2nd yr socy grad student here. Need help with PhD Geography personal statement.
My interest in Geography stems from an inner tension inspired by the dual influences of my Catholic American mother and Muslim Iranian father. As a young man, I resolved to mitigate the sense of cultural dissonance by reframing it into an appreciation of the beauty of my unique heritage. This led to my pursuance of degrees in sociology in both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Now these twin influences of personal history and education lead me to the field of Geography.
Sociology has provided me with a strong research and theoretical background. As a sociologist, I have dedicated much of my time to the study of culture and social interaction, specifically gender, social theory, and culture. As an undergraduate, Patricia Hill Collin’s idea of the Matrix of Domination, Goffman & Butler’s notion of performativity, and Foucault’s thoughts on surveillance and power fascinated me. As a graduate student, I learned to apply these theories to education, cyberspace, and the urban environment. How might ignoring gender roles in education be detrimental? How does Robyn Dunbar’s communicative theory apply to social media? Or what is the role of gender in urban mobility and transportation? [Moreover, as an Social Theory TA I learned to articulate complex theories as well as build a research and statistical base that could be used to study migrant flows and population demographics.]
In addition to my current studies, I have performed applied research for CDC’s Department of Health, where I abstract medical and police files that yield valuable larger implications based on the age, region, race, and socioeconomic statuses of the subjects/victims. The sense of collaboration I have experienced by training interns as research assistants has given me leadership qualities, as well as people skills. I also do ethnographic work for SmartRevenue, a marketing firm that specializes in consumer behavior. Here, I observe and report on a wide range of consumer behavior, which reveals vastly different perspectives on American consumer society. Both of these research positions have allowed me to cultivate the writing, research, reading, and communication skills necessary to thrive in graduate and post-graduate programs.
My education and work experience have provided a kaleidoscope of perspectives and theories on social reality, but none have emphasized place. Geography would provide the contextual framework necessary for me to understand questions related to culture, gender and theory. My main interest is Cultural Geography. What role does the cultural landscape play in creating regional culture? How does regional difference impact the social construction of race, gender and class and their intersections? I’m also interested in gender. What role has gender played throughout historical periods and regions? How has gender transformation been contingent upon the environment? And finally social theory underlies it all. How might a Foucauldian understanding of power be applied to various regions? How does Henri Lefebvre’s notion of space apply to contemporary urban space? Cultural Geography would allow me to ask Sociological questions through a geographical lens focused on space and region.
A short-term goal of mine is to acquire as much research and teaching experience as possible while attending XXX, which will provide me with the necessary skills for my long-term goal of working with planning committees and government projects. I eventually plan to use my work experience to teach high school and university level Geography. Earning a PhD in Geography will allow me to simultaneously fulfill my goals while actively contributing to society.
I have visited XXX University and can tell from firsthand experience this would be the ideal environment to study Geography. Initially I met with Dr. H and enjoyed an in-depth conversation, captivated by his panoramic perception of historical world events. Next I met with several graduate students where we discussed their interests ranging from Cuba and Liberia to the military. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to meet with Dr. D and M, however, I feel their interests in gender and social theory resonate with me. Then [name1] and [name2] invited me to sit in on a XXXX meeting. I had no idea something like this existed , but it proved to be another reason I wish to attend your university. Finally, I walked around campus before leaving to appreciate the wonderful landscape. The faculty, students, XXXX and beautiful campus are just some of the many reasons I choose State University.
My upbringing, education and research experience have provided me with a highly critical cultural lens well-suited for the challenges of studying Geography. After completing undergraduate and graduate level courses, I hope to study at your university.
On first glance, it seems way too long. The 3 paragraph from the end seems pointless. Of course your short term goal is to acquire research experience, that is the point of a PhD (and don’t mention teaching, research is all that matters). The last paragraph can also be taken out, it is redundant. Your second to last paragraph was good, I would just end it with that. Other than that it seems good.