The Starfish Personal Statement Forum

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Signal3

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The Starfish Personal Statement

Post by Signal3 » Fri Sep 09, 2022 5:18 pm

I have focused this personal statement on the time period since my last negative incident with an organization. This will allow me to focus mostly on positives, and allow me to explain the rest in a diversity statement.

Keep in mind the reason I am discussing some of these topics is due to having an academic dismissal as, a disciplinary suspension as well as a low GPA. Imo, it is necessary for adcomms to see exactly how I changed my life around, otherwise, why would they risk it? My record is too complicated to be anything short of genuine, imo.

LSAT: 165. Upper 30's. Non URM.

About six years ago I ate a can of pinto beans as my midday meal. If someone told you this, and then said they were depressed at the time, I'm guessing you would believe it. The thing about this can of pinto beans, however, was that it changed my life. For some reason, after the meal, I felt better than I had in a long time. I immediately began researching pinto beans to figure out what was in them. I noticed two key macronutrients: Protein and magnesium. Not only did I learn that protein can help regulate sugar in people with pre-diabetes, but that microminerals can help regulate mood! Researching into health journals, I even discovered that the leading mood regulator for many years, was actually just a high dose of a micromineral. I began taking micromineral supplements and researching what foods had the most microminerals in them. Ironically, it ended up being vegetables. I quickly incorporated them to my protein shakes.

Fast foward a year, and I had improved mental lucidity enough to evaluate my life at a deeper level. I began a behavioral reconstruction that I refer to as the "starfish technique." I decided there was a part of myself that I did not like, compartmentalized it, numbed it, effectively cut it off and regrew it over a period of three years. It was necessary at this time to take a lower responsibility job to allow for the healing process.
During this time I followed a life mantra I called the DNA Approach, which stood for, Diversify, Network, and Avoid the Neg.

After this period of time I was ready to get back on the horse, but I had not figured out what I wanted to do yet. I took a general manager position with my martial arts and business mentor for a startup venture located in west hollywood. This experienced helped shape my future career path in that I realized I needed a more direct impact on affecting positive change in my clients' lives to be happy.

I moved back in with family, and asked myself the question: What job would both test my abilities after improving nutrition and applying the starfish technique, offer character growth, and relate both to my psychology as well as military background? This led me to signing up as a correctional officer at a state prison.

I was not prepared the first time I was left alone. As soon as the experienced officer left the dorm and I was alone surrounded by 300 felons, many of them convicted murderers, groups in all four wings came to the windows and started pounding their fists, shouting and waving angrily for me to open the door. This was not a fun experience. As a new officer, who knows you will have to go walk through their living areas every hour, there is a serious fear that you may suffer grave bodily harm. Finally after about a month, a sergeant told me I didn't have to worry about being stabbed, because the inmates don't want to risk a life sentence. This helped a lot.

About two months in I developed a system where I would let inmates out one at a time to talk to me. Most of them wanted to trade items like chips with another inmates in another wing. This was not allowed, but I allowed this to happen for a short time, first because I had observed the sergeants letting them do it, because I did not think it was overly harmful, and because the inmates gave me significantly less problems when they benefited from me being there. They would also respond to my commands a lot faster, which resulted in me being promoted to center court control, where I gave commands to all the dorm sergeants about when to release their inmates through the center court yard on their way to eat or another appointment.

Still, I did not feel right about breaking the rules in order to gain control of the inmates, and I started to question if I was hurting my organization by doing so. A few months later after working mostly center court, I went to the academy where I graduated top of my class in academics, firears and physical fitness. Upon returning, an inmate who remembered me came up to ask me if they could pass items like before, and I in a very firm voice said, "no, I don't do that anymore." He stared in my eyes a few seconds, and then nodded and walked away. From this point on, no one ever passed items in my dorm again without being written up. I did put in extra work to make sure the inmates were taken care of, but I did it within the rules. I wish there had been more training to give me this confidence much earlier.

About a month after returning for the academy I asked to be put in the most demanding section that housed maximum security, inmates in disciplinary confinement as well as protective custody. They tested me out, I performed well, and I got the assignment. This assignment required walking about 15 miles a day, handcuffing about 50 inmates a day in order to take them to an isolated shower, and was often performed in extreme heat. Multiple times a day you would hear very loud banging, which was an inmate kicking the door as hard as possible to get the officers attention, usually to make a complaint, and often times just to ask for a trivial favor or more than likely, to wear down the officers, since a worn down officer is more likely to overlook rule breaking.

A few months later I was lead officer in the most difficult section in one of the most difficult fields. At this point, due to staffing shortage we were working mandatory overtime and nearly 60 hour weeks. On top of an hour commute each way, I began to think I had proven what I needed to, to myself, about what I could handle, and it was time to choose an actual career to stick with. A career in corrections was never something I considered for various reasons.

After extensive pro and con lists mapping out each possible career fit, I narrowed the list down to human resources and practicing law. I ordered an HR certification book, and after skimming through the book I quickly tossed it aside. There was nothing new in this book that I had not already learned in my previous fields or education. I am an explorer of knowledge at heart, and this led me to law.

I love research and have thrived as a research assistant in grad school, am fascinated by the court room and have thrived in law enforcement, and in order to make social change, as it relates to my socialpsychological background, it seems necessary to work on the front lines of the court systems as a public defender.

My dream is to work for a public defender for a few years and then join a firm specializing in criminal defense and family law eventually leading to me opening up my own practice. I want to simultaneously start a non profit that helps give insight and life meaning to clients I have defended in order to do my duty to society in helping them stay out of trouble and overcoming adversity as I have.

In life, if we have not encountered great adversity then we have not tested ourselves enough. We must not focus only on retirement, status, or comfort, but instead must focus on character growth, so that we can role model a positive influence in the evolution of our global community, and humanity.

nixy

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Re: The Starfish Personal Statement

Post by nixy » Fri Sep 09, 2022 9:25 pm

Your overall writing is good, but this is too long and too unfocused. I really don't come away from it understanding a point or message that you want to convey - it feels like a bunch of stories from your life but I'm not sure why you're telling them.

The first 4 paragraphs are really confusing presented here without context. It sounds like you're trying to explain bad stuff but we don't know what that bad stuff is (while adcomms will have the rest of your application, the essay still needs to stand alone without info from the rest of your application). If you want to address the academic dismissal, suspension, and low GPA, you're better of submitting a separate addendum rather than trying to fit them into the PS in which you can just say directly, "In [year] I was dismissed from my school on academic grounds. The reason that my grades dipped so low was [reason] and I was able to recover due to [explain about pinto beans etc]." Similarly, a disciplinary suspension is a problem and you likely need to address it directly in more detail as well.

(also, respectfully, I don't know that talking about micronutrients as mood regulators, the starfish technique, and the DNA method makes a great impression. Especially with the latter two, if you can say that these are techniques that you learned from [whatever resource] that proved to be really helpful, that's great. If you came up with them on your own outside a therapeutic context, they look a little dodgy.)

You write well about being a corrections officer but there isn't a clear narrative arc - it feels like "this happened, this happened, this happened, this happened, I decided to go to law school and I want to be a PD and go on to this kind of a firm." The jump from "here's me working as a CO" to "I wrote up pros and cons and landed on HR and law" is pretty jarring, and the pros/cons to HR/law is entirely unexplained - many people would write up lists of pros/cons and NOT end up with HR/law as the two final choices - what were you looking for? what do you consider pros and cons? and how does this fit with working as a CO apart from first you did the one thing, then you did the other?

(The last paragraph feels like entirely generic filler, to be honest - it could relate to an essay on almost any topic.)

I don't mean this to be harsh - you have a good command of writing (not everyone does) and I think there are interesting elements to what you present, it's just a little all over the place and would benefit from a much tighter focus.

Signal3

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Re: The Starfish Personal Statement

Post by Signal3 » Fri Sep 09, 2022 10:17 pm

nixy wrote:
Fri Sep 09, 2022 9:25 pm
Your overall writing is good, but this is too long and too unfocused. I really don't come away from it understanding a point or message that you want to convey - it feels like a bunch of stories from your life but I'm not sure why you're telling them.

The first 4 paragraphs are really confusing presented here without context. It sounds like you're trying to explain bad stuff but we don't know what that bad stuff is (while adcomms will have the rest of your application, the essay still needs to stand alone without info from the rest of your application). If you want to address the academic dismissal, suspension, and low GPA, you're better of submitting a separate addendum rather than trying to fit them into the PS in which you can just say directly, "In [year] I was dismissed from my school on academic grounds. The reason that my grades dipped so low was [reason] and I was able to recover due to [explain about pinto beans etc]." Similarly, a disciplinary suspension is a problem and you likely need to address it directly in more detail as well.

(also, respectfully, I don't know that talking about micronutrients as mood regulators, the starfish technique, and the DNA method makes a great impression. Especially with the latter two, if you can say that these are techniques that you learned from [whatever resource] that proved to be really helpful, that's great. If you came up with them on your own outside a therapeutic context, they look a little dodgy.)

You write well about being a corrections officer but there isn't a clear narrative arc - it feels like "this happened, this happened, this happened, this happened, I decided to go to law school and I want to be a PD and go on to this kind of a firm." The jump from "here's me working as a CO" to "I wrote up pros and cons and landed on HR and law" is pretty jarring, and the pros/cons to HR/law is entirely unexplained - many people would write up lists of pros/cons and NOT end up with HR/law as the two final choices - what were you looking for? what do you consider pros and cons? and how does this fit with working as a CO apart from first you did the one thing, then you did the other?

(The last paragraph feels like entirely generic filler, to be honest - it could relate to an essay on almost any topic.)

I don't mean this to be harsh - you have a good command of writing (not everyone does) and I think there are interesting elements to what you present, it's just a little all over the place and would benefit from a much tighter focus.
Thank you. I guess I am relying on a lot of implied assumptions by the reader. Like if I say "i radically improved my nutrition" i would hope the reader would automatically associate that with an improvement in mental health, and a higher productivity and consistency level.

If I mentioned a starfish technique, I would hope the reader would associate it with any behavioral change model they have ever learned about, since they all share somewhat of the same foundation.

I went through schooling to become a mental health counselor and practiced as a student intern. It may be possible that I really need to be much more clear about what life circumstances and mental health related issues I was going through resulted in a trend of inconsistency and some deviance, and how I overcame that in a much clearer manner. I just want to be very careful that I am not overly clarifying to the degree that it takes away from another implied message I want to convey, that I have a creative entrepreneurial spirit.

Now if I do end up putting the positive change stuff in addendums more than the statement, I may end up just focusing more on the correctional officer stuff, since people seem to enjoy that the most.

Signal3

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Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2022 8:26 pm

Re: The Starfish Personal Statement

Post by Signal3 » Fri Sep 09, 2022 10:36 pm

nixy wrote:
Fri Sep 09, 2022 9:25 pm
Your overall writing is good, but this is too long and too unfocused. I really don't come away from it understanding a point or message that you want to convey - it feels like a bunch of stories from your life but I'm not sure why you're telling them.

The first 4 paragraphs are really confusing presented here without context. It sounds like you're trying to explain bad stuff but we don't know what that bad stuff is (while adcomms will have the rest of your application, the essay still needs to stand alone without info from the rest of your application). If you want to address the academic dismissal, suspension, and low GPA, you're better of submitting a separate addendum rather than trying to fit them into the PS in which you can just say directly, "In [year] I was dismissed from my school on academic grounds. The reason that my grades dipped so low was [reason] and I was able to recover due to [explain about pinto beans etc]." Similarly, a disciplinary suspension is a problem and you likely need to address it directly in more detail as well.

(also, respectfully, I don't know that talking about micronutrients as mood regulators, the starfish technique, and the DNA method makes a great impression. Especially with the latter two, if you can say that these are techniques that you learned from [whatever resource] that proved to be really helpful, that's great. If you came up with them on your own outside a therapeutic context, they look a little dodgy.)

You write well about being a corrections officer but there isn't a clear narrative arc - it feels like "this happened, this happened, this happened, this happened, I decided to go to law school and I want to be a PD and go on to this kind of a firm." The jump from "here's me working as a CO" to "I wrote up pros and cons and landed on HR and law" is pretty jarring, and the pros/cons to HR/law is entirely unexplained - many people would write up lists of pros/cons and NOT end up with HR/law as the two final choices - what were you looking for? what do you consider pros and cons? and how does this fit with working as a CO apart from first you did the one thing, then you did the other?

(The last paragraph feels like entirely generic filler, to be honest - it could relate to an essay on almost any topic.)

I don't mean this to be harsh - you have a good command of writing (not everyone does) and I think there are interesting elements to what you present, it's just a little all over the place and would benefit from a much tighter focus.
It does not seem like I am able to edit on these forums. After some further consideration, your feedback is definitely sufficient enough for me to write the next draft. Thank you very much. This should take 2-3 days. I'll be back! I may label it "Starfish personal statement 3," however, I will likely not include the starfish technique next draft, haha :).

Thanks again.

nixy

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Re: The Starfish Personal Statement

Post by nixy » Sat Sep 10, 2022 9:24 am

Yeah, while over-explanation is a risk, generally, relying on reader assumptions is dangerous. To me, improving your nutrition is improving your nutrition, and doesn't necessarily imply an improvement in mental health, productivity, and focus - maybe that's just me, but you can't control what your reader brings to the page and therefore what they will assume. More than that, though, based on this essay, your reader has no idea that/whether you've been struggling with mental health/productivity/focus, and therefore why this can of pinto beans is such a pivotal point in your life. Like you talk about what you did and then "getting back on the horse," but the reader doesn't know that you were off the horse to begin with.

But I'm sure you'll turn this into something good!

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