PERSONAL STATEMENT ESSAY
PERSONAL STATEMENT AS A THEME OF YOUR ENTIRE APPLICATION.
- GIVE IT AT LEAST 3 MONTHS TO WRITE.
- LET A REASONABLE NUMBER OF PEOPLE READ YOUR ESSAY AND MAKE SUGGESTIONS. DON’T BE CARRIED AWAY BY EVERY SUGGESTION EVERY READER MAKES.
1. LET AN ENGLISH PROFESSOR REVIEW THE ESSAY SOLELY FOR WORD CHOICE AND GRAMMAR MISTAKES.
2. DO NOT RELY SOLELY ON SPELLCHECK. ALWAYS RELY ON HUMAN EYES TO PROOFREAD YOUR ESSAY AND MAKE SURE IT IS ERROR FREE.
BRAINSTORMING IS CRUCIAL!!!
1. If you are having a difficult time deciding on a topic, think of stories first.
2. Try focused free writing.
1. Avoid the Resume Approach
A. Avoid “I have always dreamed of becoming a lawyer”
2. Avoid the “Why I Want to Go to Law School” Essay
3. Avoid the “I Want to Save the World” Essay
4. Avoid Talking about Your Negatives
5. Don’t Be Too Personal
A. Be careful with protestations of high ideals. If you can’t back them up with hard evidence, they’re bound to come off sounding empty and insincere
6. Watch the Use of Fancy Vocabulary
7. Don’t Discuss Legal Concepts
8. Avoid Immature Subjects
9. Don’t Put Down Lawyers or the Legal Profession
10. Shy Away from the Bizarre
11. Don’t Try to Cover Too Many Subjects
1. Tell Stories
2. Make It Interesting
3. Be Funny-If You Can Pull It Off
4. Start with a Great Lead
5. Be “Unique”
6. Have a General Theme
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Express Opinions
8. Tailor Your Statement to a Particular Law School
9. Open Up a Little
WRITING STRONG ESSAYS ON TEST DAY
PART 1: THE WRITING PROCESS
Your writing will come out stronger when you start with a plan, write out your ideas, and then revise and edit your work.
PLANNING STAGE IS ESSENTIAL
Prewriting - 5-7 minutes.
- UNDERSTAND THE SCENARIO.
EITHER CHOICE CAN BE SUPPORTED BASED ON THE INFORMATION PROVIDED. EVALUATE THE CRITERIA.
- BRAINSTORM IDEAS.
A. LISTING. LIST PROS AND CONS OF EACH CHOICE.
B. FREE WRITING. FREE NARRATIVE RESPONSE.
- NEXT, OUTLINE YOUR ESSAY. 2 GOALS:
(1) PLACE THEM INTO A LOGICAL ORDER AND (2) ENSURE THAT YOU HAVE ENOUGH SUPPORT FOR THE COURSE OF ACTION YOU PLAN TO SUPPORT IN YOUR ESSAY.
A WELL-ORGANIZED OUTLINE = WELL-ORGANIZED ESSAY.
The essay must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
In the middle, your supporting ideas must be arranged in some logical sequence, even if there is no logical necessity to that sequence.
2 OF THE MOST COMMON FORMATS FOR THE WRITING SAMPLE:
1) “WINNER/LOSER” FORMAT (intro – why winner – why loser – conclusion)
2) “ACCORDING TO THE CRITERIA” FORMAT (intro – 1st criteria both winner and loser discussion – 2nd criteria both winner and loser discussion – conclusion)
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE “WINNER/LOSER” FORMAT:
1. Intro: Bloom Ct is the better location for the Peters.
a. Minimal moving expenses.
b. Uninterrupted business for customers.
c. Low initial rent.
d. Long term growth when needed – Peters can save money for expansion at later date.
2. Town and Country Mall not ideal.
a. High traffic from prime location might seem better for long term growth.
b. High rent could off-set any growth making short term survival difficult.
c. The space may initially be too large.
d. Need to court new customers because location is not easily accessible from downtown.
3. Conclusion: reaffirm position.
WRITING YOUR ESSAY
INTRODUCTIONS: GET OFF TO A STRONG START.
1. GRAB THE READER’S ATTENTION.
2. STATE CLEARLY YOUR THESIS OR POSITION.
THE FIRST SENTENCE SHOULD IMMEDIATELY OFFER A STATEMENT OF YOUR POSITION.
DO NOT DESCRIBE THE SCENARIO: ASSUME THAT READERS ARE FAMLIAR WITH THE SITUATION.
WRITING STONG PARAGRAPHS:
A GROUP OF SENTENCES ABOUT A SINGLE IDEA.
- BE AS CLEAR AND OBVIOUS AS POSSIBLE.
DEVELOPING IDEAS: AIM FOR THREE-TO-FIVE SENTENCE PARAGRAPHS THROUGHOUT YOUR ESSAY:
1 – TOPIC SENTENCE
2 OR 3 – EVIDENCE OR SPECIFIC EXAMPLE
1 OR 2 – REFUTING COUNTERARGUMENTS OR PROVIDING A TRANSITION INTO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH.
THE ONLY EXCEPTION IS THE CONCLUSION: NO NEW IDEAS, LESS SENTENCES.
WRITING YOUR ESSAY LEVELS:
I. MACRO-ORGANIZATION (OVERALL ORGANZING PRINCIPLE OF YOUR ESSAY)
II. MESO-ORGANIZATION (INTERMEDIATE, PARAGRAPH LEVEL)
III. MICRO- ORGANIZATION (SENTENCE LEVEL)
1. Paragraph unity = SINGLE COHERENT IDEA.
2. Topic sentence.
3. Transitional Phrases BETWEEN and WITHIN the paragraph.
1. Restate your main idea.
2. Briefly summarize your main support.
REVISING AND EDITING YOUR ESSAY
LEAVE 3 TO 5 MINUTES AT THE END.
MACRO-ORGANIZATION, I.E., BIG PICTURE CHECK LIST:
- STATE IDEAS ASSERTIVELY AND CLEALY
- DEVELOP YOUR IDEAS FULLY
- ORGANIZE YOUR IDEAS LOGICALLY
- STAY FOCUSED
- SIGNPOST CONSTANTLY
MAXIMS I - VIII
MAXIM VIII: BE EXCITING
Whatever you actually say in your essay, how you say it can have a significant impact on how impressed admissions officers are with your writing.
VARIETY IN SENTENCE STRUCTURE
INCORPORATE AND ORNAMENT YOUR WRITING WITH A VARIETY OF:
- Simple (one main clause) sentence
- Compound (two or more main clauses) sentence
- Complex (one main clause, one subordinate clause) sentence
- Compound-complex (two or more main clauses, plus at least one subordinate clause) sentence
Varying sentence length throughout creates a more pleasing rhythm for your readers.
Start with an introductory opener (phrase)
Use varied vocabulary
EIGHT MAXIMS, TO RECAP:
1. Be correct
2. Be clear
3. Be concise
4. Be exact
5. Be appropriate
6. Be consistent
7. Be assertive
8. Be exciting
Brief Logic Primer:
Logic is a key factor in writing an effective argument. Admission officers are looking for logical organization in your essays.
Here are the main logic notions:
- Claim. An assertion that is ether true or false.
- Argument. A set of claims with a premise(s) and conclusion.
- Conclusion. Main claim of the argument.
- Premise. Claims that support the argument.
Use indicator to identify either conclusion or premise.
- False dilemmas. Choice between only two possible options.
- Overstated Generalization.
A. Broad statement about a specific group.
B. Superlative (e.g., the most important).
C. Aphoristism (avoid proverbs).
- Appeal to Authority. An argument based on anonymous authority (like based on hearsay).
- Inductive Fallacies. Drawing inference about a population as a whole.
- Hasty Generalization. The sample size is too small to serve as a basis for the conclusion.
- Unrepresentative Sample. Sample that differs in significant ways from the population as a whole.
- False Analogy. Two terms of comparison differ in such a way as to invalidate the inferred commonality.
- Causal Fallacies. Post Hoc, Propter Hoc. The fallacious assumption is that because X came before Y, it caused Y.
X and Y might have independent causes.
X and Y might have the same cause.
X might have been only one of several causes.
- Genuine but insignificant. Putting tooth weight on a real but insignificant cause.
- The fallacy of exclusion. A valid argument must consider all relevant information.
- Slippery Slope. If/then scenario.
Summing Up: The Bones of a Sentence
1. Whenever you can, use specific verbs, adverbs, or adjectives rather than abstract nouns to express actions and conditions.
For example, the intention of the committee is the encouragement if improvement in company morale.
This committee intends to improve company morale.
2. Don't feel constrained to change nominalizations into verbs or adjectives on the following occasions:
A. The nominalization is close to the end of the sentence or clause and you already have a strong verb:
There is a need on our part for your cooperation.
We need your cooperation.
B. The nominalization sums up an idea in a preceding sentence:
Analyses of this kind invariably produce results that are misleading.
C. Eliminating a nominalization would require a phrase beginning with the fact that or a what-clause:
His presence was a factor in our decision.
NOT: the fact that he was present was a factor in what we decided.
3. Generally, try to make the specific agent of an action the subject. This often means avoiding nominalizations and passives:
A refusal in your part to accept the decision will be reviewed committtee-wise.
If you refuse to accept the decision, the committee will review your action.
4. Don't feel constrained to change passives into actives under these conditions:
A. The agent is irrelevant:
When a house is adequately insulated, the owner will save money.
B. The goal of the action is the consistent topic of consecutive clauses:
When students are required to take particular courses, they sometimes feel as if they are being treated like children. And if they are so burdened by required courses that they cannot choose electives that interest them, they can be expected to rebel.
5. Avoid stringing nouns into compound noun phrases:
Teacher evaluation form construction is difficult.
It is difficult to construct forms for the evaluation of teachers.
4-STEP WRITING METHOD:
Writing Sample is a out showing that you can formulate an argument and write it down.
WRITE YOUR ESSAY
Open your essay by stating your position. Move on clearly identifying examples supporting your position. Then, address and refute the counter argument. In the final paragraph, restate your position.
PROOFREAD YOUR ESSAY
1. Been the lookout of spelling and punctuation errors
2. Check for missing words
Use timer for 35 minutes
Write after a long day of classes of work
PREPARE A TEMPLATE
1. Winner/Loser Format
Objectives: Clearly identify the course of action that you have identified as the "winner" and that you will support in the essay. Provide two to three examples in support of your position.
Objective: identify the "loser" and acknowledge and refute counter arguments.
Objective: Reaffirm your support of the "winner"and summarize the main points of support.
II. According the Criteria Format
Objective: open by staging the course of action that you will support.
Objective: Provide examples of how each course of action meets, or does not meet, the second criterion,
Objective: Reaffirm your position and summarize the main points of support.
I peered over my toes at the water streaming fifty feet down to the muddy pool below me and felt a queer beat in my stomach. For half an hour I had hiked a steep incline up to the cliff in flip-flops. Clinging tenaciously to the footpads, I skipped across small creeks, pulled myself up with the aid of jutting rocks and tree roots, and swung across gaps in the path on branches. But as I stood on the cliff, barefoot now, I forgot my strenuous climb and remembered that every step was taken for one reason - to jump. So I stilled the fear bouncing in my stomach, counted to three, hurled my body into the air, and fell.
I have been climbing uphill in flip-flops all my life. While I am aware that everybody climbs hills and faces obstacles in their lives, I also believe that the success of those battles may well be based on the foundation upon which one walks - how firm and supportive it is. As I look back, I realize that the challenges I have faced have enabled me to find a strong footing within a situation that was not altogether stable.
As a ten year old I grappled with panic attacks and even ulcers, a physical manifestation of the fear, guilt, and anxiety I felt primarily as a result of my father, an alcoholic, manic depressive, and sexually abusive man. Though I do have a few positive childhood memories of our motorcycle rides and camping trips, they are unfortunately surrounded and superseded by the majority of my experiences with him. Before I attended therapy and biofeedback sessions in fifth grade, the best way I knew to cope with my intense and disturbing feelings was to imagine them away. Every night before falling asleep I would fold my body tightly together and construct a world in which my father did not exist. He disappeared in a variety of ways - a chance fire, a freak accident, an unexplainable vanishing. In his place would appear a new gentle and supportive father. With these images I wooed myself to sleep every night, but the following morning I would again awake to the reality of my life. Eventually my coping mechanism became insufficient, and I began seeing a counselor.
Quickly this woman taught me to transform my paralyzing fears into a determined drive for success. With this skill learned, my life and my feelings about it improved immeasurably. My relationship with my father changed dramatically resulting from both a change in his behaviors and a change in my responses. Now, my drive for success is no longer fueled by a need to transform my life into something more positive, but rather a desire to continue its trajectory. I am the first person in my immediate family to attend and graduate from college, which I was able to do with the assistance of various academic scholarships. Due to my 64 hour/week job working with developmentally disabled individuals, I have been financially independent from my mother since my first step onto campus. In addition I have been able to financially assist my younger sister who now attends college. Most importantly, I have developed into a woman I am proud of -thoughtful, determined, compassionate, and forgiving, even of my father. I know now that though he has left an indelibly negative imprint on my life, he has also prompted a positive one.
After so many struggles, I'm now emotionally and mentally ready for new hills to climb and new pools to jump into, one of which I hope will be law school. I believe that with my now developed determination I will be able to successfully complete law school and with my heightened sense of compassion I will be able to assist those who, like me, perhaps began life with a shoddy foundation. As for me, my footwear is finally more supportive and sturdy. I've transformed my flip-flops into hiking boots.
With his slicked-back hair, boyish grin, and flashy faux diamond earrings, Patrick sported the kind of deceptively confident look you would not expect on someone in such dire standing. You see Patrick had the misfortune of traveling on the wrong side of not one but two sets of laws, Florida law, as enforced by the juvenile justice system, and street law, as enforced by a notorious Miami-based gang. The gang had allegedly sought retribution for some unidentified transgression, and judging by the bruising along his arms, chest, and neck, I could tell he wasn’t speaking in jest. But there was more.
His psychosocial assessment and intake impressions were, to be perfectly blunt, troubling. Single-mother home, two brothers, both in prison, multiple priors, and a laundry list of other risk factors including learning disabilities, gang involvement, and recreational drug use. Relative to the median client sent for diversion programming, Patrick’s case file was a sociological “perfect storm”. My familiarity with his file aside, I had not met Patrick. As I was going to be facilitating his anger management training over the next five weeks, I wanted to get to know him beyond the manila folder of jargon and legalese which effectively distill all of our clients into a series of Likert scales, checkboxes, and free-response fields. This was, after all, social work. I began by asking about his background, interests, and anything else of significance he wanted to share with me. An all-too-familiar quiet filled our cramped space.
Like many clients at their first face-to-face session, Patrick met my invitation for small talk with a contemptuous glare and a concomitant silence. So I preempted his snub with a discussion of videogames, a safe bet for conversation among 16-year-old males of all stripes, and a field I had worked in and actually knew quite a bit about. I then disclosed why he was receiving anger management training, what the state required of him during his three month diversion, and, more broadly, how the confluence of his many risk factors served as a strong predictor for graduated criminal offenses and a more precarious life course.
Patrick became enraged. Perhaps it was the simple matter-of-factness with which I proceeded to educate Patrick about his reality that ignited his fury. Or perhaps he was merely irritable and I had unknowingly stepped in the face of inevitability. In either case, his rebuke inadvertently provided me with an elegantly simple and lucid insight into the morally ambiguous world in which he lives:
[Spanish slang], you don’t get it. I hit [the kid] and I get sent here for three months. I don’t hit him and I have Latin Kings on me. You say ‘chemical dependence’? I got sucker punched today and I didn’t even do anything. What would you do?
I was thrown. Despite training in solutions-oriented therapy, a thesis on juvenile delinquency, and four years of education from two of the finest universities in the country … I had no clue how to answer his question. And he knew it. He had sized me up, exposed the irreparable chasm separating our worlds, and, in effect, showed me how little I really knew—or could offer him.
I left feeling hollow and defeated. Even as I recognized that Patrick had presented me with a zero-sum proposition, I could not help but feel as if the integrity of my knowledge and my competency as a counselor had been justifiably called into question. I expressed my doubts to my co-workers. They cautioned against drawing too many inferences from one session and assured me that I had met the standard of care. Their confidence aside, I fully expected Patrick would request another counselor or, more likely, be so uncooperative as to require his being kicked-back to the state attorney. I had consciously written us both off.
When Patrick showed up the following week, sat down without hesitation, and demonstrated readiness to begin the session, I decided to interpret his gesture as a pardon of my misstep. Even if I still lacked his trust, I had learned very early in this line of work to suspend judgment and always err in favor of compassion. I admitted to Patrick that although I could not relate to his situation and was wrong to indicate otherwise, I could help him graduate this program and thereby avoid any permanent juvenile record. So I proceeded to counsel Patrick to the best of my ability. I offered him unconditional positive regard, consistent eye contact, an active ear, and an open mind. I got off my soapbox entirely and kept our meetings purposeful, rarely deviating from the topic at hand and issuing opinion only when it seemed especially relevant. Over our five weeks together, I learned what set him off, what he responded to, and what he really valued. And I did my best in our limited time together to connect these insights to the tools Patrick would need to exist less violently in a violent world.
For his part, and despite all the chaos around him, Patrick generally cooperated and appeared to derive some limited benefit from our discussions. In our meetings together as in life, he continued to find some way to stay above water, never quite able to advance against the upward current, but never giving up too much ground either. And when the time came for Patrick to leave, I extended my hand in friendship, wished him well, and joked that I hoped we would not meet again—at least not professionally.
Months have passed; neither I nor the other counselors know what has become of Patrick. In truth, his many persisting risk factors foreshadow greater future legal troubles, a prediction supported by both my academic background and clinical training. But Patrick has already shown me the danger in treating these foundations as articles of faith, and, likewise, that even as our options are narrowed and indeed dwarfed by forces beyond our control, there is dignity in simply making the best of a bad situation. I can only hope that, just as before, Patrick will keep his head above water long enough to escape his troubles, and that he’ll find his way to the other end, wearing his oversized smile, slicked-back curls, and diamond stud earrings, advancing towards a better life.
My experiences working with Patrick and other youths like him naturally inform my interest in pursuing a career in the law. Even as I do not apologize for my desire to toil in the world of ideas, I realize that ideas offer little value in isolation. The law provides an ideal compromise, a field which permits journey into the abstract even as it is inexorably grounded by the practical hardships of those invoking it. It is precisely because the black letter of the law exists in a dialog with human experience that I believe I not only stand to gain tremendously from its study but will also be able to contribute much as well. Indeed, whether it has been helping draft policy papers on behalf of Katrina victims, coordinating ongoing education for California’s prisoners, or working with youths like Patrick, I have been profoundly sensitized to the suffering of ordinary people whose day-to-day struggles orient my worldview and compel my pursuit of social justice. In law school, I look to build upon, draw from, and ultimately refine my perspective and in so doing lay the foundation for a practice of law guided by humility and compassion.
I drop a pen on the floor and say, “This pen has not hit the floor.” Obviously it has, and my students glare at me like I am trying and failing to hypnotize them. I would have an easier time peddling a bottle of miracle-cure-for-acne to these skeptical high school and college students. But I push on: I lift the pen theatrically, letting it hover mid-air, and ask, “The pen crossed the halfway point between my hand and the floor, right?” I wait till I see a few reluctant nods and then kneel. “And halfway of the remaining distance? And halfway of that halfway? And halfway of that?” I look around as I slice the air with my pen, and I know I’ve got a few of them. I have learned to reserve the most revealing line until the end: “What happens when you keep dividing a number in half?”
That is my dramatic interpretation of Zeno of Elea’s dichotomy paradox, dating back to approximately 450 BC. I’m sure I am one in a long series of lecturers who have knelt to illustrate this paradox of motion. The seconds you took in reading this paragraph so far is about how long I wait to answer the above question, for dramatic effect, and in consideration for the slower few: “That’s right. The answer approaches zero, infinitely, but never arrives at zero. The pen never hits the floor!”
So what? That is the sobering question, usually from a bright skeptic I almost always find in every “Paradox and Infinity” workshop, thankfully. This time it is Andrew, the clever ice hockey player in Grade 11. Now he is my target, and my objective is to convince him of the mindboggling implications of the paradox. Here is my repertoire developed after about a dozen deliveries: I start with the physical, noting how I can never leave the room because I would infinitely approach the door but never arrive. Likewise, I can never eat, drink, speak, or move at all. No one can. I cannot hear because sound waves never arrive; nor do light waves, and I cannot see. I am bound in a philosophical prison, and I can only think. Or can I? Synapses never finish firing, and neurons never arrive, and I exist alone, senseless and thoughtless.
There is nothing like solipsism to depress teenagers, besides perhaps nihilism or absurdism (another workshop, another story). I would be an evil man to leave them there, so I switch the discussion to infinity. I tell them that if a thing never arrives but approaches infinitely, then it is moving infinitely, like the pen toward the floor. This can be a beautiful concept: everything is moving and happening infinitely. I am still being born, never stopped being born; still taking my first walk; still, paradoxically, learning my first English word; and falling in love, infinitely, eternally, for the first time. And, in a sense, I will never finish this sentence, and you will never finish reading it. But obviously you have, and that is the paradox.
I teach for money (let us get that out of the way.). I have been teaching for money because my family has been in debt, and a son does not stand and watch his father declare bankruptcy. His business failed in my junior year in college, and the final two years’ tuition was the log that broke his back. Those were tough times. I shelved my plan of attending law school and stopped fiddling with the idea of a Ph.D. in philosophy. Instead, I took a teaching job in ABC, where I could look after my parents and help pay off the debt.
Things improved gradually, and I moved back home to DEFG. Since then, I have been as busy as should be a man with debts and dreams. At first, the dreams were obstacles in getting things done; as hard as I worked, I could not stop myself from reserving time for my interests in philosophy, photography, poetry, and languages. In time, I have found that the act of teaching is not so different from the sharing of interests, and students respond better when I forget that I am teaching, as I often do when I roll a marked frisbee around the desk to illustrate Aristotle’s Wheel Paradox, or break a Starbucks stir stick repeatedly to imitate Zhuangzi’s infinite spear-breaking.
Now I teach mostly what I want to teach (is this what seniority and tenure must feel like?). For three years, I taught reading and writing and test preparatory courses that students asked for, but now I share with my students my readings of Jorge Luis Borges, Ted Hughes, J. M. Coetzee, Billy Collins, Thoreau, Beckett, Bukowski, and of other giants who happen to be trampling on my mind at the time. Though he has passed away before I had a chance to hear his lectures, Borges has been living with a foot on my head for a while. Many of my students share my love for his love for labyrinths, dreams, and infinity.
I try to do what I wish someone had done for me during high school, when I struggled to learn philosophy and poetry on my own. I know most students like Andrew the Hockey Player move on to study something more practical, like chemistry, economics, business, or dentistry, but I sometimes do get e-mails from former students saying they have decided to take a philosophy course (and earn a sadistic chuckle from me).
This essay signals the end of my six-year teaching career. As of late last year, I have been debt-free and started saving for school. I began this essay with my paradox workshop because I did not want to seem ungrateful by beginning with misfortune. That is not how I feel. Had I the choice to attend law school six years ago, you would have read an idealistic essay by a philosophy student eager to learn of the Truth of things for his own sake. This is and is not that essay.
Named for the Kurdish new year, the Newroz Café is a small, dingy kebab joint tucked away in Paris’ Latin Quarter. Boasting little more than two old plastic chairs and a broken Coca-Cola machine, the compact space smells like hot grease and strongly brewed tea. After recognizing the name while walking down the narrow streets one dusky evening, I was excited by the possibility of meeting Parisian Kurds. Once inside, I was indeed met with smiling Kurdish faces eager to find out what an American Kurd was doing in their tiny restaurant. We chatted for a few minutes, exchanging brief family histories and origins. They had emigrated from Iraq to France; my father from Syria to the United States. Then suddenly a young man emerged from the kitchen, his eyes dark and wild. He was palpably hostile and though I picked up the word “Turkish,” I was startled and confused by his aggressive entrance. The young man’s coworkers turned and hurriedly explained that I was Kurdish —not Turkish. Almost instantly, the young man’s wild eyes softened as he smiled. “I don’t like Turks,” he explained in broken French.
Two years earlier, as an ingenuous college freshman pouring over mountains of yellowed history text, I had begun a romance with the idea of nationalist struggle. Up until then, my Kurdish ethnicity had been an afterthought; a fact that surfaced only to explain my last name to an interested party. Now this dormant identity had found a new use. Aged but underused, the library’s books on Kurdish history engulfed my senses with a passionate irredentism. Like many students of international relations, I wanted to save the world. For me, this began with saving my fellow Kurds, or at least arguing their case.
By the time I began my junior year abroad in London, my arguments for Kurdish statehood were being recognized. That summer, papers I had written for two graduate-level courses during the previous semester were published as articles on the website KurdishMedia.com. I subsequently began a dialogue with the website’s co-founder and prominent Kurdish scholar, Dr. F---. After reading my work, Dr. F--- invited me to help edit articles in the website’s London office during my semester there. Though the time consumed by my course load and internship at a London law firm precluded me from accepting this generous offer, recognition by such a Kurdish figure crystallized my feeling of belonging to the nationalist movement. I was fully committed to supporting Kurdish statehood and denouncing those who opposed it. That was until my experience in a Parisian kebab shop.
Just as Newroz represents a new year and a new beginning in Kurdish culture, my experience in the Newroz Café represented a new beginning for my personal beliefs and academic focus. The young man’s aggressive reaction to the thought of an enemy inside his restaurant demonstrated the ethnic tension and nationalism that I had been writing about for the prior two years. This time, however, I was not in a sheltered classroom or behind a computer screen. I realized then that my obligation was not simply to advance an agenda to which I happened to be ethnically linked. Instead, I had to facilitate understanding between the ethnic fault lines. To do this, I would need to first understand these fault lines myself.
The following year in Boston, I began my senior thesis under the guidance of Professor [name]. My thesis did not focus on Kurdish nationalism, but on the country that I had taught myself to see as a foe: Turkey. As I analyzed Turkey’s strong political ideologies in reaction to its ethnically diverse population, I sought to learn how the Turks and Kurds had developed such mutual hostility when they have so much in common. Three weeks before graduation, I defended my findings before a panel of international relations experts and received acclaim for my accomplishments in the field. Though my academic pursuits had seemed fulfilling to me in the past, they did not compare with the sense of personal development that came with completing my thesis. I had used my academic opportunities and intellectual capability to look past the allure of ethnic bonds to the history and political theories that allowed nationalism to flourish unabated and unresolved.
With a basic comprehension of nationalism and international relations, I now wish to understand the practical mechanisms I can use to implement collaborative solutions to international problems. I believe in the potential of international law to be an objective tool of arbitration, but this potential needs to be nourished and groomed to ensure its realization. Studying the Kurdish Question sparked my interest in international law but it is not the only question I seek to answer. I plan to use my legal education to help unravel and resolve issues surrounding transnational ethnic movements the world over. I will always be, at heart, an international relations student who wants to save the world; but I hope to also be a lawyer with the expertise to do so.