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Free Sample Personal Statement in English

For Program: MA in English
It all started with "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," the one poem I could quote from the hundreds I read in a year-long freshman survey of "Western Heritage Literature." What made it stand out in my mind? Everything that made the poem modern: the juxtaposition of drama and triviality in Prufrock's mid-life crisis, the unexpected images of an evening under anesthetic and cat-like city smog. An elective Eliot seminar followed, in which I was immersed in critical readings, lively debate, and intensive research unlike any I had encountered in required survey courses. That experience convinced me to officially declare an English major, but I was not yet declaring aspirations towards an academic career. Through three years as a reporter/editor for the La Salle Collegian, I dreamed of distant Pulitzer Prizes for investigative reporting. By the fall of 1991, however, I was beginning to envision fellowships, laudatory book jacket blurbs, and a tenured professorship as my ultimate goals. Several semesters as a peer tutor in La Salle's Writing Fellows Program had convinced me that I have an aptitude for teaching to match my talents in academic research and writing.

To clear up any uncertainties about committing myself to advanced scholarship, I decided to take "a year off" after graduation to explore other career paths. Since August 1992, I have been the Editor and Report Coordinator at McCormick, Taylor & Associates, Inc., and a transportation engineering and environmental planning firm based in Philadelphia. As MTA's "grammar guru," I have pondered at length the intricacies of comma placement, the evils of passive voice, and the burning question of whether to pluralize acre when it follows a fraction. This preoccupation with details has strengthened my basic writing skills. In the past year, I have also been called upon to teach the basics to others. Most newcomers to our staff have little or no training in technical writing, and some would definitely benefit from a refresher on the fundamentals of composition. In the spring, I will conduct a one-day writing workshop for MTA's traffic engineers, environmental scientists, and planners.

I was first attracted to the University of Kankakee by the Writing Studies Program. From working with software design and advanced biology classes at the college level, and with technical professionals in the business world, I have become convinced that college curricula must place more emphasis on "writing across the disciplines." The influence of computerized word processing on writing strategies is another area I would like to research. Because my experience with theories of rhetoric and composition is limited, however, I am wary of declaring a concentration in writing studies. I hope that I will have the opportunity to sample courses in the Writing Studies Program as a graduate student of literature at Kankakee.

My interests still lie mainly in the modern era, but my conception of the modern has changed a great deal in light of the theories I have explored since college. A seminar in the Bronte's (HON 315, 1991) and a women's studies class (audited in 1992) first exposed me to feminist criticism, which I have continued to investigate on my own. As a result of this study, I now recognize the modern spirit in such rebellious female voices of the 19th century as Charlotte Bronte and Emily Dickinson. I plan to focus my research on issues of gender and identity in women's literature in England and America. In researching your program, I was pleased to note that several professors in the department express an interest in feminist theory, women's writing, and gender studies.

My early interest in modernism was born of a passion for poetry, but I am currently intrigued by changes in narrative technique through the 20th century. While the modernists experimented with multiple voices and streams of consciousness, contemporary novelists like John Fowles have represented conflicting realities that seem to exist independent of the mind. I hope to investigate this and other postmodern trends in fiction through graduate study. Your faculty list includes many 20th century scholars, who would undoubtedly help me to discover exciting avenues of inquiry I have not yet imagined.

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