation for our system compared to Peru. Focus it more on yourself-your upbringing, i was very interested up until it felt like you were being a little too safe and structured. I was more interested in what happened after your mother went to jail-who did you live with? What were the older kids who influenced you like? Impact it had on you? Idk i just think you have so many interesting things to work w that you don't need to talk about what a trip to Peru did for you. A bunch of upper middle class applicants are going to be doing that already.

Anonymous User
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Re: Is this Diversity topic risky?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:47 pm

lmr wrote:Idk if others will agree but my personal opinion: I was with you until you went to Peru and compared it to the U.S. system and seemed to conclude that your earlier self was wrong. I think it's a little apologetic towards the end and maybe a little naive w your appreciation for our system compared to Peru. Focus it more on yourself-your upbringing, i was very interested up until it felt like you were being a little too safe and structured. I was more interested in what happened after your mother went to jail-who did you live with? What were the older kids who influenced you like? Impact it had on you? Idk i just think you have so many interesting things to work w that you don't need to talk about what a trip to Peru did for you. A bunch of upper middle class applicants are going to be doing that already.



I covered what happened after my mom was arrested in my PS. (I posted it here if anybody cares to compare viewtopic.php?f=18&t=239893)

You bring up a good point about the whole "trip changed my life" portion. It just hit me how often I've seen those in personal statements. I guess I was trying to get across, not that my earlier self was wrong, but that it wasn't right either, and I've grown out of the "F the police" phase. Maybe talking about seeing my uncle's killer prosecuted and/or working for both a public defender's office and a district attorney's office is a better way of showing how my opinion changed. Now that I think of it, those experiences are probably much more unique. Thanks for the feedback.

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encore1101
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Re: Is this Diversity topic risky?

Postby encore1101 » Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a bit worried the second paragraph makes me come across as a thuggish malcontent.


I lived much of my life on the wrong side of the law. Because the law said my mothers could not get married, the mother who stayed home with me every day had no parental rights. As a result, when my biological mother was arrested, the law took me from my other mother, and my life was thrown into chaos.

The neighborhood into which I settled after my mother’s arrest only exacerbated my adversarial relationship with the law. The older boys taught me to fear the police patrolling apartment complex by running from them at first sight. They told me it did not matter if you were not doing anything wrong because, to a cop, you were always guilty of “being brown on the wrong side of town.” I tested this once by standing my ground and was harassed for the next hour—an ordeal made worse by my obstinate insistence that the police had no right to detain me. I eventually learned to feign the respect police craved, but I would avoid future contact whenever possible.

Just when I had made peace with the law, it told me I could not make a life with the woman I married because she had entered the country illegally. The law allowed me to petition for her forgiveness, but she would have to move back to Peru for the year it would take to decide our fates. Driving home from the airport after putting her on a one-way flight, I seethed with anger. Why did the law seem to destroy my happiness at every turn? My trip to visit her a few weeks later would change this outlook forever.

Witnessing the poverty and infrastructure of a third-world country gave me a better appreciation for the stability provided by the laws back home. I resented the law for taking my mother from me, but seeing women drag babies onto the cold streets at night to beg for money showed me not all mothers are fit to care for children. I feared the cops that used to patrol my neighborhood, but that fear seemed childish when I experienced the relative lawlessness of a Peruvian slum. Even the hatred I felt for the laws keeping me and my wife apart melted with the awareness that strict immigration plays a part in the prosperity enjoyed in the United States, for I understood the debate was far more nuanced than many would care to admit. This trip showed me there are two sides to every coin.

My diversity comes not simply from the fact I am Mexican-American but from a life spent experiencing the effects of a complex legal system that has given me an appreciation for the delicate tension between too much and too little legal enforcement. As my future classmates and I sift through legal theory, I hope to add to the conversation an empathetic understanding that these theories will have a profound effect upon the lives of real people.


I didn't think the second paragraph was that bad, except for "I eventually learned to feign the respect police craved..." You never know who's husband, wife, father, sister, brother, son, etc., may be a police officer. Maybe something like "I eventually learned it was easier to just comply with authorities, no matter how much I disagreed with them." or something.

Anonymous User
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Re: Is this Diversity topic risky?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 26, 2014 7:13 pm

encore1101 wrote:I didn't think the second paragraph was that bad, except for "I eventually learned to feign the respect police craved..." You never know who's husband, wife, father, sister, brother, son, etc., may be a police officer. Maybe something like "I eventually learned it was easier to just comply with authorities, no matter how much I disagreed with them." or something.


I was trying to use the voice I had at the time, but I could see how that might not be clear to everyone, and your suggestion is a good one.

lmr
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Re: Is this Diversity topic risky?

Postby lmr » Wed Nov 26, 2014 7:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
lmr wrote:Idk if others will agree but my personal opinion: I was with you until you went to Peru and compared it to the U.S. system and seemed to conclude that your earlier self was wrong. I think it's a little apologetic towards the end and maybe a little naive w your appreciation for our system compared to Peru. Focus it more on yourself-your upbringing, i was very interested up until it felt like you were being a little too safe and structured. I was more interested in what happened after your mother went to jail-who did you live with? What were the older kids who influenced you like? Impact it had on you? Idk i just think you have so many interesting things to work w that you don't need to talk about what a trip to Peru did for you. A bunch of upper middle class applicants are going to be doing that already.



I covered what happened after my mom was arrested in my PS. (I posted it here if anybody cares to compare http://top-law-schools.com/forums/viewt ... 8&t=239893)

You bring up a good point about the whole "trip changed my life" portion. It just hit me how often I've seen those in personal statements. I guess I was trying to get across, not that my earlier self was wrong, but that it wasn't right either, and I've grown out of the "F the police" phase. Maybe talking about seeing my uncle's killer prosecuted and/or working for both a public defender's office and a district attorney's office is a better way of showing how my opinion changed. Now that I think of it, those experiences are probably much more unique. Thanks for the feedback.


omg that sounds way more interesting and applicable to why you'd even want to go to law school. milk those experiences for all their worth-if you want to post it when you are done, i'd love to see what you come up with-there's prob so many different ways/perspectives you can go with that experience alone. good luck!

Anonymous User
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Re: Is this Diversity topic risky? (Revised)

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:03 pm

OP here. Let's try that again:


I lived much of my life on the wrong side of the law. Because the law said my mothers could not get married, the mother who stayed home with me every day had no parental rights. As a result, when my biological mother was arrested, the law took me from my other mother, and my life was thrown into chaos as I moved from place to place over the next few years.

The neighborhood into which I eventually settled only exacerbated my mistrust of the law. The older boys taught me to fear the police patrolling my apartment complex by running from them at first sight. They said it did not matter if you were not doing anything wrong because, to a cop, you were always guilty of “being brown on the wrong side of town.” I tested this once by standing my ground and was harassed for the next hour—an ordeal made worse by my obstinate insistence the police had no right to detain me. I learned it was easier to simply comply, no matter how much disagreed, but I went out of my way to avoid future contact. Cops treated us like criminals whenever we interacted, and we acted like criminals by running from them whenever we could. This cycle made life harder on both sides by fostering an adversarial relationship, but a family tragedy would soon show me the law could also be a great ally.

Uncle Richard was a big kid who could always make me laugh. Since I never knew my dad, Uncle Richard was the closest thing I had to a father figure, and I loved weekends spent playing video games with him and his kids. One night, however, someone broke into his apartment and shot him to death in his own bed. My family had known loss, but this sudden violence shook us like never before. I felt numb at his funeral. It was hard to mourn knowing his killer was out there somewhere. Little did I know, detectives already had a suspect and were hard at work putting together a case, and it was not long before a prosecutor let us know they were filing charges against the ex-boyfriend of my uncle’s girlfriend. The trial’s many delays were frustrating, but the prosecutor’s constant updates gave us peace of mind. Seeing the evidence painstakingly collected by the police showed me the difficulty of the job, and seeing the prosecutor’s passion in using that evidence in the courtroom was inspiring. Hearing the guilty verdict gave me the sense, for the first time in my life, that the law was on my side.

My diversity comes not simply from the fact I am Mexican-American but from a life spent experiencing the effects of a complex legal system that has given me an understanding of all the good and bad that system has to offer. Working for both criminal defense and prosecution over the last few years has only given me a greater appreciation for both sides of the spectrum, and as my future classmates and I sift through legal theory, I hope to add to the conversation an empathetic understanding that these theories must be handled with care, for they will have a profound effect upon the lives of real people.

lmr
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Re: Is this Diversity topic risky? (Revised)

Postby lmr » Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:23 pm

So much better than your 1st draft-it's engaging, easy to follow, nicely structured. Nice imagery of your uncle, you at the funeral, trial etc. You have a nice theme and I like how it's woven throughout your essay. Maybe you could slide in the age you were when your uncle was killed just bc as a reader i was trying to mentally picture you at the funeral/trial but didn't read an age. Don't see anything thing that I would substantively change.

btw-I think you missed an I in this sentence?
"I learned it was easier to simply comply, no matter how much disagreed..."

AReasonableMan
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Re: Is this Diversity topic risky? (Revised)

Postby AReasonableMan » Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Let's try that again:


I lived much of my life on the wrong side of the law. Because the law said my mothers could not get married, the mother who stayed home with me every day had no parental rights. As a result, when my biological mother was arrested, the law took me from my other mother, and my life was thrown into chaos as I moved from place to place over the next few years.

The neighborhood into which I eventually settled only exacerbated my mistrust of the law. The older boys taught me to fear the police patrolling my apartment complex by running from them at first sight. They said it did not matter if you were not doing anything wrong because, to a cop, you were always guilty of “being brown on the wrong side of town.” I tested this once by standing my ground and was harassed for the next hour—an ordeal made worse by my obstinate insistence the police had no right to detain me. I learned it was easier to simply comply, no matter how much disagreed, but I went out of my way to avoid future contact. Cops treated us like criminals whenever we interacted, and we acted like criminals by running from them whenever we could. This cycle made life harder on both sides by fostering an adversarial relationship, but a family tragedy would soon show me the law could also be a great ally.

Uncle Richard was a big kid who could always make me laugh. Since I never knew my dad, Uncle Richard was the closest thing I had to a father figure, and I loved weekends spent playing video games with him and his kids. One night, however, someone broke into his apartment and shot him to death in his own bed. My family had known loss, but this sudden violence shook us like never before. I felt numb at his funeral. It was hard to mourn knowing his killer was out there somewhere. Little did I know, detectives already had a suspect and were hard at work putting together a case, and it was not long before a prosecutor let us know they were filing charges against the ex-boyfriend of my uncle’s girlfriend. The trial’s many delays were frustrating, but the prosecutor’s constant updates gave us peace of mind. Seeing the evidence painstakingly collected by the police showed me the difficulty of the job, and seeing the prosecutor’s passion in using that evidence in the courtroom was inspiring. Hearing the guilty verdict gave me the sense, for the first time in my life, that the law was on my side.

My diversity comes not simply from the fact I am Mexican-American but from a life spent experiencing the effects of a complex legal system that has given me an understanding of all the good and bad that system has to offer. Working for both criminal defense and prosecution over the last few years has only given me a greater appreciation for both sides of the spectrum, and as my future classmates and I sift through legal theory, I hope to add to the conversation an empathetic understanding that these theories must be handled with care, for they will have a profound effect upon the lives of real people.

I only skimmed it, but the general story is exceptional. You're not only a URM, but a URM whose life was largely shaped by laws applicable to your status as a URM. It is both a diversity statement, and an affirmative answer to the question of "why law?" Schools interested in fostering a diverse culture will eat this up.

Anonymous User
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Re: Is this Diversity topic risky? (Revised)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 29, 2014 4:59 am

lmr wrote:btw-I think you missed an I in this sentence?
"I learned it was easier to simply comply, no matter how much disagreed..."


Thanks for catching that. I've read this thing so many damn times that my mind simply fills in the blanks.




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