PS rough draft-please help!

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shea1342

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PS rough draft-please help!

Postby shea1342 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:12 am

I have a pretty rough personal statement below that I would love critiques on please. I have a basic story and then below is a quick paragraph on my original reason to go into law. I don't where that could be put or if it's even a necessity. This is all greatly appreciated!

All my friends are homeless. It was the running joke I heard my first year in Atlanta. Every time I’d call my family, boyfriend, or friends back in the Mountain State, I’d tell them about the person I met outside the train station or bus stop and hear that phrase or some variation. I’d moved to Atlanta from the small town of Huntington, West Virginia. I was determined to acclimate myself to the city and call myself a real native. Several days a week I took my apartment’s shuttle bus down to what I’d heard people refer to as ‘the Underground’. I spent hours wandering from block to block, memorizing landmarks and ducking into a Waffle House or Burger King for a quick bite.
One day on my way home, a man stopped me. His pants were worn and his jacket was much too light for the brisk weather that day. He carried a black backpack, holding all he owned. As he approached me and I braced myself to apologize and tell this man I carried no money. Instead of asking me for money, he asked if I would buy him food. After a few months living here and no job prospects, I’d become the queen of coupons and stretching my dollars, especially when it came to buy one, get one deals. I couldn’t give a lot, but I could give a meal. That became my normal. I usually only bought the food and conversed a few minutes, a half hour at most, before returning home. That may be one reason why meeting Lawanda stands out so prominently in my mind.
I was crossing the street when I noticed a woman standing at the corner. She stood out to me, but not for anything she was doing. People were avoiding her like a disease, turning their heads to avoid eye contact. She didn’t seem to notice or care and continued eating her white cheddar popcorn. I smiled at her and she approached me. We struck up a conversation about popcorn, my favorite snack, when she asked me to get her a meal. I said, “I am pretty hungry too. How about Chinese?” We crossed the street to a local Chinese place. We both ordered the special and found a spot in the back corner of the restaurant. We spoke about the weather and I tried to avoid the elephant in the room. After about five minutes she answered my burning, unspoken question.
Lawanda was a native of Tennessee and a former hairstylist. An abusive relationship had her steal away to Atlanta. She named every scar on her arms before pointing to her cheek. The marks were faint now, but I could still see the imprint of teeth marks from her then husband. She’d been shielding her daughter from that attack. Her silence after that explanation made the room seem stuffy and I urged her to tell me about her salon. Lawanda segued into her time as a stylist and salon owner. Her eyes lit up when she described her signature twists and layered looks. I couldn’t understand it. After an hour, I mustered the courage to ask how she went from business owner to homelessness. She’d run from her husband with only a few sets of clothes in hopes of finding a shelter, but Atlanta was a popular hub. There simply weren’t enough shelters and she didn’t want to tell her family all she’d been through recently. Lawanda shot out a bitter laugh. Her daughter was my age and studying to be a social worker. She knew her daughter wanted to use her degree to help people so she lied and told her daughter all was well in Atlanta. She didn’t want to be a burden. As we parted ways, Lawanda pulled me into a hug and thanked me. She cupped my cheeks and told me that I must have been an angel to come into her life at that time and make her feel human again. I thought an angel wouldn’t feel so helpless, but I smiled anyway. I promised her that I would look into shelters in the area and educate myself on these issues. When I found an agency to help, I would find her.
I went home antsy. I scourged the internet in a controlled fit, pulling up tab after tab on homeless shelters in the area and how I could help. I contacted My Sister’s House and two weeks later, I started my volunteer service of a receptionist.
Nearly every day for a month after, I returned to that Chinese restaurant. I walked from block to block looking for Lawanda. I was so excited to tell her that a spot was available at the shelter. If it was full, I knew four more places. She would have a warm place to stay and her daughter wouldn’t have to worry about her well-being. I never saw her again.
My short time speaking to Lawanda has impacted many of my choices. I memorized addresses and numbers of homeless shelters, raised money for domestic violence shelters, and I currently create goal setting clubs in my county, an after-care program marketed toward those who have experienced homelessness. The goal is to provide the tools and resources for individuals to gain self-sufficiency. My passion has always been to help others. While pursuing law has always been my goal, at times I questioned if my broad reason was enough. Meeting Lawanda solidified my resolve. I want to advocate and serve those who feel voiceless and unrepresented. I want to provide knowledge to victims that think they have no legal recourse in obtaining justice. I want to pursue public interest law. The skills I used on Marshall University’s Speech and Debate team and Marshall University’s Communication Club where there was a strong orientation towards research, public speaking, and written communication coupled with my nonprofit background make public interest law a clear career path for me. While I know every challenge may not end in victory, by my desire is to pursue knowledge and set a precedent that brings forth progress. These skills are an integral part of being successful in this field of work and I know mine will only strengthen under this program’s tutelage. This program simply isn’t creating an opportunity for me, but seeing an investment in me Thank you for your consideration.

I knew I wanted to be a lawyer at an early age and my desire to pursue law came innocently enough. My first grade teacher, Mr. Addams, left the classroom for a moment and upon returning, he noticed his chalk was missing. None of the students saw who took the chalk, but Mr. Addams was sure it was Eisha. Eisha had the reputation of being a troublemaker. He reprimanded Eisha and took away her recess for the day, one of the worst punishments for a first grader. I didn’t think it was fair and told my teacher he didn’t have reasonable evidence to punish Eisha. I pointed out that none of the students saw her with the chalk, she didn’t have the chalk near her or at her desk, and there was no residue of chalk on her hands. I ended my argument promising that I would give up my recess for disrupting the class if he had a reason for punishing Eisha. Mr. Addams sighed and told us to go to recess. Instead of being annoyed, Mr. Addams turned the event into an activity for my class. Whenever there was a dispute between classmates, my teacher would hold a mock trial, appointing me as a defense lawyer. Albeit trivial, this put me on my path toward practicing law.

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mjb447

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Re: PS rough draft-please help!

Postby mjb447 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:25 am

It's a really nice story, but I might not include the first-grade thing. Your experiences assisting the homeless sell me pretty well on why you're interested in law school and are more recent and relevant, and I'm not sure where you'd put the first grade thing in given its entirely different tone.

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mudiverse

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Re: PS rough draft-please help!

Postby mudiverse » Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:12 am

This is pretty decent, sans the last paragraph (did you copy paste that by accident or something?). I actually enjoyed it which is more than I can say for most of these personal statements and it's a rare spirit that actually takes action to help the homeless rather than just sympathizing.

Some thoughts.

One day on my way home, a man stopped me. His pants were worn and his jacket was much too light for the brisk weather that day. He carried a black backpack, holding all he owned. As he approached me and I braced myself to apologize and tell this man I carried no money. Instead of asking me for money, he asked if I would buy him food. After a few months living here and no job prospects, I’d become the queen of coupons and stretching my dollars, especially when it came to buy one, get one deals. I couldn’t give a lot, but I could give a meal. That became my normal. I usually only bought the food and conversed a few minutes, a half hour at most, before returning home. That may be one reason why meeting Lawanda stands out so prominently in my mind.


1. This is event ended up having nothing to do with the broader essay other than introducing the idea that you like to treat the homeless to meals. The real event was about Lawanda so I was confused when you spent so much space detailing the man's appearance and your conversation with him. I think you can meld this into the first paragraph.

As we parted ways, Lawanda pulled me into a hug and thanked me. She cupped my cheeks and told me that I must have been an angel to come into her life at that time and make her feel human again. I thought an angel wouldn’t feel so helpless, but I smiled anyway. I promised her that I would look into shelters in the area and educate myself on these issues. When I found an agency to help, I would find her.


2. This is a great scene and the image of Lawanda cupping your cheeks stands out in the essay. It's really an outstanding moment that I wish you would linger on or maybe describe your afterthoughts. You felt a great need to help her in the next paragraph and I can sense the urgency. Before that, what motivated you to do this? What did the interaction with Lawanda do for you and did it spark something you want to discuss ? I think you have something here that needs more.

While I know every challenge may not end in victory, by my desire is to pursue knowledge and set a precedent that brings forth progress. These skills are an integral part of being successful in this field of work and I know mine will only strengthen under this program’s tutelage. This program simply isn’t creating an opportunity for me, but seeing an investment in me Thank you for your consideration.


3. OK some word salad going on here in the second to last paragraph. Investment? What precedent and for whom? 'Thank you for your consideration'? Awful way to end an otherwise good essay.

Overall I think it was an above average essay if I ignore the last paragraph and a half. I think the ideas are all here but you should take a hard look at the style of writing and the flow. A compound sentence here and there would make a big difference since you come across a bit stuttered at times. Like I said earlier, a more introspective look could be an opportunity to make this essay even better.

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mjb447

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Re: PS rough draft-please help!

Postby mjb447 » Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:15 am

mudiverse wrote:This is pretty decent, sans the last paragraph (did you copy paste that by accident or something?).


Almost missed it on my first read as well, but...

shea1342 wrote:I have a pretty rough personal statement below that I would love critiques on please. I have a basic story and then below is a quick paragraph on my original reason to go into law. I don't where that could be put or if it's even a necessity. This is all greatly appreciated!.


ETA that I agree with mudiverse's points, especially 1 and 3. (2 is more of a personal preference thing.)
Last edited by mjb447 on Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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mudiverse

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Re: PS rough draft-please help!

Postby mudiverse » Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:18 am

mjb447 wrote:
mudiverse wrote:This is pretty decent, sans the last paragraph (did you copy paste that by accident or something?).


Almost missed it on my first read as well, but...

shea1342 wrote:I have a pretty rough personal statement below that I would love critiques on please. I have a basic story and then below is a quick paragraph on my original reason to go into law. I don't where that could be put or if it's even a necessity. This is all greatly appreciated!.


Doh! thanks

Yes just delete that straight up homie

DrGlennRichie

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Re: PS rough draft-please help!

Postby DrGlennRichie » Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:35 am

Last paragraph, about first grade has to go. Seems like everyone agrees.

Without it, overall assay is OK. But I would suggest it to be reorganized, not re-written.

Your first paragraph is confusing and somewhat arrogant. Why do you care about homeless? Why are you in Atlanta? It seems like you are treating homeless to meals to get their stories in some weird type of entertainment. It feels like you treat homeless like zoo animals. You feed them, they entertain you. I don't see any sympathy from you. First paragraph does a great job of showing how distant you are from homeless. First it is a "Joke" that all you friends are homeless. Then it is Small W. Virginia town vs. Atlanta, Then you describe how you treat them to meals in exchange to their stories, much like feeding animals in a zoo.

The bit about guy in clothes that are not up to season ends without any conclusion.

This is my suggestion for reorganization:

1. Start with Lawandas' story. It is very emotional as it is written. I really liked it. Once I read it, immediately I was engaged, so it is better to move it upfront.

2. Your description of her experiences is great. I would only remove " how she went from business owner to homelessness" question as it sounds very self-righteous. There are better ways to ask about that.

3, After that emotional experience it is just natural that you sought how to help her and directed her to shelters.

4. Now you can describe how you interacted with other homeless people. It is very clear where your interest comes from and it is based on compassion.

5. Then you can put this buy one get one free meal to describe how you helped the homeless on a budget.

And that's where you can end it.

shea1342

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Re: PS rough draft-please help!

Postby shea1342 » Fri Jan 20, 2017 6:38 pm

Thank you all for your candor and for taking the time out to read this. Your feedback has really helped. I knew that was more to linger on at certain parts and some things to cut away, but as I was writing, my mind was so jumbled. Being that this topic can be so sensitive and one close to my heart, I don't want poor word choice to paint me as someone arrogant or someone who used homeless individuals for my amusement. I'll take the first grade paragraph out, and rearrange/rewrite the rest.



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