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UW Personal Statement - Environmental Science Major

cj409 1 / 2  
Aug 17, 2010   #1
Hi all,
This is my first stab. My problem is I have too much to say. I've kept the first draft within limits - after hacking away some parts. I tried to stick to a theme, but could use some feedback, especially on the ending. Thanks for your help!

And Here's my essay:

I can not say I always knew what I wanted to do with my life. It really was not until the last five years ago that things started to congeal. But in reflection, I realize that my experiences were leading me towards the goals I have today.

My career goal involves farming; a novel idea to my friends and family since I have little actual farming experience. But over the last five years my interest in living healthily, my desire for a strong community and my enjoyment of working with others has come together to support one goal. I want to see food grown sustainably, without the use of petroleum products and chemical pesticides and herbicides; food that is both good for us and the environment; food that is grown locally by a collaboration of communities with farmers. But most importunately, I want to see organic food that is competitively priced so that even the lower classes of our society have a choice about what they eat.

Until three years ago I never had bitten into an organic apple, or anything else organic. Growing up I was shuffled back and forth between my divorced parents. My mother was often too busy to cook anything other than mac n' cheese or, if we were lucky, she would bring home a happy meal. When at my dad's house I was left to cook for myself and my younger siblings since he left for work before I got up for school and came home shortly before I went to bed. Both of my parents were limited by the low incomes they made. The poor diet took a toll on me and my siblings, but especially my younger sister. She was born with numerous medical complications and is both physically and mentally developmentally disabled. Her thyroid barely functions, leaving her metabolism extremely slow. The poor diet we ate only exasperated the situation and she quickly became obese.

I have not always been so obsessed with food though; that developed later in life. Before food I had a passion for the environment and the community. I developed my interests in both the environment and my local community after entering an alternative education program. In the seventh grade I entered Vashon Island's student link program. There I met Yve Susskind, a counselor and advisor for the program whose eagerness to help me succeed proved inspirational. She introduced me to the Vashon Island Youth Council where I was exposed to the idea of service learning. I quickly embraced the idea of getting an education while working to improve your community. I had a knack for organizing and communicating and put it to work addressing issues like teen drug use and homelessness on the island. I participated in adult-youth conferences, acting as a representative for teens and an intermediary between adults and my peers. Perhaps the highlight of my academic achievements was when I was awarded a scholarship to attend a service learning conference in Denver Colorado.

But at home, family life remained tough. After a failed marriage, my mother struggled to find a good job. We found ourselves poorer than ever and more than once homeless. I used my involvement in the community as a distraction and spent little time at home; accept when I needed to watch my younger siblings for my mom. I planned on entering Running Start and started thinking about what I would do with my life.

Thing abruptly changed one November morning. I received a phone call from my best friend's sister. Through sobs she explained she had found her sister - my friend - hanging from the basement stairs. She had killed herself. I was 15, she had been 14. I did not know how to deal with the pain. The brick wall I had carefully erected around my emotions from my tough childhood went tumbling down. I couldn't smooth this event over in my head like I had done when we had been homeless, when my mom was too drunk to drive us home from school or when I found out the reason why I had not seen my dad in four years was because he had once again become addicted to cocaine.

I withdrew from everyone and everything I knew. My participation with the Youth council and community organizations slowly dropped away. I kept at my academics, but not without the same vigor and eagerness. I got a job and started finding my own feet. I soon met my husband to-be and moved off Vashon Island.

Five years pass. I work my way up into a decent office job. But I'm not challenged. I contemplate going to college for accounting, or some other vocational training. But nothing strikes that internal chord. On a trip to Vashon Island on my 22nd birthday I visit Lisabuella, a public beach on the west side of the island. My husband and I are graced with a magnificent sunset. In that moment something connects. A light went off in my head. I needed to do something that involved both the environment and the community, because that is what has always made me the happiest.

While still working full time I enrolled in community college in the Fall of 2007. I am graduating with honors from Bellevue College in the Fall of 2010 with my associate in arts and sciences. Since returning to school it has always been my intention to attend the University of Washington. Few colleges are as recognized for their environmental program as your university. Attending the UW ensures I receive the best education possible while allowing me to stay near my family and continue my current job, which is required for me to afford tuition. My goal is to fix our food production system and to provide the choice of organic, healthy foods to lower and middle income communities. With an education from the University of Washington's School of Forest Resources with a major in Environmental Science and Resource Management I have no doubt that I will have the skills I need to affect the change I seek.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Aug 19, 2010   #2
But most importunately, I want to see organic food that is competitively priced so that even the lower classes of our society have a choice about what they eat.

Awesome. I hope your AO reader is a person well-read enough to appreciate these concepts. Something I wonder for you, though, is whether you will be DOING something you want to DO every day.

I had a thought while reading this that you might like to get a degree in nutrition as well, because... well, I don't know why. I keep having the thought that you would like to learn about nutrition, even though you also want to learn about farming.

Okay, I have very little to say about this, because it speaks for itself! Go make a big splash and benefit lots of people. We are lucky to have you taking action for health and the environment.

"with" 2 times in a row is awkward...
With an education from the University of Washington's School of Forest Resources with and a major ...

Use an action verb:
I have no doubt that I will have gain the skills I need to affect the change I seek.
OP cj409 1 / 2  
Aug 19, 2010   #3
Thank you for your help Kevin. I actually did think about nutrition at one time, but after looking into our food production system I discovered our government policies and regulations are greatly at fault for the glut of cheap processed food. We subsidize the ingrediants found in candy and pop, but not broccolli or apples. Economics end up forcing lower income people to choose the unhealthy foods.

I should probably be getting a degree in law, political science and economics too! ;o)

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