Looking for some feedback with my personal statement- constructive criticism, please. I dont have any amazing life-changing stories, i've never had the opportunity to work abroad... i'm just trying to communicate who i really am, and why i think i'd be a valuable student. Its just a beginning-
I grew up in the mountains, far removed from the suburban sprawl of my Northern Californian hometown. After school each day, I came home to a vast, remote world where my closest companions were my dogs and my thoughts. My father, an earth scientist, taught me to value my surroundings, to embrace nature enthusiastically and but also with humility. From a very early age, I had a powerful sense of just how small and inexperienced I was. Everything was so miraculously complex—much of it beyond the comprehension of even the most brilliant scientists—and I had a great deal to learn.
This sense of perspective, combined with the rural isolation of my childhood, made me tremendously introverted. I was shy and thoughtful, inclined to observe and absorb my surroundings, rather than express myself within them. While other children were on the playground, I often spent my time reading or just watching them, pondering our differences. My teachers loved me, but my peers thought I was “weird”. Their disapproval only heightened my shyness, made me more reluctant to speak.
During high school, as our nation was transformed by its new presidency, the events of 9/11 and the Iraq War, I was partially drawn out of my introverted bubble. With some friends, I formed a group: Students for Information and Action, or as we jokingly called it: the S.I.A. It was my first opportunity to project myself outwardly, and thus to develop a sense of myself in a social context. I found that I was a political junkie, a young activist and a fiercely righteous woman. During this transformation, however, I remained behind-the-scenes, helping my activist friends to write speeches and plan protests, but never taking the podium myself. I observed many of them as they cried for peace and denounced the institutions, and found that my own opinions were still too complex and tentative for such certitude.
When it was time for college, I left my mountain home for the big city of Los Angeles. At first I was overwhelmed by the massive size of UCLA; the sheer number of students in each classroom was daunting for someone so shy. My grades reflected my anxieties during that first year, and I strongly considered transferring to a smaller institution. Determined to discover my voice, however, I persisted—I choose a major which fully engaged my passion for international politics, I immersed myself in reading and research and other scholarly pursuits, and I began to enroll in upper-division courses, with more opportunities to interact with both my peers and professors. Whereas the other motivated students thrived on classroom competition and leadership opportunities, I flourished on ideas. My introverted self found a perfect niche in scholarship, which demanded constant, keen observation and the perpetual deconstruction of concepts. Equipped with sharp analytical skills and an abundance of knowledge, I soon became a leader in many of my classes. My shy childhood self was disappearing, and in her place emerged a well-educated and confident young woman.
It was with this newfound confidence that I began my first internship with an international NGO, Global Partners for Development, which provided financial assistance for grassroots development projects in East Africa. Although my primary task was research, I quickly found that my ideas—as young and inexperienced as I was—were highly valued by my employers. For example, my suggestions for streamlining the project application process improved the organization’s efficiency, allowing them to review more project requests than before. For the first time in my life, I genuinely felt that I was an agent of change.
During my time at Global Partners, I developed strong opinions about the nature of donor involvement in international development. Eager to voice those opinions, I returned to UCLA and embarked on an honors research project, in which I further explored the advantages and disadvantages of having an outside organization facilitate “community-driven” development. I began as I have always begun—the quiet observer and meticulous researcher. Wading through rivers of rhetoric, deconstructing hundreds of project reports, I soon discovered my own unique and highly critical perspective. Most donors, I argued, had failed to produce an environment where local communities were actually in control of their own development projects. Examples like Global Partners, whose involvement was limited to facilitating and financing projects, were the exception. The final paper, a year's worth of research and drafting, was one of my proudest achievements. Not only was it a worthy piece of scholarship, but it was also a tangible embodiment of my perspective, projected outward into the world for all to see.
Since having finished that paper and graduated in June, I've continued to discover new ways of expressing myself and impacting the world around me. I initiated a Political Action Committee to combat the construction of a Las Vegas style Casino resort in my home county, which would have disastrous ecological and social impacts. Although I’m the youngest member of this group, I have taken a commanding voice in committee discussions and a great deal of responsibility as treasurer. I've also just gone back to work for Global Partners, now as an associate rather than an intern, and am excited about the year that I will spend there. Most of all, I am eagerly anticipating my future legal education, so that I can further sharpen my analytical and oral skills, and more precisely develop my voice.
I am ready to take the podium. I am ready for _______ Law School.