“I don’t remember writing anything until I wrote my college application.” ~Tony Gilroy, Writer
As the Fall semester ends at my university, many of the undergraduate students that I teach are applying to graduate schools. In a past class I helped teach, students had to submit a resume and statement of purpose based on the actual requirements of a graduate school in their field. Since the resume template that Student Services offers students is uber generic, and advice for developing purpose statements cliche, I decided to develop examples of each for my students.
The below is a statement of purpose that I wrote as an example for my students. I wrote it as if I was still a twenty-one year-old undergraduate student–not with my current background. A point of emphasis that I make with my students is that the purpose is to make a statement. That statement, of course, should reflect who they are as a student and a person. It should elicit emotion, provide substantive information about the student’s qualifications, and it should tell a story. Who doesn’t like a good story?
My story as an aspiring graduate student is below. This statement of purpose is an example of what would be submitted for applying to the MBA/MSA dual degree program at Ohio University.
November 20th, 1993—a day I will never forget. I saw David slay Goliath. “Touchdown Jesus” viewed from above. The stone was a football, and “David” had the last name of “Gordon.” Goliath was Irish. Though I lived in a small, seaport town in Massachusetts, most of my friends were supporters of top-ranked Notre Dame. Thirteen years-old, I had embraced the up-and-coming football program located on Chestnut Hill. And here we all were, jumping up-and-down on furniture in my parent’s living room—some of us in exultation and others disbelief—as David Gordon’s kick split the uprights, causing Lou Holtz to forevermore speak with a lisp. No longer was I interested in becoming an architectural engineer. It was on this day that I truly understood the power of sport, and realized that its grip on my life would never again be loosed.
Sport captivates me through all its facets. It invigorates me as an athlete, inspires me as a spectator, reflects my character—or lack thereof—as a fan, and the competitiveness of sport motivates me to continually challenge my personal limits. Watching Boston College upset Notre Dame, only a year removed from the premature death of safety Jay McGillis to Leukemia—I saw its galvanizing power. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
While it can undoubtedly be argued that sport is equally capable of illuminating the positive and negative characteristics of individuals, I tend to believe that sport is more than a mirror. I believe sport, in its purest form, functions as a well-operated furnace. It inspires participants to strive for personal excellence, continually refining them. If the furnace is poorly operated, however, the heat may become unbearable.
For this reason, I began to explore the business of sport. It is important to me that sport, at all levels, is managed with an approach designed to amplify its positive attributes. Often, the best stories in sport involve committed “lifers” who work diligently in the background to make the miraculous possible. I strive to become one of those “lifers,” by further developing my skills at a program recognized for its ability to produce such individuals.
Realizing that possessing a passion for sport does not qualify one to enter into the professional ranks of sport business, I began to pursue endeavors that would equip me for such a career. A Sawyer Medal Recipient and North Shore Honor Scholar—representing the top five-percent from each school in Northeastern Massachusetts—I found it essential to continue my education at an academically strong institution. Moreover, I sought to attend a regional university that was invested in its undergraduates, and offered a program for aspiring sport managers. James Madison University (JMU) met both requirements, and I immediately declared my intentions to become a sport manager upon acceptance and enrollment to the school.
I would be lying, however, to claim that my dreams of playing professional sports concluded when my eyes were opened to the opportunities in sport business. As a teenager, I was involved with sport as both a participant and a spectator. Whether it was baseball, basketball, football, or soccer; my sacrificing mother was always driving me from one sport activity to another. Following four years of interscholastic sports, lettering in football, basketball, and captaining soccer, I continued participating in sport through intramurals at James Madison University (JMU). I plan to continue my intramural participation at Ohio University if accepted.
As a sport management student at JMU, I actively sought opportunities to gain industry-related experience. Entering my sophomore year, I secured a 35 hour-per-week, staff position at LeClub, Massanutten Resort’s recreation center. It provided me with a background in facility management, customer service, and conflict resolution. Within my first year, I was promoted to night manager and became responsible for managing staff, while ensuring the safety of patrons during evening hours. For league experience, I was able to work this past summer as the league Statistician for the Valley Baseball League, a premier, wooden-bat baseball league for college prospects. Other experiences became available through volunteering, such as the Special Olympics and Relay-4-Life. The sum of these experiences, while not nearly an encapsulation of the sport industry, reinforce my desire and determination to enter the sport industry—following my desired graduate studies as a Bobcat.
I believe that my efforts (and success) to acquire industry-related experiences, plus my record of high academic standing (see transcript), evidence the seriousness of my intentions to attend Ohio University’s esteemed program. It is my hope, that upon interviewing me in person, you will see that I also possess the personality and character traits conducive for success in the field as an MBA/MSA alumnus.