Monday, December 13, 2004

Statement of Purpose

Sorry I've been so remiss in posting. There have been extenuating circumstances: Largely, we had to put our cat, Alex, to sleep two days before Thanksgiving. He was 16 years old and had had a good, long life. But that was hard, and I promptly got sick, and have been battling a cold and now I have an ear infection. I took the GRE a couple weeks ago, and for the last week I've been finishing my grad school application, which has mostly meant fussing with my "statement of purpose." I'm not totally happy with it, but I had a deadline. So, here it is:

I’ve had a love of writing since I was old enough to pick up a pen. My love for journalism, however, is newer. I began working on my high school’s paper in my senior year, and at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., I worked on the school paper for four years. The moment when I first saw the power of "The Fourth Estate" - and knew I wanted to be a part of it – came during my sophomore year of college.
While I was co-editor in chief of the NCC Chronicle, I learned that red paint was showing up in a river downstream from a pipe draining from the athletic complex. We quickly figured out that maintenance workers were dumping excess paint used on the football field into a sink that drained directly to the river. I wrote two stories which resulted in the state Environmental Protection Agency investigating the situation and forcing the school to change its practices. I won a first place in investigative reporting from the Illinois College Press Association.
I’ve learned a great deal since then, working on the student paper and in several professional newsrooms. But because North Central didn't have a journalism program, I didn't get much of a formal education in what became my chosen field.
Now I believe I’ve reached a professional plateau, and it’s time for me to learn in a formal setting in order to take my abilities and my career to the next level. Earning a graduate degree in journalism at North Gate would afford me a broader vantage point of the field and let me experience types of writing with which I don't get much chance to work, such as longer magazine pieces. I also believe it will give me an opportunity to take a more thoughtful approach to my craft, to help me narrow my focus and chart a clearer path for my career.
I’ve read much about the quality of Berkeley's program and heard it recommended by professional journalists whom I admire. After attending November's informational meeting at the school, I am excited about the prospect of spending two years working with highly-skilled, working journalists and discussing key issues with enthusiastic peers and experienced mentors.
A good friend of mine graduated from the program two years ago, and talking with her has deepened my resolve that this is the right next step in my career. She has raved about her time at the school under the tutelage of such instructors as Cynthia Gorney and the opportunity to delve into multimedia reporting. As a result, Berkeley's is the only program to which I have applied.
My long-term goal is to hone my reporting and writing skills while developing my proficiency in one or two specialties. This could mean more experience covering city hall, further specialization in covering education, or gaining expertise in covering environmental issues, a subject about which I am passionate. Jane Kay’s environmental reporting program is of special interest to me.
If accepted to Berkeley's graduate program in journalism, I look forward to experimenting with other kinds of media, such as broadcast – with which I have no experience – and photography, with which I have some experience. My interest in a wide variety of disciplines, along with my desire to become more highly skilled in specific areas, makes me well suited to a graduate program like Berkeley's.

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