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MA Psychology, Volunteer Work, Alcoholism

I am writing this Statement on behalf of my application to the Psychology Program at XXX University, where I hope to attain a Master's Degree. I also attended XXXX as an undergraduate and I came to deeply admire the faculty and enjoy the campus environment. I appreciate the strength of XXXX's Psychology Department and I am particularly interested in the area of school counseling. As a first generation Mexican immigrant from a poor family, I have faced first-hand many of the obstacles facing at-risk students today, and I strongly believe that this background will help me to become a very empathetic and effective school counselor, especially for Latino and other minority/immigrant children.

Growing up in Mexico and California, I had a very difficult life. After immigrating to the United States, my family suffered further financial hardship. We could not afford to buy or rent a house and so we lived in a trailer. My father was a volatile alcoholic who abused my mother, my sisters, and me physically and emotionally for many years. My grandfather also sexually abused me when I was very young. Sometimes the pain of these experiences left me so drained that it was hard to find any kind of happiness. I was filled with hatred toward my family, friends, and even strangers. In time, I realized that I needed to find some way to cope with these experiences, the memories, struggling to understand why people did these kinds of horrible things and how it was possible to recover from them. It was not until I began studying psychology that I was able to make rapid progress at putting my past behind me and devoting myself to the future.

After high school, I entered the work force because I did not have the funds for a higher education. I took a job at XXX's and worked my way up to corporate manager. My responsibilities included hiring, training, setting employee schedules, inventory and overseeing end-of-the-month closings. But after getting married and having a child, I realized that I needed more out of life. My work was a means to an end and not my passion. I wanted to find a career that was more fulfilling. I also wanted to set an example for my daughter and demonstrate to her that you can accomplish anything you set out to do. So, I quit my job and applied to college.

I enrolled at XXX, Northridge and became the first person in my family to attain a university degree. At times, school was a struggle and language was a barrier. Sometimes, the old demons from my childhood got in my way. As a result, my grades occasionally suffered, but I was determined to persevere and succeed. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know, particularly in the area of psychology, my major. Coming to better understand the complexities of human nature was not easy. With each course, I came to better understand the relationships between cognition, emotions, and actions and how they were multi-layered. With the help of my professors and my studies, I gained a better understanding of my father. I learned he was a typical example of narcissistic personality disorder. Although this did not excuse his abusive behavior, it was a revelation for me that provided me with some relief at least I was not alone.

Doing volunteer work has also fueled my interest in psychology. At the time, I was a full-time student, plus a wife and a mother, but I still wanted to make the time to help others. I have worked at two schools, XXXX, and at the local XXXX. I also volunteered twice a week at a neighborhood shelter. I worked with a woman named XXX, for example, who had recently left a very stressful situation and was living at the shelter. It was highly rewarding for me to help her cope with the difficulties she faced. Volunteering not only allowed me to assist others, but I also gained a great deal in return. Meeting and working with people from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances has given me much broader insight into human behavior.

Recently, I completed my college education and earned a XXX. Neither of my parents attended my graduation ceremony. Although that was extremely painful, it helped me to appreciate how much I had accomplished on my own, without my family's help. I knew that I could not stop now and decided to continue my education. In the future, I plan to become an elementary school counselor, advising children with behavioral problems, learning disabilities and family struggles. The greatest contribution I could make would be to help young people who are struggling to deal with and overcome domestic abuse. I strongly believe that sharing my knowledge with them, what I have learned, the strength that I have found, hope, optimism, the light at the end of the tunnel, will help them to better understand their own problems, put them in perspective, and help them find a way out of the darkness through education and community involvement, just as I have.

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