Quem sonha em fazer a graduação nos EUA já sabe (ou deveria saber) que o personal statement é um item importantíssimo do processo de candidatura. Ele tem o poder de revelar às universidades quem são os candidatos para além do histórico escolar e das notas em provas.
O personal statement nada mais é do que uma redação em que o candidato conta quem ele é e compartilha informações que quer que as universidades saibam. Uma redação subaproveitada por ser determinante para a rejeição de um aluno que, mesmo tendo boas notas nos testes padronizados (SAT e TOEFL, por exemplo), não consegue demonstrar à instituição todo o seu potencial.
Este, felizmente, não foi o caso de Gustavo Torres, de 17 anos. O jovem, nascido e criado na periferia de São Paulo, foi aprovado este ano em cinco universidades de excelência dos Estados Unidos: Columbia, Duke, Harvard, MIT e Stanford, optando pela última.
Gustavo compatilha na íntegra a redação que o ajudou a ser aceito em Columbia, Duke, Harvard e Stanford – isso porque essas instituições utilizam a mesma plataforma para o envio das candidaturas, chamada de Common Application. Para o MIT, foi enviada outra redação.
PROPOSTA: Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. (Word limit: 650)
I like to compare life to a jigsaw puzzle. We are constantly looking for pieces to complete the inside of our borders, which are the values we define as our guidelines. While looking at my story, I learned that my community, Capão Redondo, had an essential impact on the way I pieced my life’s puzzle together. The adversities I faced in Capão Redondo ultimately inspired the persistence I needed to overcome challenges and define my own values.
During the ‘90s, the UN considered Capão Redondo one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the world. Although things here have improved, it’s still not a paradise. When I leave home at 5:30am to go to school, I often see men smoking marijuana next to my door. On the street, I have to keep a fast pace to avoid getting mugged. Drug trafficking, poor educational opportunities and, most notably, lack of dreams plague the community and create an environment where bad influences prevail. Surrounded by such an atmosphere, I realized early on that only perseverance would allow me to find the right pieces to expand my puzzle.
In 2010, I was awarded a scholarship to one of the best private schools in São Paulo through ISMART, an NGO that invests in talented young students. The school’s labs, pools and gyms contrasted significantly with the poor infrastructure of my previous school, where the majority of ceilings, desks and windows were broken. Against all odds, I flourished in this newfound environment and in the process, found a new set of puzzle pieces with which to work.
Although this school offered unique academic opportunities, it also provided a new social challenge. I entered a wealthy world, where people traveled abroad during vacations, went to beach houses on the weekends and celebrated parties at expensive venues. I didn’t exactly fit in there. While private chauffeurs drove my peers to school, I faced a two-hour long bus ride every day. As time passed, however, I adapted to that world and learned how to balance the contrasts between the two opposing realities I lived in.
The perseverance I learned from Capão and the opportunities ISMART offered me filled me with courage, drive and goals to succeed in a vastly different context. All of this culminated in one of the greatest experiences I have ever had in my life: participating in a summer program at Yale University. When I first learned about the program, I thought I would never be selected from such a competitive pool of applicants from all around the world. However, a few days later, I decided I couldn’t let such an opportunity slip through my fingers simply because I felt insecure. I applied and was accepted into the program with a full scholarship. After earning this scholarship and excelling in the program, my effort made me realize that there are no boundaries to my potential.
Puzzles are about trying to make sense of the pieces. Similarly, life is a constant effort to find the experiences that fill our existence. Capão placed a set number of pieces in front of me with which I was not satisfied, so I decided to look for more in other places. Studying, discovering new worlds, and achieving what seemed to be improbable were some experiences that broadened my horizons. However, I want to do more than just build my own story; I also want to enable others to do the same. As I continue gathering pieces, I want to share everything I learn and accomplish along the way in order to empower my peers and my community to overcome challenges, expand their borders and thus produce a dazzling picture for society’s puzzle.