grad school + personal statement = humbling experience

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i spent the afternoon pulling together a resume (gasp!), filling out an online application (seriously? we did everything paper and pencil way back when), and writing a personal statement. for giggles i pulled out the one i had written in 2000 for the women’s studies MA at george washington university. it’s fun to see how writing styles and dreams evolve over the years.

below is what i’ve crafted thus far for the personal statement. must confess it was hard not to use “moi” or “delighted” or “oodles.” i’m sure i’m missing critical pieces, but am enjoying how it is coming together. if you have suggestions or feedback, please pass along!

Ever since I got a hold of my mother’s Dear Abby books, I’ve been fascinated by the notion of serving others and helping them take steps forward. In college I studied Psychology, graduated cum laude, and had grand plans of becoming a therapist. During my senior year I was exposed to Women’s Studies and my world changed. Instead I pursued my Master’s in Women’s Studies with a focus of entrepreneurial leadership and have been serving women for almost a decade through my various organizations.

Growing up in Oklahoma, my exposure to opportunities for women was limited. During college my eyes were opened and I’ve enjoyed the non-traditional path ever since. Rather than going straight to graduate school, I backpacked around Europe for three months and then moved to Colorado to work at a ski resort for ten months. In 1996, I was presented with an opportunity to move to Washington, D.C. and pursued a Certificate in Paralegal Studies at Georgetown University. Law had always interested me and I performed strongly on the analytical section of the GREs so I decided to explore this path. Working in a law firm, counting the years until retirement, and hoping to change the world one trademark at a time was draining my spirit.

I took action at the age of 26: left the law firm, went back to Georgetown University to help run the Paralegal program, and took yoga teacher training. My ability to serve, help others take action, and nurture their spirits along the way had come full circle. I was enamored with the prospect of starting a yoga community, so I opened my living room to strangers and now have three studios in the D.C. area that serve over 1200 students each week, mainly women.

By teaching yoga, training teachers, leading workshops and retreats, mentoring, and overseeing four organizations, I am lucky to live my passion each and every day. However, there is a piece of me that has returned to the prospect of getting an MSW multiple times over the past ten years and I am now more eager than ever.

In 2006, I launched Tranquil Space Foundation to help deliver yoga, creativity, and leadership tools to women and girls. We have started with the program Tranquil Teens: Stretch Yourself which we take to girls 9th-12th grade and also give micro-grants to like-minded organizations supporting women and girls. When I saw the offering of a Certificate in Non-Profit Management as an option in this program, I was smitten and immediately called to see if you were still accepting applications.

The MSW program will provide the tools to truly make a difference. My goal is to leave a legacy that inspires and empowers others. Through the creation of Tranquil Space, TranquiliT, Hip Tranquil Ventures, and Tranquil Space Foundation, I strive to weave in social consciousness throughout. From charity donations to planting trees to adopting animals to volunteering to using eco-friendly fabrics and reusable materials, this notion is at the core of all I hope to do. As a facilitator of classes, workshops, trainings, and retreats, I desire to offer more and in the most meaningful way possible. For example, learning how to work with group dynamics, adjust expectations, provide support, and establish boundaries will allow me to be the best facilitator, manager, and visionary I can be. In addition, the opportunity to grow Tranquil Space Foundation to a national (even global) level will be enlightened through the skills strengthened in this program.

One offering that I’ve recently added to my portfolio is mentoring. I work with many women who feel stuck in a particular aspect of their lives – mainly professionally and creatively. Being able to offer more in-depth work through mentoring can only benefit my clients even more. Another area where I see the MSW assisting with my mission of leaving a legacy is through my writing. I’m currently finishing my second book, and enjoy writing a well-read blog plus articles for various publications. This degree will allow me to go deeper in my desire to inspire and serve the reader.

From 2001 to 2004 I was building Tranquil Space, teaching up to 18 classes (full-time for a yoga teacher), and attending graduate school. I missed only a handful of classes during my tenure, received high marks, and finished in three years despite the estimated four years for part-time. Fitting this program into my schedule will not be a problem and will be an honor. I cannot wait to dive into the material this fall.

There is a mantra in yoga that I adore and state at the end of every class I teach: lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu. It translates to, “May all beings everywhere be happy and free. May the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” Since learning this mantra, it has become a manifesto of sort for my life. My hope is that though the material learned in the MSW program I will be able to make a larger contribution to others. Thank you for your consideration.