I spent some time writing news features, and I do similar writing now for my job. My first attempt at a personal statement turned out AWEFUL, which really pissed me off because I'm a damn good writer. So I picked up the novels that I had put aside in order to "free my mind" for the PS writing experience. I wrote down words I liked, phrases that evoked the tone I was looking for, etc. Then I did some writing excercises, playing with style and tone. I didn't use any of the words or phrases I wrote down in my essay, I just used them as a backboard against which to bounce my own stuff, and add the missing "flavor."
I was recently talking to a relative of mine, a journalist, who was lamenting the absense of originality in the news. He said the sports section is the only place in the paper with interesting writing styles and tones, and many journalists shift from features to sports because it allows them to be more creative. I hate reading about sports, so I never tested his theory. But if you like sports, maybe start there for inspiration?