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Sample Personal Statement for Public Policy Study

I was born in the city of Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Canton--an area often called the "frontier" of China's economic reform and marketization. The economic and social development of the area has taken place in such pace that it radically transforms the living conditions, the environment, the culture, and perhaps more than anything else, people's way of thinking. No longer victims of ignorance and self-isolation, people of Canton view the outside world with great curiosity and openness.

I remember that ever since I was in high school, I paid rapt attention to the social changes and government policy-making that were to shape the country's future. Many debates took place between me and my classmates, and it often brought us to euphoria or regret and sorrow, as we watched the events taking their many unexpected turns to unfold.

But it was not until I entered ZhongShan University (one of the top institutions for higher learning in China) that I became attracted to Political Science for something I had not known before--its rich theory, complex logic, and the sheer brilliance of its insights and arguments. During my student years, I became acquainted with some professors of the department who had been studying at Harvard and other American universities, and their professional ability and personal charisma impressed me immensely. From them I came to know that I can achieve a deeper understanding of China's past and present by broadening my theoretical and cultural perspective. I also began to see not only the importance of Political Science, but also its challenge and excitement.

It was, however, an accidental event that prompted me to take Public Policy as my area of focus. An organizer of a student "social practice" activity, I came to a community school operated exclusively for children of migrant workers, who could not enter regular schools because of their "alien" status--an experience I will never forget. The contrast between the school's facilities with those of ordinary city schools shocked me. In the clear eyes of the children sitting before me I read longing and suffering. I kept asking myself what I could do for these children, not just the one hundred or more in front of me, but millions and millions more like them. It is only through the development of the social welfare system and appropriate government policy that the disadvantaged may be helped and protected, and all children may have an equal opportunity to education and success. Since then, I have been fully determined to devote myself to the cause of public service and social welfare.

I am fully convinced that Public Policy Study is vital to any modern society. It shapes our understanding of our social systems and responsibilities, and informs government legislation and policy-making. The great attraction of a career in public policy research lies in that it will allow me to play a part in the planning and the building of a future society of our country, which is not only richer, but better. Public Policy is also an area of study noted for its practical value. It addresses to concrete economic and social issues, and in this way becomes lessened entangled with abstract theoretical and ideological disputes, which I sometimes find discouraging. One of the reasons for me to pursue advanced education abroad is to attain a fuller knowledge of the public policies and their specific principles and applications in the United States and other industrial countries. They tell us what a country could experience in the process of industrialization, and give new meanings to the concepts of public interests and social policy. They are, as I see it, an asset to mankind.

Government policy study as an academic discipline was started in China in the 1980's; systematic study of public policy was even more recent. In China's steady transition from a state-controlled system to a market-oriented economy, new social issues continue to emerge, calling for close investigation and serious research. While great progress and improvement are being made, many in adverse situations are also left stranded and helpless. The need for the development of an adequate social security system and welfare service has never been so urgent.

I believe that my solid educational background, my willingness and ability to tackle difficult problems, my strong sense of social responsibility, and, above all, my boundless enthusiasm for the cause of public service, will enable me to succeed in pursuing an advanced degree in my chosen field in the United States. And from this, I am sure, my country and my people will benefit. As Karl Marx says, man strives for things that matter to him. In saying so, I believe, he means not only material things, but also the spiritual and the ideal. It is in the behalf of social justice and public well-being that I will strive, for the rest of my life.


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