Sample Personal Statement

(This client received a letter of acceptance from the college to which she applied.)

As a single mother who has confronted abandonment, divorce, and single parenting, I am committed to helping individuals achieve personal growth.  I am determined to enhance the well-being of individuals from diverse backgrounds, such as the homeless, single mothers, those who are developmentally disabled, and disadvantaged women of color.  As a result of my own experiences, I am familiar with the constant despair and frustration endemic to those struggling to survive.  I am convinced that increasing one’s own sense of empowerment can make the difference between a future of despondency or one filled with hope.  I am applying for my master’s degree in social work because I am dedicated to pursuing my life mission:  assisting others in embracing their inner potential to make a positive life transition.  Preparation for my personal goal began while I was employed at Butterfield Youth Services.  My primary work responsibility involved serving as a role model for children, ranging from age eight to seventeen.  They had encountered issues such as physical and sexual abuse, abandonment, drug and alcohol abuse, bulimia, and severe behavioral problems.  At times, the position was extremely stressful; however, I discovered that I possessed the ability to connect with the children and develop strong emotional ties.  While caring for them, I focused on multiple areas of treatment (such as school, social skills, vocational skills, dating, home, etc.), instead of limiting myself to one area. My main ambition was to help them build their self-esteem and improve their sense of security. By becoming personally involved in all aspects of the child's life, I succeeded in attaining greater communication with the child.  This enabled him/her to verbalize wants and needs to the appropriate caregivers, instead of demonstrating inappropriate and negative behaviors, in order to get individual needs met.

While employed at Butterfield Youth Services, my own life was in havoc.  My husband of twelve years abandoned me, along with our two young children. I had been attending college full-time, in addition to holding a full-time position at Butterfield Youth Services.  In order to go on, I needed support and empowerment.  At first, I thought I would simply give up and quit. Instead, I poured myself into my family, job, and school.  There were times when I grew weary, but I persevered and sought counseling for my children and myself.  Economically, I was nearly destitute.  My ex-husband did not provide any financial assistance or pay child support.  I was earning only minimum wage at my job.  I didn't know how we would continue to exist. I explored different ways to survive.  Then, I received a blessing.  I was hired as a Youth Specialist. at Waverly Regional Youth Center, a lockup facility for male juvenile offenders, My earnings nearly tripled, as I became a state employee with excellent benefits. I felt so thankful, because I could provide for my family and focus on school.  The end result was graduating from college in December, 1996 and being able to purchase a new home for my family.  Several of the children who I had worked with have succeeded in improving their lives and continue to remain in contact with me.

Fourteen years of experience has enabled me to become accustomed to the various needs of individuals, and it has equipped me to act on their behalf in a more productive manner.  My work history, coupled with my life experience, has given me a broader understanding of the need for social workers, in addition to more sophisticated knowledge.  While cultural diversity has primarily been associated with race and ethnicity, diversity has taken on a more extensive meaning today, and now includes the socio-cultural experiences of different genders, social classes, religions, sexual orientations, age groups, and those who are physically or mentally challenged. It is my intention to research the barriers and contributing factors of the problems facing these individuals. I hope to examine preventive measures and identify specific corrective actions. I am eager to determine the long-term impact of these obstacles, and explore the outlook for their future. Through analysis of the cause and effect of their limitations, I would work diligently with others to help promote self-respect and independence.

In my present position as Clinical Casework Practitioner II for the Department of Mental Health, my primary role concerns advocating for the needs of my clients.  As part of an interdisciplinary team, I participate in the assessment of clients and provide them with professional treatment.

Poverty amid plenty is the world's greatest challenge.  My mission involves fighting poverty with passion and professionalism, while positioning it as the center of my work.  Although I was raised in an upper middle class environment, I was often surrounded by people, including friends and family, who were living impoverished existences.  As an adult professional, my primary goal has been to expand the understanding of poverty and its origin, and take action to decrease destitution in our society.  Poverty encompasses not only low income individuals, but also plays a key role in contributing to low achievement in education, health, nutrition, and other areas of human development.  I have been fortunate in my current profession to be able to provide assistance to those seeking better jobs.  I have made gains in helping others by building work-related skills, tutoring students to improve education, and by providing dietary and nutritional assistance - such as introducing better food choices, and motivating others to exercise and maintain an ideal body weight.  Most individuals haven’t been especially receptive to dietary changes; however, they do welcome my assistance in the other areas.  I believe that interventions can make a difference.  Broadening education leads to better health choices.  Improving health, results in higher income-earning potential.  By providing others with a safe place of security and support, we allow people to engage in higher risk, and ultimately, to pursue activities bearing a higher return.  Also, it is my belief that any reduction of discrimination against women, ethnic minorities, and other disadvantaged groups will directly benefit their welfare and enhance their potential for boosting their income.

Although I would like to be involved in shaping the programs and policies to strengthen community life and create optimum social conditions, my focus is geared more toward Clinical Practice. My career goal specifically targets those vulnerable and oppressed individuals who would benefit from improvements in their quality of life. I want to ensure that these individuals have the opportunity for services, resources, and much needed guidance.  I will work hard to achieve positive changes and contribute to a better society.  As a social worker, I believe in a proactive approach, rather than a reactive one. I would like to direct individuals to appropriate resources, and to help individuals uncover their own personal power to overcome life's adversities. Following my graduation and receipt of my MSW degree, I plan to work either in private practice or in our educational system.  As a practicing social worker, I would like to provide my clients with information and referrals for a wide range of health and human services.  My main interests include introducing clients to beneficial services, such as-indigent prescription programs for those who have no insurance coverage for medications, and for those unable to afford prescription medications. In addition, I am concerned with the needs of women - especially teens – who have become pregnant and cannot afford counseling services for pregnancy issues and their financial situation.  I want to assist them in acquiring prenatal care information, through the WIC program and other means of support.  My goal would be to inform those in need of the many available resources, and facilitate services for dental and/or eyeglass assistance, childcare, low income housing, the Heat Energy and Light Program (H.E.L.P.), and Citizens assisting Seniors and Handicapped (C.A.S.H.)

During my employment as a Youth Specialist with the Division of Youth Services, I was expected to provide an empowering and personally individualized social service for the youths and their families.  I was required to provide treatment for the youth.  It was my responsibility to inquire about their friends and family members.  This often led to increased stress and violence from the youth.  Was it possible to gain their confidence, while conveying the personal warmth necessary for supporting youth to become better citizens, and concurrently, fulfill a policing role, firmly and efficiently? For instance, how would I inform the youngster that his drug-addicted mom was unable to visit because she was a bad influence at that time? In an attempt to conform to the expectations that were required of me, I fought my inner feelings and became 'burned out'.  I felt dissatisfied with the job and sometimes worthless.  Looking back, the overall intention of these particular social services lacked clarity.  In hindsight, I have learned that the role needs to be clearly defined; it must be achievable and unambiguous and, most importantly, free of demands that result in various elements of the role conflicting with each other.

Personal Strengths: There are several aspects of personal strength that led me to the field of Social Work. I am highly intuitive, in regard to other individual's needs and feelings.  I can be extremely caring and fiercely protective.  In the professional sphere, my shrewdness, combined with an excellent memory, often translates as business acumen.  My competence includes a sound record of reliability and dependability, and a highly ambitious nature.

Academic Strengths: My academic attributes include flexibility and the capability to widen my ideas and broaden my mind to new limits.  I possess a healthy attitude and am able to stay grounded and stable during transitional phases.  My mental health remains intact during time restraints, while taking on new responsibilities, or learning new things.  I realize that one’s thoughts are important and that this is a learning process for me.  As far as my administrative abilities, I am very efficient with reports, quarterlies, and other paperwork.

Social Network Strengths:  I have interacted with numerous organizations to access services for individuals in need, including regional centers, courts, the Division of Family Services, medical agencies etc.  I have been involved in community placement and establishing services for mentally retarded and developmentally disabled (MRDD) clients, enabling them to lead a less restrictive life. 

Leadership Strengths:  My current job, Clinical Casework Practitioner II, is a supervisory position, which has provided me the opportunity to utilize my leadership and team-building skills.  I am grateful that there is mutual respect between the staff members and myself.  If a difference of opinion arises, we successfully work through the issue in a healthy manner.  I demonstrate open and honest communication and high integrity at all times.  On a daily basis, I convey the message that the least important word is "I" and the most important word is "we".



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