Personal Statement - critique needed

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Personal Statement - critique needed

Post by curlychica » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:16 am

Thank you so much for reading my PS. I really appreciate it. I have thick skin and really want a critique that might help me get into law school. Because it is relevant to the passage, I am a woman.

My mother lay passed out on our neighbor’s grass in the middle of the afternoon, blood slowly pounding out of her right temple. I had followed my parents onto our crumbling front porch as my father yelled a litany of my mother’s shortcomings while aggressively following my mother to the car. He later recalled that “she put her head in the way of the trunk,” as if a person would choose to block a closing door with their head instead of one of their many other appendages. I remember his hands on the trunk door, slamming it down as she tried to get away, though I fearfully kept silent when the police asked me questions in the back bedroom. I often kept silent when police were around, though it was rare they came. My father normally didn’t resort to physical violence – he used words to harm and coerce us. But this day was special; it was the day my mother left and my father stayed. After years of abuse, my mother finally escaped when I was seven. My father lives in a reality far away from cause and effect, a reality that reinforces his victimhood and charges everyone one else as an undependable liar, cheater, idiot and ugly person. I was left with an absent mother and a psychotic father and I had no choice but to grow up quickly. With my mother missing, I was left to become my younger brother’s parent and my father’s confidante, calming him down when reality threatened his drug-induced stupor.

The welfare office was in a run-down strip mall in the bad part of town. My father relished the opportunity to wait in the small, dingy office with the other welfare participants. He felt superior as the only single father sitting in the rickety plastic chairs, especially when women commented that they’d never seen a single dad waiting in that office before. But back at home, his “good father” disguise could come off, and his superiority turned to malice. He called me fat, lazy, unacceptable, and an imbecile on a daily basis. He told me that he contemplated suicide, wanted to blackmail my mother, and of his fetishes and sex life. I tried to protect my younger brother as best as I could from my father, which resulted in a strange combination of agreeing with my father’s twisted reality and passionately arguing against his martyred world that never existed.

Yet, I am grateful for the poverty and chaos of my youth. It imbued me with a sense of kinship with people in unfortunate situations as well as deep gratitude for the bounty in my life. Governmental aid meant we never lacked for food or school supplies, and we always had a roof over our head. With so little money, simple life staples like these felt glamorous. I volunteered at a food bank, and I felt so rich compared to the homeless families I served. I felt undeserving of this richness, for why should I always have a full fridge at home when a homeless seven year old has been unwashed for days due to his mother’s addiction? The guilt of having enough when others did not filled and overwhelmed me. Despite my difficult home life, I had everything I needed to succeed: good schools, food on the dinner table, and a roof over my head. I was in contact with many people, including my friends, who lacked one or more of these things at home, but I felt no reason why I should have better living conditions.

To lessen my guilt, I needed to believe that I could make the world better. While my father provided me with little moral framework, my Jewish education helped transform my gratitude and guilt into action. In Judaism we are commanded to do tikkun olam, to repair the world. I hung on to this tenet, desperately hoping that I could improve the world for myself and everyone else. I did all that I could to give back, including volunteering with community organizations, political campaigns, and the faith community.

Helpless against my father’s rages, I still could find empowerment through my Jewish education, which told me miraculous outcomes can come from small actions. Last year my wife and I celebrated a traditional Jewish wedding, officiated by our Conservative Jewish rabbi. Ten years before that I was President of the Gay Straight Alliance at my high school while a gay teenager committed suicide because his religious parents told him he was headed for hell. When I talked to my legislators a decade ago, same sex civil unions were not even a legitimate discussion topic; now, we’re just a court case away from legal recognition of same sex marriage. Working as part of [marriage equality organization] and [Jewish organization], I’ve been able to see first-hand how religious members and leaders throughout the country are supporting LGBT couples. After the passage of Proposition 8, which took away the rights of same sex couples to marry in California, I organized the first-ever Jewish contingent of the [x] LGBT Pride Parade. The Jewish community stood up against thte injustice of Proposition 8 and our contingent had over 700 participants.

Judaism and life have taught me that the world is always changing and I can be part of its positive evolution. Overwhelmed and happy, I stood in the middle of the LGBT Pride Parade, surrounded by religious, straight allies and LGBT couples who felt deeply that Judaism taught them same-sex couples should have the right to marry. I thrive in the moments like these, where I can help create a better interconnected world. I am lucky to have the strength and values that make me good with details, love structures, and value thoughtful considerations, which is why I fell in love with both Judaism and law. Each provides a structure on how to treat one another and the interconnected world we live in. Each can be used as a tool for progress or decay, but should be used as a tool of empowerment.

Every Shabbat my synagogue says a prayer for peace together, envisioning a world without war, desolation, or isolation. My father sees this prayer as only relevant to politicians’ work and has thoroughly removed himself from seeing the effects of his own actions. But I see it differently. It’s one of my favorite prayers, and it’s a moment for me to reflect on my responsibilities to the community. I know of the abundance in my life and that I must share my abundance by creating a different future. The world is full of people whose voices are muted and their injustices overlooked. I know that it is possible to break unjust systems and create a community that advocates for the innocent and fosters peace. I believe in this world and I believe I can help create it.

As the prayer goes:
Let love and justice flow like a mighty stream.
Let peace fill the earth as the waters fill the sea.
And let us say: Amen

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Re: Personal Statement - critique needed

Post by CorkBoard » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:36 am

I skimmed this, and I think you may have a good topic here, but initially I thought that you were going to be talking about protecting your brother and then the transition to Judaism happened, then the LGBT topic was brought in too. I think you have a few good topics to work with, but when they're put together, it seems a little all over the place.

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