Personal Statement - Graduate School Application
Applicant Profile: Applying for a masters in computer science.
Each outline comes with tips and annotated sample paragraphs.
The doors of our tiny two-room apartment closed behind us. My mother and I were alone again, unloading groceries into our tiny refrigerator. My father was out for the evening working a second job as a night janitor in an office building. It was only our third month in the USA. We were both exhausted after spending our weekend cleaning houses for extra cash. Though I was only 14 years old, I recognized our family's obstacles as being a typical part of the immigrant experience in New York City. We had left Russia for a new life, and we knew it would not come without hardship. Opportunities came disguised as work, and our struggles would become a source of inspiration.
During the next few years--my high school years--we would move to three different cities. I was so busy with keeping up in school and with working odd jobs to help my parents that I had very little time for a social life or friendships. I joined online support groups for the children of new immigrants and I connected with many wonderful people with similar stories to mine. Other high school students helping their families succeed in a new country became my confidants. We would exchange emails, chat online and on the phone. I became fascinated by the technology that allowed me to connect like this, beyond geographic boundaries. My newfound fascination with computer networking became my passion, my hobby, and my academic concentration.
As I learned more about computer programming and networking, I gained confidence in my ability to excel in school and to contribute to my community. There was always something to fix. There was always someone who needed technical help with their machine or device. There were important problems to solve, and it gave me a sense of accomplishment to be able to help others. My father had studied computer science in Russia, but he was unable to use his skills in our new country due to the language barrier. I also saw that I was carrying on my father's desire to work with computers, and he tutored me extensively sharing his knowledge. Even after working two jobs, he would come home and give me lessons in programming.
By the time I was an undergraduate in college, I knew I wanted to focus my career on computer networking. It was the very thing that had given me a sense of community as a teen. I was able to give back to my school community by volunteering my time teaching other students how to program, and even helping teachers with network issues. I excelled in my computer science program, in part because of my skills and in part because of my inspiration to have success in my field when my own father was not able to fulfill his career dream. Because of his sacrifices, I was able to emerge from the hardships of new-immigrant life with the ability to realize the dreams of my parents
When I recall the two-room apartment I shared with my parents, I see now how computers were a tool for me to expand beyond the limits of those walls. Computers had allowed me to expand beyond those limits. Because of the magic of networks, I never felt alone. Today, the scientist in me is even more curious about the inner workings of networks, and I plan to spend my graduate years studying network security. I believe that computer networks are an expression of the highest aspirations of humanity. I also believe that my own experiences as the child of new immigrants gave me an even greater sense of the value of networks to ensure that no one is ever completely isolated. I am excited to spearhead research into computer network security at your program and continue to inspire others.