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Autobiographical MS Counseling, African-American

April 17, 2016

I was born in San Antonio, Texas but was soon flown to Tulsa, Oklahoma to live with my Caucasian adoptive family when I was three months old. I would not find out until many years later, naturally, but somehow this fact is relevant to what I have become personally and my professional goals for the future, in ways that I am not yet fully understand or am able to appreciate. What I do know is that given that fact that I am African-American woman raised by white parents, I grew up throughout my formative years with a badge strapped across me 24/7 that said ‘adopted child’. In fact, some of my earliest memories are associated with comments concerning my color as compared to that of my parents. Thus, I wrestled very early on with profound questions of color, identity, parenthood and racism as well, in a variety of forms, some more subtle than others. This is quite clearly a primary factor why I seek to devote my life to at-risk children, primarily children of color—in all shades—those who are in need of community care.

Now 25 years old, along with my undergraduate studies at XXXX University in XXXX, the most formative experience of my life has probably been my volunteer work at the Community Food Bank of XXXX. It is a private hunger-relief organization that provides food and other donated products to 450 Partner Programs in 24 counties in eastern Oklahoma. I worked in the food pantry sorting and putting labels on food cans and also assisted in loading the food truck. I soon discovered that this work gave me the keenest sense of accomplishment and productivity.  I sorted and boxed toiletries, clothes, and toys and later wrote a paper on our experience. One family at the food bank stands out in particular as inspiration to my career development, a stay at home mom, a father who worked for a manufacturing company, and a son and daughter who were both in middle school.  They all came together as volunteers and I deeply admired their communal spirit. They did not have many friends or family in the area and just wanted to reach out and connect, precise the type of spirit that I look forward to fostering in the future both as a professional and a volunteer in the community.

I am troubled as a member of our community here in XXXX by people who are focused primarily on what they do not have, what they are not accomplishing, and what they want. I am troubled by what I see in our community as ‘an every person for themselves’ mentality and envision themselves in a sink or swim environment supported by a life boat ethic that leaves little to no room for some of the most vulnerable among us. I locate this keen sense of social justice that I have been cultivating for some time now to my own experience as an African-American child and later woman in a small American town with few black people and few minorities of other ethnic groups. Thus, despite the fact that my parents were white, I have long felt myself to be the ‘other’ in my own society, which has resulted, I feel, in both my keen interest in questions of identity and my extremely high motivation to excel in your graduate program in counseling. I am most pleased you’re your program in counseling places a high priority on the importance of diversity and the need to reach out to, come to better and understand and subsequently better serve those members of our community who are underserved and from under privileged backgrounds.

Fundamental to my own sense of identity, both personal and professional, is that I am not just African-American or a member of a minority ethnic community; first and foremost I am a woman and it does not matter what color my mother was, either adopted or biological. While studying in college I noticed that there is still a lack of respect and a hostile undercurrent directed against women in roles of power and this made me angry, fueling my rise. I very much admire and reflect upon the long history of struggle on the part of my sisters before me and I treasure the way in which this struggle has made it possible for a young woman to launch her own private practice.

I think most white parents who adopt black children are probably good people. Mine were, still are. This did not mitigate the challenge, however; but my parents did help to cushion the blows as best they could and they have taught me useful coping strategies throughout my life concerning my quest to mold my own identity. I hope to continue to turn to them for inspiration for many decades to come, as I develop my career both during and after your program and I continue to face challenges, especially as a professional who seeks to shoulder a great deal of responsibility and to provide a great deal of care to many, especially those in greatest need who have the least resources for which to repay me. My parents are kind people who also love their community, XXXX, and my autobiography is in many ways little more than a tribute to a couple of normal, good, decent white folks who did the very best they could with a little black girl who was always a real handful.

I thank you for considering my application to your program and I look forward to meeting you in person.

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