<p>For everyone who takes the time to read all of this and offer genuine constructive feedback, you have my eternal thanks.</p>
<p>This is the prompt:
In an essay, discuss how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include any educational, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity within your chosen field; and/or how you might serve educationally underrepresented segments of society with your degree.</p>
"My military service has brought many challenges and opportunities. After 9/11, my reserve unit was activated for two one year periods. Having to drop all classes mid-semester on two separate occasions taxed my resolve. The mental anguish from fellow soldiers lost in Iraq left me questioning whether the finite time I have could be better spent. These issues coupled with financial hardships adversely affected my grades. Working forty hours a week as a security guard, I persevered, brought my homework and books to work, and managed to complete my degree with a decent g.p.a.
In the beginning, my academic career was remarkable only in how it was marred with one grade retention, high occurrences of suspensions, and one expulsion; I was held back in the fourth grade, expelled in the seventh grade for possession of marijuana, and suspended for a total of 30 days between my ninth and twelfth grades of high schoolI graduated high school with a 1.8 GPA. It was from this perspective I went into teaching. I thought, who better to teach at risk students than a former at risk student? My actual class room experiences debunked my assumptions and revealed two truths: African American youth do not have many role models at home and grading homework is not that fun; considering that 1 in 10 African Americans are in prison, the former is not surprising.
As an African American engineer, I hope to positively influence youth and expose them to career possibilities in areas other than entertainment. The acute shortage of minorities within the engineering profession is well known and, considering future shifts within the ethnic make-up of our society, poses a crippling threat to the integrity of our infrastructure; eventually I hope to return back to the classroom with more experiences and applications of math that will foster teachable moments.
Lately, it seems there has been a devastating earth quake somewhere in the world every month. Considering the seismic predictions for the continental United States and abroad, there will be many opportunities for me to contribute to the design of inexpensive survivable structures in economically disadvantaged areas. I look forward to volunteering my time with organizations such as Engineers without borders or taking assignments to Iraq or Afghanistan with the Army Corp of Engineers. My familiarity with the region coupled with a structural engineering degree would allow me to affect social changes that would be appreciated for generations."</p>