So I've got a very strong GPA/CV, I've had quite a few professors tell me they'll write me good letters of recommendation, and I've got a solid 2 years of research experience with one (maybe two) publications. I'm doing my best to prepare for the GRE, all I have left to do is write my personal statement. There are two issues with my background that I don't if or how I should address them in my personal statement. The first is that my research experience is in experimental optics, and I want to research theoretical high energy physics in graduate school. I have an abundance of electives in math and physics to support this choice on my transcript, but I feel like saying that I want to go to X University for Y high energy theory research group will be seen as a red flag. I've always known I wanted to do high energy theory, and while I did enjoy my research experience it only made me more sure I want to do theory in graduate school. I'm not sure how to convey that I really do know what I want to do without sounding childish, and without highlighting that I did not get into a theory REU program? The second issue is that I am coming from a no-name (in terms of physics) California State University. For this one I'm not sure there's anything I can say on my statement. I did win a fellowship and a scholarship while at the university, but they were from sources inside the university. I suppose I'll have to score well on the GRE to overcome this. Anyways, any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you.