Journalism School Personal Statement
By Jena Carano
Eating an apple is political. Maybe you got it from the bodega downstairs that always smells like burnt coffee and toothpaste. Maybe that apple came from New Jersey, or maybe it came from Washington State. If it came from Washington, a trucker probably brought it to you. He might have gotten tired of on the road, did a little cocaine to keep him up, lost control, and run a car off the road, injuring all five of its passengers.
Maybe none of this happened, but maybe it did. The possibility makes eating an apple as politically salient as voting. The government chooses how much to tax the apple, but we choose to eat it. Dominos fall across the country and tie the micro of our actions to the macro of a global social and political economy where even small choices have far-flung consequences.
Most of the time we ignore this complicated reality, and choose llc operating agreement instead to think about only green or red. But the choice has more implications than color: we’re choosing where it’s from, who benefits and who loses from our simple purchase. The only indicator of this is a tiny sticker that blends into the background of our consciousness. History, economy, and politics hide behind this indicator of difference, and for ease, most of the time they stay there. Most of the time, this kind of thinking can be inhibitive to functioning in a fast-paced society. But, we choose whether to ignore other narratives to simplify our own, or create a collective narrative that incorporates people and places otherwise elusive and forgotten. We choose whether to live in a world of aggregated knowledge and widespread relationships or to just eat an apple.
This narrative can stay on the wide open highways, waiting, or travel to the pages of a publication where it can replace the trucker’s silence with communicated understanding. Starting from a place of a keen awareness of the consequences of culture and the politics of actions, I want to refine my skills as a writer, reporter and critic by attending the Columbia School of Journalism. There is no program in the country that is more attuned to a perspective defined by underlying relationships or that better trains students to not just activate their verbs and modify their adjectives but to think critically about all aspects of their surroundings. I start from an understanding of narratives as embedded in history, politics, and tradition. Columbia starts from the same place, acknowledging these sources and teaching students to understand their importance while questioning their validity.
After having excelled at UC Berkeley and further considered the possibilities of academia through my position with Cambridge University Press, while also pursuing freelance writing and journalistic opportunities, I’ve realized the lens of critical journalism is more attuned to the impact I seek to have. I want to pursue further education that will help me develop the skills to answer questions in disparate fields while staying grounded with strong analytical and critical writing skills. Ultimately, I want to use these skills to participate thoughtfully in public discourse informed by the culture that produces it. The velocity of the present necessitates the immediacy of journalism.
The details of multifaceted realities need exacting language and analysis that contribute as well as critique. I have an eye for details that sees more than red and green and a desire for knowledge and narrative that transcends easy answers. Today’s world doesn’t ask easy questions and neither do I.
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