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My Ph.D. Personal Statement

Every year I get asked to review and give feedback to people who apply for doctoral admissions. In addition, as a faculty, I get to read multiple personal statements for doctoral degree program's admissions.

Given that many of us do not get training on how to write a personal statement for graduate school, I decided to reshare my personal statement for Ph.D. admissions into the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program at Iowa State University. I wrote my Ph.D. personal statement in 2011.

I hope this is helpful to many people who are interested in applying to a graduate program.

Photo from 2013 when I was at Iowa State University

Personal Statement 

My goal is to work at the university level to educate and influence students to pursue a higher education through an understanding of multiculturalism and issues of social justice. The College of Human Science and Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) at Iowa State University (ISU) has and will hopefully continue to help me attain the necessary tools to develop a better understanding of the field of higher education in the world of academics. The social justice emphasis will help me acquire knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to recognize, value, and promote the differences among individuals and communities. I believe individuals need to learn from the best to become the best, in an educational setting where theory is translated to practice. Earning my Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in higher education will serve as a tool to allow me to better serve my community, my people, and to realize my goal as a professional, educator and scholar.

I migrated from Mexico to the U.S. at a young age. This experience was challenging; I had to make friends, adapt to a different culture, and learn a new language. Mrs. Moyer, my first English as a Second Language teacher, helped me to surpass those challenges. Teachers along with my parents provided me with the support system to become successful despite these challenges. Although my parents only possess a seventh grade education, they have always given me sound direction and inspiration to further my studies. My parents inspired me to choose a career where I can make a difference. Support systems are not the only tool that I have utilized in furthering my goals. I have also sought opportunities to challenge myself to provide knowledge and understanding outside of the academic curriculum.

Before pursuing my Master Degree in student affairs from ELPS, I had the opportunity to teach at Elsik High School in Houston, Texas, and work as an intern in Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) and the United States Senate in Washington, D.C. for Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado. While pursuing my master’s degree, I completed a student affairs practicum experience at the State University of New York: The College of Brockport.

My experiences as an undergraduate and graduate student have helped me dig into seemingly endless opportunities. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Education, English as a Second Language, and a minor in Dance from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and continuing my journey at ISU has helped me solidify a long-time love of mine: helping students to succeed in an increasingly multicultural environment.

During my master’s journey and as a graduate student in the Office of Multicultural Students Affairs (MSA) Office at ISU, I worked with a team to implement the George Washington Carver Scholarship Program by teaching two courses each semester, University Studies 105 and 106, including developing class content and delivery. Due to my passion, creativity, and sensibility for the improvement and development of curriculum, research and pedagogy inside the classroom I have been nominated for the 2012 Iowa State Teaching Excellence Award. The student affairs program has given me the opportunity to grow as a scholar, leader, and person. I have had the opportunity to present at different local and national conferences including: Student Affairs Administrator in Higher Education – NASPA Region-IV, ISU Latino Leadership Retreat, University of Nebraska Greek Retreat, Risky Business Conference, Association for the Study of Higher Education Conference (ASHE), at American College Personnel Association (ACPA), among other conferences.

Currently, as the Multicultural Liaison Officer for the College of Design I have the opportunity to work with talented students, staff, and faculty. I chair the Design Diversity Board, and serve on various committees with in the college and ISU. I also help the college, MSA, and other campus departments with scholarship, student recruitment, and retention. In addition to fulfilling the requirements of my position, I continue to make myself an available resource to students, both professionally and personally, by creating meaningful relationships, critical conversations, and developing a safe environment.

The demographics in this country are continuously changing. The New York Times released an article that stated that Whites make up less than 50% of the three year-olds in the United States and that Latinos/as compose one-fifth of all enrollments from preschool to college (Tavernise, S., February 7, 2011). Although Latinos/as are a largely growing population, we take on leadership roles and engage in educational opportunities in our communities or on a national level at a lower rate than other groups. Through a wide variety of venues, institutions can recognize and address the need to encourage Latino/a education and leadership in our educational system. I strongly believe in the pervasive power of the public education system in doing this. If students can see early in their schooling experiences Latino/a teachers and leaders in their own communities and schools, than they begin to believe that they too can achieve monumental things. Therefore, this country needs a greater Latino/a presence within the education system.

Social justice, leadership development and Latino/a education is something I am passionate about, I believe in the power that education can have in changing a student’s life. Through multicultural education, Latinos/as can bring to the forefront issues that we believe need to be changed to improve the lives of our people and culture and continue to promote equity and diversity. As a Latino scholar I want to add literature to the world of academics and research the experience of Latino/a faculty in higher education. I want to learn about the Latino/a experience, promote education and opportunities for other Latinos/as. In the future I see more Latinos/as being represented in the government as well as business, and in higher education settings.

Currently, an educational revolution is going on, and I want to be one of the leaders of this revolution by educating and building a better world through accurate and culturally responsive knowledge and pedagogy. Obtaining a Ph.D. in higher education will prepare me to pursue a career as a scholar and faculty member at a college or university. I can then provide an opportunity to engage future educators in coursework and practical applications that will challenge their critical thinking skills through the lens of social justice.

The ELPS Department at ISU has challenged me to think critically through all facets of the academic experience, especially around issues of equity and diversity. My experiences as a Latino gay male in the student affairs program has provided me with the tools to better understand the value of equity and diversity in a continually changing educational environment.

I am committed to equity and diversity, and admittance into the doctoral program in ELPS will allow me to blend my passion for social justice and research. After talking with ISU faculty members about the Higher Education Program and my knowledge of the ELPS & ISU Community, I am confident this program can enhance my ability to provide equity and justice through education inside and outside the classroom environment. I believe my strong desire to work at an institution that promotes social justice through teaching and service to society, and my current and past work practice are predictive of my ultimate success in the College of Human Science and Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Department of the Iowa State University.

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