Thursday, January 20, 2011

Personal Statement

If everything goes as planned, this fall I will be beginning a Master program in Social Work. I'm in the process of applying now. Filling out applications, reaching out to people to write me recommendation letters, ordering transcripts and submitting a personal statement. The statement is by far the hardest part of the process. It has to be perfect, as it is the largest tool I have to persuade admission councils to let me in to their program. I never imagined that describing why I want to be a social worker, what I bring to the profession and why I want to go to grad school now would be so hard but it has. I've been working on it since late October and only now is it complete, at least for the first school I applied to (Columbia School of Social Work). I'll say its largely completed, a few tweaks will be made per school. Anyway here is an excerpt of my statement to Columbia; two of my best paragraphs I think. The first is close to the beginning of the statement and the second is the closing paragraph.

As child, I never dreamed that I would be given the opportunity to apply to graduate school. My life and future were filled with uncertainty because my life was uncertain; I never knew how long I would be at a certain school or living in the neighborhood. I never knew if I would be able to stay with my siblings or if I would ever see my parents again. For nine turbulent years this was my life as a foster child, I worried that I would have to switch foster homes and start all over again. I wondered about my various social workers and if they even cared. This changed for me when I was 14 and met the couple who would eventually adopt me 2 years later. Adoption opened up a whole new world for me, a worry free one, filled with opportunities. This new found stability allowed me to think about the future, and I was faced with unlimited possibilities. Many children in foster care are not as fortunate, and become victims of the failures of the child welfare. When this happens those children are at risk for psychological problems, school drop-out, delinquency and risky living choices leading to uncertain futures likely to end in prison or with an untimely death. The failures of child welfare systems are not only detrimental to the children they are suppose to serve but to society as well. I was able to avoid this fate because I was granted the privilege of adoption. However, I firmly believe that adoption should not only be a privilege, but a viable option to dramatically change the life outcomes of foster children. As a social worker and administrator in the field, I want to be a champion for foster children and for adoption from foster care. The best way to do this is to reach a level in which I can influence this process and write effective policies and strategies in regards to foster care and adoption. This is no dream; this can be reality. I have an opportunity to manifest this reality, an opportunity I feel a personal responsibility to accept.

My preparation must continue at the graduate level and so I am seeking admittance to your program. A Masters in Social Work from the Columbia University School of Social Work would be the highest level of preparation to support these ambitions. The Policy Practice concentration is of particular interest as it incorporates policy and research, providing a training and  learning environment where I will develop the skills necessary to be able to become an agent of change for  foster children and to become a successful policy writer and, leader or Commissioner of ACS. Although an ambitious and challenging path, I continue to dream and imagine the possibilities, and I take my responsibility to play an active part in my society, seriously.  All dreams can be achieved with the proper preparation, and I firmly believe that the educational and training opportunities at Columbia University School of Social Work will provide me with the foundation and guidance necessary to pursue my career path and will serve as the first steps towards achieving my goals.

This has got to get me into Columbia right?