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Sample 1: Dear Scholarship Committee: If the 18 year-old James would have known and understood the value of higher education the way the now 34 year-old James does, you would have received this letter 16 years ago. Perhaps the passage of 16 years and the experiences contained in them will prove to be an advantage that will make further education of the 34 year-old more fulfilling personally and more beneficial to family, friends and the community. I am, first of all a husband and father. Jan, my wife of eight years, and I have two beautiful childrenour daughter Sue is six, and our son Josh is three. My marriage and the birth of our children are the most satisfying, inspiring events in my life. Another event, not exactly a positive one at first glance, is one of the reasons you have received this letter. For nine years I was a journeyman carpenter working for several framing contractors on both residential and commercial projects. My duties included all aspects of framing construction as well as supervisory responsibilities. Then, my life changed drastically. A wall and beam assembly, later estimated to weigh some 3,000 pounds, fell and broke my left leg in several places. Since this career ending injury, however, more positives than negatives have emerged. Despite long therapy sessions and several follow-up operations, I can honestly say that the worst consequence of breaking my leg was that I broke my leg. The incident has allowed me the opportunity to spend more time with my wife and children and to seek a college education. Before the accident I was physically active at work, in recreation, and in my participation as a semi-professional baseball player with the San Diego Marlins. At that point I hadn't thought seriously about furthering my education. Because of my injury, I was faced with the realization that I was not indestructible. This revelation, along with much prompting from my wife, encouraged me to view this as a chance for a positive change and a more secure future. I am the first in my family to attend a university. In the spring of 2006, I enrolled in 18 units at Miramar College. Being a self-motivated, goal-oriented person, I was able to achieve a 4.0 grade point average and a place on the Deans Honors List. Despite my subsequent operations, I have maintained a 4.0 grade point average after 75 college units. My goal is to earn a Bachelors degree. I selected a Psychology major and Recreation Administration minor to improve myself and my ability to interact and communicate effectively with others.

One of my most time-consuming activities, as well as one of the most rewarding, is my involvement with the San Diego Unitarian Church. My responsibilities as volunteer youth counselor and advisor for our 20 Southern California congregations include planning and promotion of youth trips and activities which include visiting the sick and elderly and various musical performances throughout the year. My new communication skills and the broader view provided by the university experience, will be invaluable in my relationships with these youth and my future career. This 34 year-old returning student has learned to appreciate the generosity of others. I would be honored and grateful for whatever assistance you are willing to provide. Your investment in me will not only assist me in the accomplishment of my personal goals, but will benefit our community. Thank you for your consideration.

Sample 2: I have known in my heart since I was a little girl what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was not a stereotypical childs dream such as a doctor or an astronaut; my vision was instead something that has shaped my actions and decisions throughout my life. In the last few years I have realized that my passion for conserving the environment is a natural calling that I am destined to follow. This intuitive notion solidified while visiting my mother in Maryland a few summers ago. In my old bedroom my mother has kept framed memorabilia from my childhood. One night before I went to sleep I looked on the bedstand to find an old article that dated back to my third year of elementary school. After rereading this article thirteen years later, with a smile, I recognized my destiny is and has always been devoting my career to the conservation and preservation of our ecosystems. In my third grade class we attempted to introduce higher biodiversity along a creek through adding plants, which in turn attracts other organisms. Some of the older teenagers had rampaged through and stole our plants while trampling the beautiful ecosystem. I wanted to send a message to stop such destruction and the following article ended up in our town newspaper. Although I was only in third grade, the destruction of the environment affected me more deeply than most of my fellow classmates and continues to do so today. I wish to embark on an educational journey to beautiful Montverde, Costa Rica for the Tropical Ecology and Conservation program in the Spring of 2009. In order to take this step in my educational career, I am applying for financial aid through the John E. Bowma n Travel Grants, CIEE International Study Programs Scholarships, and the Jennifer Ritzmann Schola rship for studies in Tropical Biology. Throughout my life I have always been passionate about contributing to the conservation our earth. It became clear to me upon entering my college career that my focus should be in wildlife conservation. When I learned about this program I became ecstatic. Partaking in this unique opportunity will prepare me for my future career goals and aid to my growth as a conserva tionist and a young woman. While participating in

this program I will apply the knowledge and resources learned during the courses that I take in Costa Rica to real world situations. I will be working in the field amongst other scientists and gaining hands on experience, which will enrich my current education and my future career. Furthermore, I will be able to contribute to the conservation of the tropical forest through my education as well as gain a better cultural understanding of the world around me. I come from a broken home and was raised by my mother on a very low income. Thus I do not receive any financial support from my family and little from the federal government to fund my college education. Therefore my financial needs are very high. Throughout my life I have strived to achieve my goals solely on hard work and determination. For example, the last five years that I have attended school I have struggled toreceive enough federal loans to pay my tuition and have been working at night while attending school in order to barely scrap by. However, I feel like this makes me a stronger person and gives me greater passion for what I am trying to achieve. At this moment in time my situation is even more extreme than ever. Instead of working full time all summer to save money, I have been going to summer school in order to complete required courses before I depart for this program in the spring. The demands of summer school leave me no time for a part-time employment. Consequently, in order for me embark on this incredible opportunity I am extremely reliant on grants and scholarships to see this experience come to fruition. These scholarships and grants will assist me in achieving my goals through supporting my trip expenses in Costa Rica. In essence they will allow me to receive an excellent education in an amazing country as well as apply this knowledge to help conserve our precious ecosystems that are in danger of ultimate destruction and demise. Likewise, by supporting my education these funds will enable me to spread my newfound insight and knowledge to further educate the people around me as I plan to teach in conservation programs such as the Student Conservation Corps. I thank yo u so much for your consideration.

Sample 3: At 13, I was an ordinary teenage girl. I had my favorite movie stars, my secret crushes, and I probably ate too much chocolate. School mattered very little to me and learning even less. I worried about getting good grades in school but only to please my parents. My happy life consisted of sweet treats and even sweeter thoughts, an endless array of bite-sized banality. All that changed the summer of my 13th year, the year my older sister went away to college. I idolized my older sister. She was five years older than me and my link to the shadowy world of adulthood that seemed so out of reach. When she went away, I was devastated. It was a very wet summer that year and one particularly rainy day, I was lying in her

empty bed looking at the artifacts she'd left behind, clutching an old sweater. My eyes travelled around the room and came to rest on her bookshelf. For whatever reason, I picked one book up and began thumbing through it. It was Emile Zola's Germinal and it was to change my life forever. Germinal woke me up from my slumber. I began to see the world around me, to look at it with new eyes. I always thought things like poverty, greed and injustice happened elsewhere, to people that more or less deserved it. But the more I read about Etienne, Catherine, and the Vandame mine, the more I began to realize the universal nature of suffering. This is part of what makes Zola's novel a great work of art. It has the power to change the way you think while also being beautiful. I realized that there were actually striking miners in my own state. I then became an avid reader of newspapers and current events. I held a bake sale outside my school for the families of the miners. I didn't raise that much money but it felt good to at least to be doing something. The affect Germinal had on me was not just limited to social awareness. I also became more aware of other literature, history, and art. I read other Zola novels which led me to discover Balzac and his wonderful books such as the sweet sad tale of Pere Goriot. I also became interested in the French Revolution in order to find out how the month of Germinal came to get its name. When I learned that the young Zola was a early champion and admirer of Monet and the Impressionists, I began to notice art for the first time. Now that I am getting ready for college, I feel the effect that Germinal had on me more than ever. I've read it three times since I first discovered it and each time I seem to learn new things. It isn't just that I have a pet rabbit named Poland or that I have a pen-pal who is an orphaned miner's daughter. It goes much deeper than that. Germinal has changed the way I look at myself and the world around me. No other book has done that.

Sample 4: As we sped down the highway, the quiet and calming hum of the car seemed somehow at odds with the late-summer lushness of the Pennsylvania landscape. Without warning this quiet calm was shattered when my Uncle Alex yelled, Firsts! Uh, military railroads, I mumbled, drawing myself out of a sleepy reverie. A working submarine, Alex countered quickly. Hospital ships. Flame throwers. Back and forth we went. We were playing one of our many Civil War word games. This one consisted of calling out all of the many things that the Civil War saw the first instance of. It was a great way to pass time when on a long road trip. I remember this particular trip with such clarity for two reasons. One was that we were on our way to visit Wheatland, the home of James Buchanan, a destination that I had been looking forward to for some time. The second reason is that the very next day was my birthday. I was turning eight.

I suppose for most children it would have seemed strange to be spending their birthday at the former home of a pre-Civil War president. To me it only seemed like a long-awaited treat. My Uncle Alex was an amateur Civil War historian with an infectious love of learning. Alex's sickness took the form of believing that late 19th century American history was more exciting and more worthy of our attention than any other period of human existence. It would prove to be an illness that soon held me under it's spell also. It all started when Alex bought me an Abraham Lincoln action figure for my 4th birthday. I remember unwrapping the gift paper, revealing the strange gaunt figure as my Uncle described to me in hushed tones who this man was and what he had done for our country. The real gift that Alex gave me over the years, however, was that he never acted as if it were odd for a young boy to have a keen interest in history. Because staying up late debating whether or not Stonewall Jackson was a hypochondriac was treated as perfectly normal, perfectly normal it became. Looking back, I first remember thinking about what I would later realize was ethics or morals in relation to Robert E. Lee and his decision to support his home state of Virginia against the Union. My first contemplation of death took place after reading the correspondence of a young Union soldier who was shot and killed at Manassas before his younger bride ever received his letter. In short, my entire awareness has been shaped and influenced by my Uncle Alex's colorful pedagogy. I don't know what my life would have been without his influence but it certainly would have been different. I'm grateful that I shall never know. Uncle Alex didn't just teach me about a period of history. He taught me about life. He taught me the power of opening young minds to the mystery of knowledge. Most importantly, he taught me how to live life with excitement and passion. They are lessons I shall never forget. This scholarship essay question (Who has been the most influential person in your life?) is a common scholarship prompt. The example posted here is a winning scholarship submission that deals effectively and affectionately with the question.

Sampel 5: My double major in Government and Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (WGS) always provokes one of two reactions. Some people, like my uncle, make light of the concept of a man majoring in womens studies; others, like my grandmother, pull me aside with a worried look and encourage me to try studying something besides gay and lesbian theory. I had always planned to work in human rights advocacy, and my academic choices seemed like good preparation for that field. Still, my uncles skepticism nursed a suspicion that I would perpetually be an outsider if I studied issues like feminism, ethnic conflict, racism, or poverty. My grandmothers concern fostered an equal and opposite conviction that there is something self-serving about fighting for gay and lesbian rights when you have a personal investment in that struggle.

When I arrived at college, I had not begun to grapple with the ethical underpinnings of social justice. I dove into [my universitys] First-Year Urban Program, a week of volunteering which stressed that it can be counterproductive to work on behalf of a group without working with those people themselves. As I listened to a homeless speaker reminisce about how clueless volunteers could be, my mind flashed back to rooms full of white, middle class Midwesterners, and I wondered what I had actually contributed to local campaigns against poverty, racism, and violence. I kept myself updated on the politics of those movements, but without attempting to interact with individuals who were personally fighting those battles, I could never confidently say whether I had helped or hindered their efforts. In the years that followed, I threw myself into gay and lesbian activism on campusand felt naturally authoritative when I spoke up. It was outside the campus context, however, that I witnessed how the ability to understand othersand not outsider or insider statustruly characterizes effective advocacy. After receiving a Weissman Fellowship from [my university] to work abroad, I spent a summer at the International Lesbian and Gay Association in Brussels, Belgium. It was initially jarring because developments in the United States were rarely mentioned in the office, where I was tracking the decriminalization of homosexuality in Africa and Asia, publicizing anti-gay violence at parades in Latvia and Russia, and translating materials on womens health and same-sex domestic violence. What I considered contemporary gay and lesbian issueslike adoption and marriagewere distant goals on the organizations agenda. Nonetheless, though I was working on behalf of people who were thousands of miles away and had different objectives, my familiarity with the movements resources, symbols, and terminology made me markedly more effective as an ally. Shortly afterwards, I left for South Africa to do field research for my thesis. In 1996, the South African Constitution was the first in the world to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and I investigated how the subsequent decade of progressive legal victories occurred in spite of an overwhelmingly unreceptive public. The Government Department demanded a quantitative comparison of countries where similar reforms had been proposed. Professors in WGS, on the other hand, suggested that I use personal testimonies to understand how post-apartheid politics shaped gender and sexuality. I quickly realized that the movement in South Africa could not be explained by comparative cases, since apartheid and history put it in a class unto itself, but the personal (and occasionally, contradictory) perspectives of my interviewees also failed to produce a definitive conclusion. It was only through a combination of fieldwork and legislative research that I found that the countrys progressive legal framework masked very specific problemsranging from administrative indifference to endemic violencein communities fragmented by race, class, and gender. As an outsider who still felt a connection to the movement, I was not sure whether I could accurately depict that reality. As one interviewee pointed out, however, the gay and lesbian movement in South Africa has historically depended on activists who challenged claims that homosexuality is unAfrican, but also relied on outsiders who listened to South Africans, lobbied governments, and raised awareness around the world.

I have witnessed the ways in which individuals use journalism, law, and political pressure to draw international attention to populations who suffer from abuse and repression. Whether one is part of those populations or not, the ability to listen to others and contextualize observations is a necessary precursor to meaningful advocacy. Without that background in anthropological theory and ethnographic practice, it is difficult to know whether attempts to work with marginalized populations do more harm than good. As an undergraduate, I have developed a better understanding of the ideological justifications for human rights. Now, I want to train myself to conduct fieldwork and bring the pursuit of those protections to light. I am seeking a program that trains students to put research skills to use, but also encourages graduates to think critically about their work. Oxfords program is especially attractive because of its insistence on the inseparability of rigorous methodology and sociopolitical theory. The MPhil in Social Anthropology stresses training in quantitative and qualitative methodologies, but graduates are encouraged to apply those skills thoughtfully by engaging with Marx, Weber, and other social theorists. The first year of the program is virtually identical to the MSc, and provides an introduction to the field of anthropology before those concepts are put into practice in the second year. Students from a variety of disciplines, from academic anthropology to advocacy and human rights, are thus able to pursue the degree and enrich each others experiences. In S outh Africa, minority movements succeeded because they stressed that human rights are indivisible. Oxfords Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology stresses this interplay of religion, nationalism, and ethnicity, and Dr. X and Dr. Y would be especially invaluable resources while studying the political mobilization of identities. As a human rights advocate, the ability to conduct cross-cultural research, understand key concerns, and bring violations to light arent only skills I hope to master, but ones I am determined to practice.

Sample 6: My grandmother clutches her rosary and wags an admonishing forefinger at me as I sort through the dozens of saris she has collected over eighty years. Fish curry cooks over a wood fire in the kitchen while a cow saunters in the street outside. It is a soggy monsoon afternoon in Sampige, the village home of my mothers family since before Vasco de Gama landed in India. My summer is drawing to a close. I have done bloody battle with leeches in the jungle, wrangled a classroom full of children yelling, Ajith said a bad wordbeat him! and encountered a man who, hearing I was American, growled and proudly showed me the pixilated Osama bin Laden on his cell phone. Yet few memories stand out as vividly as my grandmother and the unlikelihood, bordering on absurdity, that this womans granddaughter should sing the fight song at college football games, use the word Google, or watch MTVs Pimp My Ride. Daughter of a Midwestern boy and a girl from Calcutta, I find it amazing that my Indian grandmother, experientially a world away, set the stage for my life. As I have studied for degrees in Letters and International Studies, the interconnectedness of human experience across time and culture has been a recurring theme. Just as religious nationalism in Serbia

has parallels to Indias Hindu-based BJP party, knowing about the governance of Sparta under Lycurgus lends historical perspective to the fusion of faith and governance. My academic background forms a broad and rich foundation for the English Language and Literature B.A. at Oxford. Having seen the interplay of various academic disciplines, I am anxious to apply this awareness to studying the intertwined development of literature and language. I have known for several years that I want to become an English professor and a writer. Like most word-geeks I am fascinated by the ability of skillful writers to capture images and convey effects through their handling of language. I want to explore the technical and formal aspects that make it possible for literature to reflect and change the people who read it. One of the best courses I have taken was an introductory American History class in which we read novelists from Alger to Kesey to DeLillo. Along with learning about historical events, we discovered through literature how those events had shaped Americans view of the human experience. Understanding history, philosophy and politics gives literature its grounding while literature gives those subjects their life. One reason I love literature is its power to challenge me and refine my view of myself and others. Literature charts my common ground with characters as diverse as a street urchin in a Dickens saga and a modern Japanese businessman in a sketch by Murakami. Studying at Oxford was a childhood dream of mine, discarded along with my tutu. I was originally attracted to the fact that Bertie Wooster was an Oxonian, but the English Language and Literature B.A. degree and the tutorial system rekindled my interest when I participated in the Honors at Oxford program. The English B.A. focuses on giving the student a solid grasp of the development of English literature from Beowulf to present. Learning the foundations of literature provides the basis for future specialization just as a background in the broader humanities enriches the understanding of literature. Reading James Joyces Ulysses taught me how literature and culture anchor a writers work and broaden his scope of possible expression. Anyone could describe Leopold Bloom making a pot of tea. James Joyce chose to relate the event in the form of a catechism, borrowing cultural and literary associations of Christianity which lend Blooms every thought and action a preternatural significance and make a statement of bold humanism without ever straying from the narrative. Without Joyces knowledge of his historical and literary family tree from Homer to Yeats, Ulysses would have been un-writable. Without a similar awareness on the part of the reader, it is unreadable as well. The best professors I have encountered have been those who combine their expertise with knowledge and interests beyond their specialties. In their offices a question about Iraq turns into a discussion of Virginia Woolf. They are the professors who see their own subject as a contribution to my broader development as a scholar and as a person. Literature in particular is a fertile ground for interdisciplinary application and has practical relevance in other fields. As an English professor grounded in both literary history and interdisciplinary studies, I hope to bring students in touch with the beauty and power of the written word, with an eye to helping them clarify their own values, discover their potential and find their niche in the world.

As an aspiring writer, I know that producing two papers each week will be invaluable to my development. I have written for friends and family and known the delight of a wellformed sentence from an early age, but it was not until college that I took my own writing very seriously. I have learned to appreciate the connotations and sound qualities of individual words and to notice how those attributes can be used to create subtlety of meaning. Writing an opinion column for the school newspaper has exposed me to the challenge of distilling my own thoughts and observations for the consumption of strangers. I enjoy examining a narrow facet of life and seeing how it reflects upon the greater whole. I have always tried to live my life with initiative. Whether traipsing onstage in a bikini when my friends dared me to enter a beauty pageant or visiting my Grandmother in Sampige, through a wide range of experiences I view life from a variety of angles and incorporate them into my worldview and writing. Studying English at Oxford is a logical next step towards a career of using literature to examine assumptions and discover unsuspected commonalities, thus bridging a span as wide as that between myself and my grandmother, who recently heard that she is mentioned in my essay for the Rhodes Scholarship. See how good God is! she exclaimed. My name is going to Oxford!

Sample 7: I grew up in Oakland County, a predominantly white suburb of Detroit, Michigan. It and a handful other counties circling Detroit are largely the result of the white flight spurred by the citys 1960s race riots. Whenever my father and I visited the city, he casually pressed the automatic lock button as we crossed Eight Mile Road, the dividing line between the suburbs and the city. He grew up in Detroit and remembered a vibrant, diverse citydrastically different from the dilapidated, primarily African American city I saw. My mother worked as an advocate for urban teens in the city for years, and my father drew up building proposals in an attempt to rebuild the city. The daughter of a community-minded architect and teacher, I was raised to think of myself as a catalyst for social improvement through creativity. While studying at [my college], I focused on performance art, a discipline in which the human body becomes the artistic medium. Some of my best classes involved collaborations with a female juvenile facility, local farmers, and the Humane Society. In each of these classes, we used art to reach out to different members of our community. During my senior year, I performed a monologue in front of large-scale paintings I created about my citys namesake. Upon graduating from college in 2006, I was awarded a fellowship with Artrain USA, an art museum in a locomotive that travels the country, bringing world-class exhibitions to impoverished, art-starved communities. I created puppet shows and paintings about the towns we visited and staged re-enactments of significant local events. After my fellowship with the Artrain USA, I was awarded an artist residency with a community arts organization with two galleries, a stage, classrooms, and seven resident artist studios. [The city], historically a working-class port town, offered a host of historical events, figures, and rituals for me to explore. Its modern

day culture also fascinated meits rich cultural diversity, its proximity to the Mason Dixon Line, and the ways in which blue collar [citizens] who had lived on the same street for 40 years bumped up against recent Latin American immigrants. [The city] seemed, in some ways, to echo my fathers stories about Detroit. But while in Detroit much of the white population now lives north of the city, [my new citys] racial divide consists of block and neighborhood divisions. It struggles with high crime, drugs, and gang-related violence. When I moved into the Creative Alliance, there had been a spike in drug-related theft on our block. Every day I heard a different racial or ethnic slur uttered on the street. I wanted to change the hostility somehow, but couldnt figure out how to break through the tension of my new city. Then, I saw a photograph that changed everything. In the old newspaper photo, Washday, a row of pristine marble steps leading to the citys row houses are meticulously scrubbed by housewives in the midday sun. The residents were unbelievably unified, as though the women had decided to scrub their steps at precisely the same hour. I had never noticed anyone in my neighborhood scrubbing steps and began to suspect that the absence of this performance was a symptom of something greater than a lapse in marble maintenance. Beginning in the late 19th century, this ritual was performed each Saturday by the female heads of household all first-generation Americans and recent immigrants from Italy, Poland, and Germany. The performance of the weekly chore, once unifying them in their fresh homeowners pride, fell off gradually as the 20th century progressed, renters moved in, and a generation moved on. I decided to use this aspect of [my citys] history as a point of entry into the complexities of its current social structure by performing the once-communal chore. Though great in theory, this was not an easy task. Almost immediately I realized that I was afraid of my audience, afraid they might not remember or care about the part of their history I was trying to resurrect. Would they slam the door in my face? Some did. But many more said yes. Every Saturday for the past six months, I have worn a 1940s housedress and apron. I go door to door with a bucket of water, scrub brush and a can of Bon Ami Polishing Cleanser, knock on my neighbors doors, and ask Do Your Steps? Their reactions range from delighted glee as they recount their days scrubbing steps to confusion if they are strangers to the ritual. Most often, we end up in a lively discussion about the history of their block, the ritual of step scrubbing, and their theories on why the tradition ended. This is just one example of my belief that it is critical that people engage with the history of the place they live to understand its present social, cultural, and economic dynamics. Just as Ive seen in [cities across the country], historically based performance art could do wonders to shed light on international affairs in an engaging, thought-provoking way. It performs the double purpose of drawing historians and politicians to art, and drawing art appreciators to politics and history. Sometimes it takes an outsider to look at a countrys history and politics to re-ignite an interest in or reframe that piece of history.

Many other performance artists have taken their inspiration from global and cultural politics. Guillermo Gomez-Pena, for example, is a Mexican-born performance artist, creating work about the politics of the U.S./Mexican border. NaoKo TakaHashi is another performance artist whose work highlights the ambiguities of national and individual identities, focusing on re-location in London. I would like to become just such an ambassador, learning about a new place while connecting with its people through history.

Sample 8: On one hot late-summer day when I was in high school, my parents came back from a shopping trip with a surprise present for me: the legendary board game, Diplomacy. At first I scoffed at such an old-fashioned game. Who would want to waste glorious sunny days moving armies around a map of pre-World War I Europe, pretending to be Bismarck or Disraeli? But after playing the game once, I became absolutely riveted by the nuances of statecraft, and soon began losing sleep as I tried to craft clever diplomatic gambits, hatch devious schemes, and better understand the game's ever-changing dynamics. As my friends and I spent the second half of the summer absorbed by the game, my parents grinned knowingly. How could I resist being fascinated with Diplomacy, they asked me, when I incessantly read about international affairs, and liked nothing more than debating politics over dinner? How could I resist being fascinated, when I had spent most of my summers in Greece (and, much more briefly, France and England), witnessing first-hand the ways in which countries differ socially, culturally, and politically? Though my passion for foreign policy and international affairs undoubtedly dates back to high school, I never had the chance to fully develop this interest before college. Once I arrived at Harvard, however, I discovered that I could learn about international relations through both my academics and my extracurricular activities. Academically, I decided to concentrate in Government, and, within Government, to take classes that elucidated the forces underlying the relations of states on the world stage. Some of the most memorable of these classes included Human Rights, in which we discussed what role humanitarian concerns ought to play in international relations; Politics of Western Europe, in which I learned about the social, economic, and political development of five major European countries; and Causes and Prevention of War, which focused on unearthing the roots of conflict and finding out how bloodshed could have been avoided. Currently, for my senior thesis, I am investigating the strange pattern of American human rights-based intervention in the post-Cold War era, and trying to determine which explanatory variables are best able to account for it. Interestingly, I think that I have learned at least as much about international relations through my extracurriculars in college as I have through my classes. For the past three years, for instance, I have helped run Harvard's three Model United Nations conferences. As a committee director at these conferences, I researched topics of global importance (e.g. the violent disintegration of states, weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East),

wrote detailed study guides discussing these subjects, and then moderated hundreds of students as they debated the topics and strove to resolve them. Even more enriching for me than directing these committees was taking part in them myself. As a delegate at other schools conferences, I would be assigned to represent a particular country on a particular UN committee (e.g. France on the Security Council). I would then need to research my country's position on the topics to be discussed, articulate my view in front of others in my committee, and convince my fellow delegates to support my position. Trying to peg down a country's elusive national interest, clashing over thorny practical and philosophical issues, making and breaking alliances - Model UN was basically a simulation of how diplomacy really works. Thankfully, I have also found time over the past few years to cultivate interests and skills unrelated to Model UN and foreign policy. One of the most important of these has been community service. As a volunteer for Evening With Champions, an annual ice-skating exhibition held to raise money for children with cancer, and as a teacher of a weekly high school class on current events and international affairs, I have, whenever possible, used my time and talents to benefit my community. Another more recent interest of mine is the fascinating realm of business. Two years ago, my father's Christmas present to me was a challenge rather than a gift: he gave me $500,but told me that I could keep it only if I invested it in the stock market - and earned a higher rate of return than he did with another $500. Since then, I have avidly followed the stock market, and become very interested in how businesses interact and respond to strategic threats (perhaps because of the similarities between business competition and the equally cutthroat world of diplomatic realpolitik). A final passion of mine is writing. As the writer of a biweekly column in the Independent, one of Harvard's student newspapers, I find very little as satisfying as filling a blank page with words - creating from nothing an elegant opinion piece that illuminates some quirk of college life, or induces my readers to consider an issue or position that they had ignored until then. Because of my wide range of interests, I have not yet decided what career path to follow into the future. In the short run, I hope to study abroad for a year, in the process immersing myself in another culture, and deepening my personal and academic understanding of international affairs. After studying abroad, my options would include working for a nonprofit organization, entering the corporate world, and attending law school. In the long run, I envision for myself a career straddling the highest levels of international relations, politics, and business. I could achieve this admittedly ambitious goal by advancing within a nonprofit group, think tank, or major international company. Perhaps most appealingly, I could also achieve this goal by entering public service and obtaining some degree of influence over actual foreign policy decisions - that is, becoming a player myself in the real-life game of Diplomacy.

Sample 9: Nothing in all the world is comparable to reading Ayn Rand beneath New York's skyline or to studying Nietzsche atop a mountain summit.

Since childhood, the studies of philosophy and science have interested me profoundly. Having read many books on relativity, quantum mechanics, existentialism, religion, capitalism, democracy and post-Aristotelian philosophy, my quest for knowledge has only intensified. Certainly, the purpose of my life is to discover a greater understanding of the universe and its people. Specifically, I plan to better grasp the interrelationship among forces, matter, space, and time. In addition, I hope to find a unified field theory and a convincing explanation for the birth of the universe. During the summer of tenth grade, I took a number theory course at Johns Hopkins University with students from Alaska, California, and Bogota, Colombia. My attendance of the New Jersey Governor's School in the Sciences is another accomplishment that exemplifies my dedication to knowledge. During the summer following eleventh grade, I took courses in molecular orbital theory, special relativity, cognitive psychology, and I participated in an astrophysics research project. For my independent research project, I used a telescope to find the angular velocity of Pluto. With the angular velocity determined, I used Einstein's field equations and Kepler's laws to place an upper bound on the magnitude of the cosmological constant, which describes the curvature of space and the rate of the universe's expansion. In addition to learning science, I recently lectured physics classes on special relativity at the request of my physics teacher. After lecturing one class for 45 minutes, one student bought many books on both general and special relativity to read during his study hall. Inspiring other students to search for knowledge kindles my own quest to understand the world and the people around me. Also, as president of the National Honor Society, I tutor students with difficulties in various subject areas. Moreover, I am ranked number one in my class, and I am the leading member of the Math Team, the Academic Team, and the Model Congress Team. In the area of leadership, I have recently received the Rotary Youth Leadership Award from a local rotary club and have been asked to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum on Law and the Constitution in Washington D.C. Currently enrolled in Spanish 6,I am a member of both the Spanish Club and the Spanish Honor Society. As student council president, I have begun a biweekly publication of student council activities and opinions. Also, the executive board under my direction has opened the school store for the first time in nearly a decade and is finding speakers to speak at a series of colloquia on topics ranging from physics to politics. Directing fund raisers and charity drives also consumes much of my time. For instance, I recently organized a charity drive that netted about $1,500 for the family of a local girl in need of a heart transplant. Consistent with my love of freedom and my belief in democracy, which is best summarized by Hayek's Road to Serfdom, I have recently initiated an application to become the liaison to the local board of education. Also, in keeping with my belief that

individuals develop strong principles and ideology, I teach Sunday school three months a year and have chaperoned for a local Christian school. Outside pure academics and leadership roles, I lift weights five times a week for an hour each day. In addition, I play singles for my school's varsity tennis team. Because I find extraordinary satisfaction in nature and have dedicated my life to its understanding, I enjoy mountain climbing. Among the notable peaks I have reached are Mt. Washington, Mt Jefferson, Mt. Madison, Mt. Marcy and Mt. Katahdin. Unquestionably, my life's aim is to dramatically raise the height of the mountain of knowledge so that my successors may have a more accurate view of the universe around them.

Sample 10: Like Mr. Crabiel, I literally work tirelessly in many academic and leadership roles. I sleep no more than six hours a night because of my desire to expertly meet my many commitments. Throughout my life, I have worked as long and as hard as I possibly can to effect beneficial changes in both school and society. During the summer of tenth grade, I took a number theory course at Johns Hopkins University with students from Alaska, California, and Bogota, Colombia. Similarly, during the summer following eleventh grade, I was one of ninety students from New Jersey selected to attend the Governor's School in the Sciences at Drew University. At Drew, I took courses in molecular orbital theory, special relativity, cognitive psychology, and I participated in an astrophysics research project. For my independent research project, I used a telescope to find the angular velocity of Pluto. With the angular velocity determined, I used Einstein's field equations and Kepler's laws to place an upper bound on the magnitude of the cosmological constant, which describes the curvature of space and the rate of the universe's expansion. In addition to learning science, I recently lectured physics classes on special relativity at the request of my physics teacher. After lecturing one class for 45 minutes, one student bought many books on both general and special relativity to read during his study hall. Inspiring other students to search for knowledge kindles my own quest to understand the world and the people around me. As president of the National Honor Society, I tutor students with difficulties in various subject areas. In addition, I am ranked number one in my class with an SAT score of 1580 and SATII scores of 750 in math, 760 in writing, and 800 in physics. In school, I take the hardest possible courses including every AP course offered at the high school. I am the leading member of the Math Team, the Academic Team, and the Model Congress Team. In the area of leadership, I have recently received the Rotary Youth Leadership Award from a local rotary club, have been asked to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum on Law and the Constitution in Washington D.C., and wrote the winning essay on patriotism for South Plainfield's VFW chapter. Currently enrolled in Spanish 6,I am a

member of both the Spanish Club and the Spanish Honor Society. In addition, I recently was named a National Merit Scholar. Besides involvement in academic and leadership positions, I am active in athletics. For instance, I lift weights regularly. In addition, I am the captain of my school's varsity tennis team. So far this year, my individual record on the team is 3-0. Working vigorously upon being elected Student Council President, I have begun a biweekly publication of student council activities and opinions. Also, the executive board under my direction has opened the school store for the first time in nearly a decade. With paint and wood, we turned a janitor's closet into a fantastic store. I also direct many fund raisers and charity drives. For instance, I recently organized a charity drive that netted about $1,500 for the family of Alicia Lehman, a local girl who received a heart transplant. As Student Liaison to the South Plainfield Board of Education, I am working to introduce more advanced-placement courses, more reading of philosophy, and more math and science electives into the curriculum. At curriculum committee meetings, I have been effective in making Board members aware of the need for these courses. In addition, my speeches at public Board meetings often draw widespread support, which further helps to advance my plans for enhancing the curriculum. I have also been effective as a Sunday school teacher. By helping elementary school students formulate principles and morals, I make a difference in their lives every week. The value system that I hope to instill in them will last them their entire lives. I find teaching first-graders about Christ extremely rewarding. Clearly, I have devoted my life both to working to better myself and to improving civilization as a whole. Throughout the rest of my life, I hope to continue in this same manner of unselfish work. Just as freeholder Crabiel dedicates his life to public service, I commit my life to helping others and to advancing society's level of understanding.

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