Update - 5th Draft Personal Statement - Native American Applicant

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birdlaw92

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Update - 5th Draft Personal Statement - Native American Applicant

Postby birdlaw92 » Tue Dec 26, 2017 10:01 pm

EDIT: UPDATED DRAFT!

Hope I am getting closer to the A-range. Many thanks to Cavalier!

Bring on the constructive criticism! :)

[+] Spoiler
The circle of drummers unifies into a single syncopated thunder - no beat or voice discernible from the other. The drum-keeper locks eyes with mine and signals me to lead the chorus. To my embarrassment, I emit a shrill cry that reverberates throughout the ceremonial grounds. Unfazed, the men around the drum circle echo my verse and bump elbows with mine. Reassured, I conclude the chorus with honor beats, striking the drum again, and again, and again. The crashing off-beats pierce through the acquiescing rumble. The chorus rotates, from elders, to adults, to youths, until we conclude by touching the drum and saying “miigwetch” [thank you]. I felt that my voice finally mattered after this first sitting at the drum.

Months prior, in a rural-Midwestern household, my father ruled over us as his subjects. Though, perhaps “objects” would be a more fitting description. His drum solos were unrelenting, composed of violent and erratic beats. His palms struck our bodies. His voice silenced our minds. He decreed, “No son of mine’s goin’ to be a f@ggot…you’re not a savage...don’t let a bitch tell you what to do.” My mother endured the brunt of his rage as she rebelliously took our place as his drum. Each act of defiance weakened the confines that the corrections-officer had instituted in our minds.

At first opportunity, we fled to a New-World-of-sorts for a better life as we connected with our tribal community. I attended Bahweting tribal school where I embraced Anishinaabe culture, language, and history. While raising three children, my mother became a certified teacher, school administrator, and an authority in the field of tribal education after earning her doctorate. She was preceded by my grandmother, who was the first woman and tribal member elected as Chippewa County Commissioner. They were models of resistance, employing self-sacrifice, perseverance, and bravery that I too would need to embody in my career and personal life.

During my second year of undergrad, I was assaulted by two men who caught me displaying affection with my same-sex partner in private. Being publicly outed to my friends, family, and peers, was more painful that the blows to my face, since I had yet to come to terms with my sexuality. I felt unsafe, vulnerable, and ashamed, withdrawing from school and my community. My tribal chairman empathized with my situation, confiding in me that he faced similar adversities as a gay tribal leader. He advised, “in a society adept in emphasizing difference, we need to be even better at emphasizing commonalities--isolating yourself perpetuates difference, whereas integrating yourself, as a unifying force, brings purpose and happiness.”

I followed his advice. I became a presenter for the political science club, an orientation leader, and elected by my peers as Student Prosecutor. I assumed these positions under the guiding principle that you cannot achieve unity when voices are excluded – this especially concerns the vulnerable and underrepresented students who felt disempowered, like I once did. These leadership experiences added to my motivation to study political inequity of underrepresented groups in graduate school to build upon my political science undergraduate degree. I studied race, ethnic, and gender politics informed by normative political philosophy. With my expertise and evolved perspective, I aspired to give a voice to vulnerable and underrepresented groups – starting with my tribe.

I am currently serving the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians as a policy researcher and journalist, exploring the extent of “environmental racism” affecting our community. My articles are intended to inform and empower tribal members, providing them with methods to deliberate with non-tribal members, namely through emphasizing common economic and health interests concerning shared natural resources. Often enduring the most perceptible effects of pollution and resource-scarcity, tribal people have an opportunity to bring visibility and critical emphasis on, what really ought to be considered, universal concerns. Once equipped with a legal skill-set, I will have the ability to give a voice to politically-underrepresented groups, including tribes, enduring environmental racism.

I keep this in mind as I say “miigwetch” to the drum, Ogiima-Monisino – conveying my commitment to challenge the imminent threat of environmental devastation ahead of us, as a human collective, if we continue down a path of apathy, exclusion, and disunity.
Last edited by birdlaw92 on Fri Dec 29, 2017 3:10 pm, edited 4 times in total.

cavalier1138

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Re: Personal Statement - Gay Native American - Environmental Law

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:01 pm

Grade: B-

There's a lot of potential here, but it's too long. The good news is that you can cut it down to size very easily.

You have the seeds of a fantastic PS here. The parts touching on your personal experience of living with your sexual orientation inside the tribal culture are incredibly compelling. The parts waxing poetic about Aristotle are... not. I know that it might be uncomfortable to delve too deep into the personal aspects of this essay, but that's where the real gold is. If you can drop the overly academic language and just write from the heart about your youth, I think this could be absolutely phenomenal. But in its current state, you give way too much service to academic concepts and things that we can learn from your resume.

The personal statement is just that: personal. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable and messy.

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oshberg28

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Re: Personal Statement - Gay Native American - Environmental Law

Postby oshberg28 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:38 pm

Yep, what cavalier said. Admissions officers aren't looking for an academic piece or how smart you can sound; sure, they like pieces that are well written, but they really want to learn something about yourself that they won't learn from the resume. You want them to remember your story, and sounding academic will cause them to gloss over the PS. In a way, write the PS as if you are writing in a personal journal.

birdlaw92

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Re: Personal Statement - Gay Native American - Environmental Law

Postby birdlaw92 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:12 pm

Thanks for the input. Great advice from both of you!

I will start revisions by:
[*]Cutting the entire senior thesis paragraph.
[*]Dropping the overly academic tone you both picked up on.

From there I can highlight the more compelling sections.

birdlaw92

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Re: Personal Statement - Gay Native American - Environmental Law

Postby birdlaw92 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 5:47 pm

Updated my personal Statement


The edit cuts down on any academic talk not directly related to my cultural background and ethical perspectives. Elaborated on my leadership role to demonstrate, rather than talk about, my goals and ideals as a leader. Also, cut the statement down from 850 words to 699 words.

Please let me know which areas are strong and which are still weak. Constructive Criticism (and TLS-format grade) would be greatly appreciated!

[+] Spoiler
The circle of drummers unifies into a single syncopated thunder - no beat or voice discernible from the other. The drum-keeper locks eyes with mine and signals me to lead the chorus. To my chagrin, I emit a shrill cry that reverberates throughout the ceremonial grounds. Unfazed, the men at the drum echo my verse and bump elbows with mine. Reassured, I conclude the chorus with honor beats, striking the drum again, and again, and again. The crashing off-beats pierce through the acquiescing rumble. The chorus rotates, from elders, to adults, to youths, until we conclude by touching the drum and saying “miigwetch” [thank you]. During this first sitting at the drum, I felt that my voice mattered.

Months prior, in a rural-Midwestern household, my father ruled over us -- his subjects. His drum solo was unrelenting, composed of violent and erratic beats. His palms struck our bodies. His voice silenced our minds. He decreed, “No son of mine’s goin’ to be a f@ggot princess…you’re not a savage...don’t let a bitch tell you what to do.” My mother endured the brunt of his contempt as she intervened during his punitive spectacles. Each act of defiance weakened the confines that the corrections-officer had instituted in our minds.

At first opportunity, we fled to a New-World-of-sorts for a better life as we connected with our tribal community. I attended Bahweting tribal school where I embraced Anishinaabe culture, language, and history. As a parent of three, my mother began her undergraduate studies in her thirties, became an educator, an administrator, and an authority in the field of education upon earning her doctorate. She was preceded by my grandmother, who was the first woman and tribal member elected as Chippewa County Commissioner. They were models of resistance against political hegemony, employing self-sacrifice, perseverance, and bravery that I too would need to embody in my career and personal life.

During my second year of undergrad, I was assaulted while privately displaying affection with my same-sex partner. I was publicly outed to my friends, family, and peers, in an area where everyone knows everything about everyone, and I had yet to come to terms with my sexuality. I felt unsafe, vulnerable, and ashamed, as I withdrew from school and my community. My tribal chairman empathized with my situation, facing similar adversities as a gay tribal leader. He advised, “in a society adept in emphasizing difference, we need to be even better at emphasizing commonalities--isolation yourself perpetuates difference, whereas integrating yourself, as a unifying force, brings purpose and happiness.”

I followed his advice. I became more active on campus, selected as a presenter for the political science club, selected as campus orientation leader, and elected as the Student Prosecutor by my peers. During the Student Prosecutor campaign, I expressed my intention to cultivate unity in the face of rampant conflict within student government. I instituted preemptive educational initiatives that reduced bylaw violations, and opted to mediate, rather than prosecute disputes when possible. Mediation seemed to help emphasize each parties’ similarities and address miscommunication allowing for perspectives to harmonize; whereas, parties almost always retained their differences in prosecution. Earning the respect of my peers as a unifier was fulfilling, and influenced me to explore how pervasive inequity in society affects our ability to address collective action problems in graduate school.

I was puzzled by the most daunting collective-action problem our society faces -- climate change. Environmental concerns and resource scarcity disproportionately affect tribal communities due to forced relocation, fossil-fuel infrastructure, and industrial pollution. I realized that I needed to pursue a legal career to challenge this “environmental racism.” Upon earning my Master’s, I served my tribe as a journalist, exploring environmental racism within my tribe’s context. I informed tribal members of local environmental concerns, and provided tools to effectively deliberate with non-tribal members, namely through appealing to shared interests.

As I say “miigwetch” to the drum, Ogiima Monisino, before departing to law school, I am not only conveying my appreciation to my tribal community, I am committing myself to protect tribal communities, vulnerable populations, and the human collective amid climate change and imminent environmental devastation if we continue down a trajectory of self-interest, disunity, and avarice.

cavalier1138

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Re: Personal Statement - Gay Native American - Environmental Law

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:18 pm

Better, but not there yet. You're at a solid B.

Still avoid the overly academic language. It's not about avoiding big words. I love the poetic images of the "drumbeat" of your father's hands, but phrases like "punitive spectacles" just don't ring true. You're a good enough writer that I can tell when you're slipping out of your authentic voice and into the voice you believe an adcomm wants to hear. Fight that instinct and stick with your words, even if they don't sound as "smart" as you might think they need to.

On a similar note, the bit about taking a more active role in student governance and the environmental law bit feel very out of place. I don't think you need those paragraphs here at all, and I think they take the reader out of the original focus of the piece. Don't be afraid to just let this personal statement be personal; you can explain your interest in a specific legal field in your Why X essay, or in a separate addendum.

birdlaw92

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Re: Update - 5th Draft Personal Statement - Native American Applicant

Postby birdlaw92 » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:51 pm

Updated my draft in the first post.



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