Writing your Personal Statement
Your personal statement, in short, is YOUR story, an essay that clearly reveals who you are, what you care about, and what you intend to do.
Student Writing

What is a Personal Statement?

Applications for most of the fellowship programs require a "personal statement." You are allowed approximately 1,000 words to present a succinct, meaningful, and original self-portrait. This task may prove to be the toughest assignment you have ever tackled. The personal statement introduces you to the review committees. A successful statement will grab the attention of committee members, make them want to know more about you, and give them a reason to delve further into your application materials or invite you for an interview.

Initially, you should visit the scholarship website to become familiar with the program's criteria and mission.  Are you a good match?  If so, get writing!  Don’t worry about the word limit yet. Just free write to get your ideas flowing. The personal statement doesn’t require the support of prior research or well-documented theories to build your case. It gives you the rare opportunity to listen to your inner voice and articulate what is most important to you.  Be honest and sincere.  You will write, edit, rewrite and toss out many drafts before you get your final product.

To start, you'll want to address the following questions:

  • What people, experiences, coursework, books, etc. have made me who I am today?
  • What limitations have I faced and how have I addressed or overcome them?
  • Can I identify any common themes throughout my relationships, work and activities?
  • How has my past shaped me?
  • When did I first become interested in my field?  What have I learned about myself through involvement in this area?
  • What do I want to do next and how will I accomplish that?
  • How will the (---) Scholarship help me achieve my goals?

The personal statement allows you to share aspects of yourself that will not appear in other parts of the application.  Remember, it is your self-portrait.  You should use this space to develop personal anecdotes of unique experiences that reflect your core values and aspirations.  The statement also connects you to the missions of the scholarship foundations and awards.  The review committees want candidates who honestly represent the ideals of the programs.

Additional help