Students often find that writing the personal statement is one of the most challenging tasks of completing health professional school applications, aside from standardized tests and prerequisite classes of course! The issue is that students often find it challenging to speak about themselves without relaying a full recount of their resume or seeming boastful. To this I reply… OWN YOUR STORY!
Each and every student is unique. The key is to find your voice and how to best express and OWN this story. The feeling of not being interesting enough or having enough disadvantage or diversity to warrant a good story is a fallacy. What you have to do is really understand the key question on every schools mind…what drives you? What gives you passion? What makes you, you? This can be overwhelming. However, the most important task at hand is articulating who you are and the path that brought you where you are today. And to walk boldly in this story. I like to consider this story a “selfie” in words. You are confident, assured, unapologetic and strong in describing how your path has allowed you to be the best version of yourself. And that this person is a true asset to the profession you are choosing. This confidence will then instill the same sentiment in the person bearing witness to these words they read on paper.
This also translates beyond the personal statement but to interviews as well. Sometimes you may feel that your story is so personal it is difficult to share. To that I say, only share what you can willingly discuss in your graduate school interview. You cannot expect a professional school to embrace you and want you in their program if you do not embrace yourself. Additionally, being transparent and owning your story allows others to appreciate the unique life experience that you will bring to their school and the profession, as well as allow you to relate to patients of unique backgrounds. By hiding your story you may inadvertently place yourself in the position in which you gain acceptance into a program that may not be truly supportive or accepting of who you are. So I leave you with a poem that I hope provides inspiration as you put pen to paper or stare in the eyes of the interviewers on your journey..
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson