Medieval History/History Personal Statement
My grandmother’s maiden name is Marx. Her uncle, the world-renowned landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, was Karl Marx’s great-nephew. This fact, while seemingly trivial, has worked to strengthen the spark history has ignited within me since I was old enough to read. Knowing that I am distantly related to a man whose impact on the world affected the course of history prompted me to delve deeper into the past and feed my love for anything historical.
I was born in Brazil, a country with a rich background. Learning about the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500, and Princess Isabel’s Golden Law, which abolished slavery, was fascinating and never felt like homework. As I grew older and as my historical interests broadened, however, I realized I needed to travel beyond the textbook to explore new areas of history. My piano teacher at the time had a library full of books on medieval Europe, and she would often flip through the pages of a thick volume and read me a chapter. It turned out that in a room with creaky floorboards and in size 12 font lay the era that would become my passion: the Middle Ages.
From then on I devoured anything medieval. I wrote historical fiction daily and had my closet doors almost give way to the amount of period gowns cluttering it. Unfortunately, it was almost impossible to find history books in my hometown, so I was ecstatic when my family decided to move to Canada when I turned fourteen. Here I was able to deepen my knowledge not only through massive selections at bookstores, but also through the IB History course I chose to take.
Immersed in a demanding course and with a committed teacher, I found in my History class a second home. I read the works of famed historians such as Henry Kissinger and Richard Pipes, and became acquainted with the first half of the twentieth century. My analytical skills improved immensely, and my lineage drove me to apply myself to a greater extent as I studied, for example, the Russian Revolution. I became an active member at the History Club at my school, where heated discussions are held and where students are encouraged to develop a deeper enthusiasm for history.
It was through my History course that I had the opportunity to write an extended essay on medieval Britain. My intention was to discover the extent to which Robin Hood was real. I read books by historians JC Holt, Stephen Knight and many others, as well as analyzed ancient ballads and chronicles. By investigating the lives of the medieval outlaws Fulk Fitzwarin, Roger Godberd and Eustace the Monk, I was able to produce an answer to my research question. While I was proud of my finished draft, my fingers itched to write more – something that I hope to do in university.
Aside from my historical interests, this year I have volunteered weekly at the local food bank and acted in a play with the White Rock Players. These experiences have taught me to overcome my introversion and strengthen my sense of responsibility and teamwork. I speak Portuguese and Spanish fluently, skills that may prove useful throughout my academic life. I also spent the month of July studying Creative Writing and English Literature at a summer program at Cambridge University, and scored an A+ in both courses. Living by myself in the dorms helped me assert my independence and develop my individuality, which I believe is important when it comes to seeing historical figures as individuals and understanding their motivations.
I have known I wanted to study it at a higher level since I walked into my piano teacher’s library years ago and came upon piles of books about the Middle Ages. After graduating from university, I would like to publish both historical fiction and non-fiction, thus keeping history close to my heart and inspiring readers through my writing. I sincerely believe nothing would make me happier than going to university and expanding my knowledge, and I look forward to doing so in the near future.
This personal statement was written by wesmile for application in 2011.
wesmile's university choices
University of Glasgow
The University of Edinburgh
University of St Andrews
Green: offer made
Red: no offer made
This is my fourth and final draft. I had fun writing it and I hope whoever reads it can find the inspiration to write their own!
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