“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drowned your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs
While cleaning up some files off an old computer this evening, I stumbled across the personal statement I wrote to get into graduate school at Drew University. I was working in Residence Life for around 6 months and had the itching to start graduate school. One of the many benefits of working in a higher education setting is the free tuition. I essentially secured a $47,000 graduate degree for around $2000 (the cost of books and various registration costs). At the time, I also had a 2 bedroom apartment and a meal plan paid for by the university as well. As a 21 year old bachelor, I was living the life! I gave me more joy than I expected to read this and can see that my personal drive, nerdiness, love of recreation, and desire for knowledge has continued to grow exponentially.
Drew University is located in Madison NJ, a borough approximately 25 miles west of New York City. Known as “the Rose City” because of its rose-cultivating industry in the nineteenth century, Madison is an affluent town Northern New Jersey. The university hosts the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ an independent professional theatre company; the Charles A. Dana Research Center for Scientists Emeriti; and the archives of the United Methodist Church managed by its General Commission on Archives and History. Former NJ Governor Tom Kean also served as University President for part of the time I worked there and was genuinely an altruistic person, true gentleman, and and incredible leader.
After majoring in Classical Studies, Latin, and Psychology as an undergraduate at Seton Hall University, I am now working towards a Masters Degree in English Literature as a graduate student at Drew University. In addition to my academic pursuits, I am also a full time employee as a Resident Director in for the Office of Campus Life and Student Affairs at Drew University. During my tenure here at Drew, I have had the opportunity to work with a dynamic team of professionals committed to providing a holistic residential experience. I am also an active member on the Student Life Advisory Board (SLAB). The Student Life Advisory Board is primarily concerned with the quality of the learning and living environment at Drew University with specific attention paid to issues of community. Among other tasks, the committee considers proposals that would change or modify policies pertinent to student life and makes recommendations to the faculty representation and the Dean of Educational and Student Affairs. In these meetings, there is a constant need to feel around the fringes, to test the edges, and to push the boundaries from professional staff members.
Last summer, I was one of 12 students who participated in the NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) Undergraduate Fellowship Program (NUFP). After an extensive application process, I was selected to attend Lewis and Clark College, located in Portland, Oregon. This growing city has come a long way since its days of trading with Chinook Indians and currently holds a comfortable place among its contemporaries in both business and leisure activities. This program was created to encourage undergraduate students of ethnic-minority and/or persons with disabilities to consider student affairs as a profession the college setting and hear their discussion of critical issues and effective program initiatives. I have an enhanced understanding of how values, relevant knowledge, and mental toughness are vital for success for the senior level positions in Student and Academic Affairs. The world is constantly changing and responding positively to change requires taking risks and making informed decisions.
The NUFP Program presented a unique angle of the many components that fall under the umbrella of student affairs. By working closely with the President and Dean of Students at Lewis and Clark College, I was able to brainstorm with different departments on programming initiatives, attend strategic planning meetings with the Trustees of the College, and take advantage of the countless professional growth opportunities that allowed me to see the “big picture” in higher education. This fellowship cemented my decision to pursue a career in higher education and provided me with some of the tools needed to flourish in this profession. Survival of the fittest does not exclusively apply to flora and fauna, and certainly is present in student affairs. With my past experiences and the constant development of my own abilities, I know that I will bring much to student affairs and higher education as a whole.
On a personal note, I am especially interested in twentieth-century British literature and creative writing. As an employee at Drew, I have already started graduate classes. Last February, I took 20th century British Poetry between the two World Wars with Dr. Bernard McKenna. I thoroughly enjoyed the instruction by McKenna, and the in-class discussions with fellow graduate students were a refreshing change from the judicial cases and student issues I deal with on a daily basis as a Resident Director. McKenna’s class was reminiscent of a undertaking I started during my senior year in college. I did an independent student on nature poetry and was heavily influenced by the relationship that some British poets had with nature. From my studies, I could see that the roots of this relationship stretch East, back to Lao Tsu, and Li Po, as well as West to the aboriginal prayers and myths that grew out of human inhabitation of this land. Wordsworth, especially in “Home at Grasmere” , seem to illuminate this point perfectly. In addition, Dave Gilcrest’s book Greening the Lyre: Environmental Poetics and Ethics, make some important distinctions between “environmental poetry,” “ecological Poetry,” and “nature poetry.” For me, it is fascinating to see how few critical examinations of British ecological poetry are available even today, but if my interests in this subject continue, I would certainly like to pursue this in some aspect in my thesis. I enjoy studying literature for its own sake and would like to continue my studies on the level demanded by the M.A. program.
My personal literary projects have involved some amalgamation of these subjects. I have submitted work to some literary journals with some success and am gradually building a working manuscript for a personal collection. After the passing of a relative, I became the owner and head artist of a flourishing greeting card company. For years, I was employed by family members and wrote short sentiments along with creating artwork that would eventually end up on greeting cards. Even though I wasn’t initially paid for my work, I gained business insight, the ability to take criticism, and honed my ability to work under unyielding timelines. My poetry in greeting cards often draw from and influence my academic studies. At the same time, I study the art of literature by taking part in the creative process, experimenting with the tools used by other authors in the past while working hard to put my own personal touch to my work. As an avid hiker, fly fisherman, and conservationist, I have experiences that range well beyond the classroom. Being able to translate Homeric poems from the original Greek version can help me survive high school reunions, but will prove useless when my frail body is subjected to the harsh elements I love to explore in the Pacific Northwest.
Thank you for taking the time to read my Personal Statement