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Programs Environmental Engineering REU

Hi! I'm currently a freshman applying to an REU for the summer. It would be great help if anyone could take a look at it and critique what needs to be changed. As a side note, I know this is a super long personal statement because the program I'm applying for says the word count needs to be around 500-1000 words, or 1-2 pages. If there are ways I can cut this short, please let me know. Thank you! And quick question: is Environmental Engineering supposed to be capitalized?

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My interest in Environmental Engineering began with watching National Geographic’s documentary on climate change when I was 16, with Leonardo DiCaprio solemnly narrating the terrifying repercussions of the crisis over dramatic camera pans of burning rainforests and destroyed ice caps. It was a catalyst, a spark, and from there, my voraciousness to learn as much as I could about solving the problem couldn’t be stopped. How Environmental Engineers were able to combine the natural systems of the earth with urban infrastructure to create a sustainable future fascinated me, and even more so when I learned that many of these built systems equate to quality of life and a healthier future. As a result, it is with this fascination in mind do I look forward to achieving my Bachelor’s in Environmental Engineering by transferring to a four year university. I also wish to move forward with my education by obtaining my Masters in Environmental Engineering and then a PhD to achieve my dreams of teaching and researching within the field. This fascination is also what compels me to apply for ----- program, with hopes of becoming a research aid under the ----- portion of the project.


I explored my interest in Environmental Engineering by participating in the ---- Research Symposium at ----- College and the ---- Research Consortium at University of ----, where I studied the effects of the Iraqi waterways on the biodiversity of the native plant and animal populations. By working closely with my mentor, -----, I was able to use statistical data from analyzing various literature and publications to conclude that toxicants and lack of sanitation infrastructure were causing a direct effect on the decreasing population of fish and plants within the Mesopotamian Marshes of Iraq. After finalizing my research with my mentor, I summarized my findings into a poster and presented them in front of hundreds of university staff and students. This allowed me to develop the public speaking skills and confidence to present my research. As of the coming academic semester of Spring 2019, I hope to take a MATLAB course that will improve my quality of research data for future projects.


Volunteering with the ----- Wetlands as a Steward has helped me build a strong sense of responsibility and leadership, gain background knowledge on the ecology of coastal water systems and wetlands of ----, earn an exceptional ability to work well with people, and further my exposure into water quality and sanitation. As a Steward, I guide volunteers with the restoration process by either helping remove of non-natives and replace them with native plants or with wetland-trash-cleanups. I also come in every three days to help grow the native plants necessary to restore their wetlands under their greenhouse, which has given me data intake experience and built my work ethic: pouring over soil quality, tracking growth over the course of a couple months, inputting data, finding patterns in the data to use as a benchmark to improve the next yield. Taking a Wetlands Management course for my next semester will improve my ability as a researcher and scientist because it will further enrich my knowledge of the ecology and water systems of -----.


As a first-generation Muslim female, I hope to break the systematic sexism of the women of my religion and culture by taking a stride of independence towards achieving my ambitions of becoming a professor or professional researcher. ------ program is a huge step in the right direction and provides a solid foundation for research experience that will prove vital in my path to earning my Masters and PhD. The REU opportunity takes place within schools known to be the forerunners of the academic research behind Environmental Engineering, gaining me invaluable exposure to world of scientific research/academia. Furthermore, ---- provides access to state-of-the-art facilities that I don’t have the means to obtain exposure to as a community college student, as well as helping me build professionalism and leadership skills by attending the social events.


Of all listed research areas, however, the REU's ------, -----, and ----- interest me the most. They all aim to study the mechanisms and systems of water that will prove to be most beneficial and efficient to both the environment and mankind, which is exactly what I’d love to study. In addition, research under the ----- correlates directly with my interests because it not only tries to dive deeper into the question of how to effectively combine the natural systems with urban infrastructure, but also how to improve water quality and ecosystem health. When reading one of the head investigators’ research, I found that Dr. ----- publications on ----- was fascinating due to my background with wetland and coastal ecology; it gave me insight on how deeply affected the ecology becomes through small practices, and how dire the repercussions can be if it goes unchecked. Participating in an REU would expand my horizons as a scientific researcher by applying the experience I’ve gained into a laboratory setting. I cherish the opportunity to taking the first steps needed in becoming an Environmental Engineer and am determined to work hard, provide productivity, and enhance my passion/understanding to hone my skills as a researcher.
 
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Overall, I think your personal statement is quite good. You have a lot of experience. I have just a few small comments, and hopefully others will chime in as well.
  • Everyone starts their personal statement with some story about being fascinated by a TV show or gazing up at the stars or something. I think you could do better. With that in mind, I'd remove your first two sentences and form your third into a spectacular opening sentence. "There is nothing more crucial to quality of life than combining the natural systems..." or something.
  • The wording of the last sentence of your second paragraph could be better. Instead of "as of the coming academic semester of spring 2019", I'd just say "In spring 2019".
  • This one is just my opinion, but I'd reconsider the first sentence of your fourth paragraph. I have no doubt that many opportunities (REUs included) were given to me as a result of my gender and socioeconomic status, so I know that diversity issues are a hard one to balance. However, you might not need to include "female", as you will almost certainly check a "gender" box on the application. In addition, I assume your letter-writers will refer to you as "she". By including both "first-generation Muslim" and "female", it almost sounds like you're just checking the boxes that they look for... does that make sense? Again, this is just my opinion.
  • Fourth sentence of last paragraph, "was" should be "were".
  • Last sentence, "take" instead of "taking".
I didn't read your entire statement thoroughly so there might be some additional minor grammatical issues. Overall though, I think it looks great :) Best of luck!!
 
Overall, I think your personal statement is quite good. You have a lot of experience. I have just a few small comments, and hopefully others will chime in as well.
  • Everyone starts their personal statement with some story about being fascinated by a TV show or gazing up at the stars or something. I think you could do better. With that in mind, I'd remove your first two sentences and form your third into a spectacular opening sentence. "There is nothing more crucial to quality of life than combining the natural systems..." or something.
  • The wording of the last sentence of your second paragraph could be better. Instead of "as of the coming academic semester of spring 2019", I'd just say "In spring 2019".
  • This one is just my opinion, but I'd reconsider the first sentence of your fourth paragraph. I have no doubt that many opportunities (REUs included) were given to me as a result of my gender and socioeconomic status, so I know that diversity issues are a hard one to balance. However, you might not need to include "female", as you will almost certainly check a "gender" box on the application. In addition, I assume your letter-writers will refer to you as "she". By including both "first-generation Muslim" and "female", it almost sounds like you're just checking the boxes that they look for... does that make sense? Again, this is just my opinion.
  • Fourth sentence of last paragraph, "was" should be "were".
  • Last sentence, "take" instead of "taking".
I didn't read your entire statement thoroughly so there might be some additional minor grammatical issues. Overall though, I think it looks great :) Best of luck!!
This is amazing! Thank you so much. Yeah, now that I look at it, it does seem like I'm just checking off boxes LOL I'll definitely make the changes.
 

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