Personal Statement # 1
I didn't plan to do anything special when I first came to the University. All I wanted to do was go to class, join a few activities, and make a few friends. It took less than five minutes to learn how impossible this simple goal might be, when my roommate informed me that his parents were worried that he was living with an African-American. However, he assured me that he was "down with the brown" and listened to rap music all of the time. I knew then that we were both in for an education that had nothing to do with books.
Over the year I became good friends with my roommate and we both learned lessons from each other. I taught him that understanding African-Americans has nothing to do with understanding mainstream perceptions portrayed by the media. He taught me lessons about rural poverty in Appalachia and the reality of growing up without an understanding of different cultures or religions. Mid-way through my freshman year I learned that my roommate is gay. Instead of disowning him like his parents did, I supported him through an incredibly difficult time. By coming out of the closet and realizing the difficulties faced by minorities, he gained insight into what I have dealt with all of my life. Three years later we still live together and laugh about the first time we met.
The first activity I joined was the marching band. I played trumpet for 10 years, and it was a passionate love affair. I stuck with the band for two years, but couldn't stand the uncultured crowd-pleasing shows we were forced to do every week. I wanted Mozart; the crowd wanted Ricky Martin, and the crowd always won. I still have a set of friends from my music days. We share horror stories and talk of past trips and practices. I miss music, but I've moved on and don't need that creative outlet anymore. I also fenced for two years. I tried out for the team (it was a club sport) because I'd never done anything like that before and wanted to try something new. Isn't that what life is all about? The people were great, so I stuck with it until those monsters, The Daily and my school work, began to consume too much of my time for me continue.
My only aspiration when I joined The Daily was to write the comedic crime journal, in order to use my new job as a pickup line at parties. Finding the positive, creative outlet of journalism was a gift. The newspaper let me write about the campus community. As a reporter, I wrote about stories dealing with the campus administration, government, and local economy. Minority accomplishment programs and cultural awareness issues were generally glazed over by the paper at best, at worst they were completely ignored. When I became government editor, I worked to integrate the minority perspective into a newspaper that was completely devoid of it. When Presidential elections came around, I wrote features on the issues facing everyone, and didn't ignore the perspective of minority students, staff, and faculty. I also discovered that the university's non-discrimination statement did not cover homosexuals. The connection with my roommate taught me that this issue needed to be brought up for campus discussion.
My mission as editor has been to promote ingenuity and change for the better. I assigned, wrote, and edited stories about the Palestinian and Jewish communities in the city and their collective reaction to the conflict going on the other side of the world. I also brought light to other minority groups on campus like Hispanic and Indian-Americans. The university has no scholarship or recruitment program for these minorities, and I have worked to assign stories that addressed this issue. These efforts were not in vain. Currently the university is examining the possibility of adding homosexuals to the non-discrimination clause and discussing our goals for diversity, and there are thriving Jewish and Muslim student groups that hold open round-table discussions.
My focus hasn't always been welcome at the U because of its strong connection with tradition and order. I may not be invited to student leader breakfasts or private meetings, but I know that things are going to change; they just move slower in the South. Life isn't about revolution; it's the evolution we all make that matters, and I can say that I helped the U evolve. When my brief time at college is over, I hope to have changed a few minds, raised a few eyebrows, and somewhere between gained an education.