PS critique - overcoming adversity

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Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 1:59 pm

PS critique - overcoming adversity

Postby modestproposal » Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:27 am

Hey all, looking for some more advice on this PS - I am trying to weave together a significant moment in my life and my experiences after and show how they have landed me where I am and how I feel law school is my next step, I'm a couple drafts in, let me know what you guys think - happy to critique others if they wish to PM me, thank you all for your help!


Early in the summer after my high school graduation, excited to embark on a path of study in sociology that would shape my worldview, an unforeseen catalyst began that process early. While at work, my mother suffered a major seizure. She was rushed to the hospital, where the cause was determined to be a large tumor growing and pressing against her brain. This event irrevocably changed my mother’s path as well as my own, and would force us to experience firsthand the difficulties millions of Americans face as they are thrust through our country’s tangled system of human services. The tumor was found to be a result of cancer that had metastasized from a series of other growths in her lungs. The problematic growth was removed in an operation that saved her life but altered her mind permanently. Short-term memory was forever damaged and months of therapy would be required to return her to a semi-normal state.

These new, unforeseen circumstances began my role as an advocate in her life. As I commenced my studies in the fall at Iowa State University, she began her recovery. I visited often; spending hours helping her learn and navigate this new world, aiding her with the extensive amount of paperwork to be completed in the midst of a demanding round of radiation and chemotherapy. I helped her apply for disability, find a new, more accommodating housing situation, and organize family members to take her to treatments. I found the system to be very cold and harsh; without support, I saw how easily someone could be overwhelmed. Each medical and emotional challenge was met with an equal amount of bureaucracy. It proved to be a stressful time, which reflected academically in my first years of undergrad. On top of the required courses that fill the first two years of college, the situation of my mother facing her mortality so early in life and the difficulties that ensued caused me to have bouts of anxiety and struggles with focus.

As I moved through my studies, I learned much about the assorted inequalities that perpetuate the systems which govern our health and well-being, while at home, I witnessed these effects firsthand in my mother. Growing up she never had the means or opportunity to go to college, married very early, and struggled with various addictions well into her adult life. I didn’t think about much about these things before, but once I was away and able to look back, I could see how these early hurdles were making this new crisis much worse. I came to realize my position as her advocate was vital.

After months of chemo treatments, we finally saw some relief, her tumors had receded and she was deemed to be in remission. Rehabilitation continued through the end of my sophomore year and the next semester I became more engaged in my studies: editing the college newspaper, enrolling in graduate-level courses, and taking up a second major. I fleshed out my interests in nonprofits and advocacy work and researched globalization and its effects on the poor. Following graduation, I took a year to serve as an AmeriCorps member at the local legal aid office, helping three staff attorneys service eight counties of people in rural Iowa, tackling issues such as domestic violence, landlord abuses and foreclosure. I administered a divorce clinic each month at the county courthouse, assigning volunteer attorneys to help those with low literacy and limited income complete forms which had put life on hold for years.

As my service year ended, I ventured to continue my path abroad and join the Peace Corps, and was given an offer to serve on the second cohort going to Kosovo. However, my mother’s health again became an issue and my partner had just accepted an invitation to graduate school, so I turned down the offer to serve and relocated. I found a second, yearlong AmeriCorps position at the Durham Literacy Center as a computer literacy instructor, advocating for Durham residents to empower themselves through technology and increase their access to services, information, and communication. On the home front, I continued helping my mother. I worked with a lawyer to become power of attorney, helped her through the tedious process of applying for and being accepted into Medicaid, and assisted her in the difficult transition to the nursing facility where she now resides.

Through all this, there never really was an ‘Aha!’ moment for me where I decided I wanted to practice law, I believe it to be the culmination of my various personal and professional experiences, where I have cultivated a love for advocacy and helping others. If my studies prepared me to see the systems that govern us as unequal in their application, my experience has shown me the means to help others and develop myself to take a larger role in narrowing these gaps of inequality. I have made it my mission to progress my path of public service and become a more involved, better informed advocate in both my work and at home. It is through these virtues that I see myself a solid candidate for X’s program and its aims of producing committed, knowledgeable public servants.

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