« on: October 28, 2009, 11:17:48 AM »
Hey, just hoping for any and all feedback on my first draft personal statement. Also, let me know if you would like me to comment on yours, Thanks in Advance.
As soon as we exited the plane, I in my father’s arms and my older siblings close behind, my mother rushed to shower us with kisses as tears of joy clung to her cheeks. My mother had escaped Poland with my oldest brother a year earlier, while my father stayed behind the Iron Curtain with my siblings until we had a chance to escape. We were finally reunited. Only four years old, I had no idea how incredibly fortunate I was to begin a new life in the US; I wouldn’t have to worry about being forced to work in a Siberian labor camp, as my father had, or feel the terror of seeing foreign soldiers and tanks in the streets, as my mother had.
Our new life wasn’t easy, however. Our family was lucky to have (just) enough food on the table, but not much else. This may have been a blessing because my six siblings and I would never have come to a conclusion on how to divide the spoils; my lone sister would argue that the prettiest family member should get it, my five older brothers would be content with going to fisticuffs over it, while I would argue that since I was the last-born our parents finally got it right with me and, hence, I deserved the prize. Despite the hardships, much good came from my circumstances growing up. My parents didn’t have the time nor the ability to help me succeed in school—they worked constantly and neither of them graduated high school— so I had to rely on myself to get through school, which helped develop my self reliance and a love of learning.
Unfortunately, not everything I experienced growing up strengthened me. I acquired the idea that only other people—whoever they were—could succeed. My parents carried this attitude as an artifact of the oppression they suffered and I, in turn, adopted it from them. My mother still says, in slightly broken English, “Some people just have the talent.” when referring to those ‘other’ people who are out making a difference in the world. So, after graduating high school I took this attitude into college and performed dismally for three semesters before dropping out. For over two years I worked dead end jobs without any goals or ambitions and without improving myself. My yearning to return to an atmosphere where I could exchange and discuss ideas with others prompted me to return to college, where I met two people who helped me shed my noxious attitude toward success: Dr. XXXX and Dr. XXXX.
On the first day of his Business Management class XXX paced around the room excitedly discussing the group notebook we would work on the entire semester and the tests we would take as a group and average with our individual test grade. My whole life I had learned to count on myself, and I began to worry about working with, and trusting, others on a project that would affect my grade. Thanks to Dr. XXX inspiration and confidence in me, however, I overcame my initial apprehension and became comfortable working with my team and eventually assumed a leadership role by scheduling meetings and delegating work for our project. Some of my teammates even conferred on me the title of ‘CEO’ of our team. Our hard work paid off when our notebook was posted in the library as a benchmark that future classes could look to as an example of excellence. In Dr. XXX’s class I also had the opportunity to overcome my public speaking anxiety; any student who made an A on a test had to stand in front of the class and discuss how they studied to get their grade and I made sure that I was speaking after every test. With the confidence that I was gaining by these small successes I began to set goals for myself, something I had not done before.
One of my new goals was to publish a paper, so I contacted Dr. XXXX about working on a psychological research project with him. With Dr. XXX’s guidance and support I was able to greatly improve my research and writing skills during this project. Dr. Osborne teamed me up with several other students to work on setting up an experiment, running participants, analyzing the results, and writing up a paper on our findings. With my experience from Dr. XXX’s class I felt comfortable collaborating with the team on these tasks. I outlined how we would collect data from research participants and helped recruit students to participate in the study. After the experiment was run I took input from the group and did a majority of the research and writing of our paper. The intellectual challenge of integrating past research into our paper, incorporating my team members’ ideas, and writing up our results was an extremely difficult but satisfying intellectual challenge. I have continued to be actively involved in the project, editing our paper in an effort to publish it in the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research.
In the past three years I have achieved many of the goals I set for myself: I graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Psychology (the first person in my family to earn a degree), I wrote a research paper which may be published soon, and I interned for a semester with the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., all while working full time to pay for my education. My next goal is to attend the University of Chicago Law School where I can continue to fulfill my potential. The Law School is known for its passion for knowledge in itself, a passion which I share. But, just as importantly, my background makes me aware that ideas have consequences. By attaining a legal education I will be able to satisfy my passion for learning while at the same time gaining the skills necessary to make a tangible impact on the lives of others.