Please critique: Div. Statement RE: hate letter & growth

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Please critique: Div. Statement RE: hate letter & growth

Postby PakiGuy87 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:07 pm

Background: I am a Pakistani-American, male and an immigrant. Although I do not fall under the URM category for obvious reasons both Ann Levine and Anna Ivey in their admission's books recommend that individuals falling within my particular category write a Diversity Statement.

But before I begin, I have a question: Can mentioning the fact that I am an immigrant (albiet, one that immigrated to this country when I was six-years-old) be seen as a negative or positive? I do not, under any circumstances, want to give the impression that my English speaking/reading/writing abilities are subpar.

Please critique and be brutally honest. Thank you--Me.

Diversity Statement:

The barely legible scrawl on a piece of torn paper taped to my dorm room door could not be clearer—I was not wanted. My stomach bottomed out; my hopes of a fitting in comfortably in college were nearly dashed at that very moment. “We don’t like YOUR kind here, you damn Muslim!” read the note. Who could write something so demeaning about my identity, which I was still struggling to form, and write it in such a way as it limited me in its entirety as devotee to my religion and nothing more? This was not what I expected college to be. I had expected to mature in a supportive environment where I could make life-long bonds with diverse, open-minded peers. I showed the Resident Director the note and requested to be moved to another dorm across campus. On a frosty Chicago night, mere days before the first finals of college, I pushed a cart with my belongings across campus to another dorm.

That incident, however ugly as it was, would in time reveal something about myself that I had overlooked. I attended high school in Kansas and I distanced myself from my identity as a Muslim, as a Pakistani and as an immigrant in order to assimilate more easily as an American teenager. I had long held on to the flawed argument that I could not concurrently hold on to my religious and cultural values and integrate successfully into American society. I must admit it sounds naïve now but I bought into that argument, which I saw repeatedly implied in the media following the tragic events of 9/11 when I was merely twelve-years-old. Believing that flawed idea led me to wear one mask around individuals with whom I shared my religious and cultural background and another with persons I did not share those characteristics. In hindsight, I realize that it was a way for me to protect myself from rejection.

However, wearing those masks helped foster a certain habit of mind that I would find useful in college. I was able to transition successfully to the humanities track because of the ability to balance two different value systems. I lived on the fence between “East and West” and I would use that skill to uncover a strong affinity for history and political science. What was originally an exhausting balancing act in high school conferred a definite advantage when it came to persuasive essay writing, which required the ability to not only present a novel argument but to skillfully consider and discard a counterargument.

In time I would see that incident for what it really was—an immature act that would not define my college career because I would not let it. The hate letter resurfaced deep conflicts about my identity that I would not have been able to resolve without first understanding how I truly see myself. We may not be able to control the actions of other people but our own reactions matter far more. I could have withdrawn from social life at the university out of fear of rejection. I could have let the hate letter affect me emotionally. I chose neither option because that would mean letting the hate letter control my choices. Instead I embraced my new dorm mates, young men and women who, like me, came from a variety of backgrounds. I participated in social service events with these open-minded individuals and still maintain contact with them. Starting sophomore year I joined our campus newspaper, The [REDACTED FOR TLS], as a news writer and Op-ed contributor so that I could have a voice. I finally placed the incident behind me and learned to embrace my identity in college. At an alumni-networking conference this summer a man my age approached me. He told me that he had written the note on my door and expressed his sincere apologies. I told him that he was a man of character for apologizing to me and that I had long forgiven him as a part of my healing process. I asked him to put the incident behind us.

No matter what our background, we are all individuals with inherently distinctive personalities—each with its own unique strengths that can be called upon at will. That to me is the central aspect of diversity. I have made peace with my identity on my own terms, not by hiding behind masks when it felt inconvenient, but by embracing it as a source of strength.

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Mr. Elshal

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Re: Please critique: Div. Statement RE: hate letter & growth

Postby Mr. Elshal » Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:08 am

First of all, rest assured that they will not make assumptions about your reading and writing skills based on your being an immigrant. That's what the LSAT and PS are for. If you did well on the LSAT, they know you can read English, and if your Personal Statement is well-written, they will know that you can write.

Second, in terms of your Diversity Statement, I like the topic and I like your writing. I'm a bit busy today, so I'm not going to write a full-blown critique but the one thing that stood out to me in a strange way was the way you introduced your two-faced-ness. When you introduce it, you talk about how it was based on a flawed idea (which makes me think you don't like it) and then go into how it helped you in life (the opposite of what I was expecting). There might be a better way to word it so that it flows a little better.

Also, this is just my opinion, so I'm not sure if other people will feel the same. I hope the feedback helps, and good luck getting through the application process

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