Thursday, August 7, 2008

Before I Die (in absolutely no particular order)...:

1. I want to be at the place where everybody breaks into the same song and dance (skip to 6:00).
2. I want to swim with dolphins.

3. I want to travel as much as possible.

4. I want to participate in as many humanitarian trips as I am capable.

5. I want to feel completely satisfied and happy with every decision I make.

6. I want to learn from the experiences that may seem troubling, daunting, or terrifying.

7. I want to share my life with someone I love.

8. I want to follow my passions, even if it involves taking
the road less traveled.

9. I want to surround myself with those who love me and rid myself of those who harm me.

10. I want my professors and mentors at
Valparaiso University to feel confident in writing strong recommendations for me.

11. I want to discover enough courage to do

12. I want to bring out the best in others.

13. I want to pay it forward, everyday.

14. I want to spend the majority of my days laughing.

15. I want, desire, and need to live every moment for my Lord and Savior.

I am fully aware that this list is brief, but I figured it's something that I should start...and this looked like a great outlet for me to express these thoughts....I guarantee I'll be adding to it as time goes by. So keep checking back :)

...peace, love, rock & roll...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

So I've decided to enter the world of blogging...

Back in high school, there was a huge fad to keep up with your own Xanga page...and I'm not gonna lie, I truly enjoyed it. Not only for the sake of myself to live journal, so-to-speak, but to also keep up on the lives of those who I didn't see every day. Now that Xanga is basically defunct (but page is still up and running, just lacking recent username is no_onelike_you....go check it out)...I decided to convert to Blogger. During some downtime this afternoon, I spent 20 minutes or so perusing through my old posts on Xanga and they allowed me to truly recall some memories and moments from high school that I had completely forgotten about. Not only that, but there are posts from when I was in internet cafes in Paris and well as posts from my first internship with Senator Thune in Washington, D.C. It's crazy to see how much things have changed over these four years, but yet so much as stayed the same.

I'm not entirely sure what this first post was supposed to entail, but I'm going to use it as an opportunity to throw something out there. I've been working on a personal statement for one of my classes that I'm taking this upcoming semester, but I would appreciate some feedback, especially from those who have had experience writing something similar before. The goal of this personal statement is to allow those who read it (scholarship committees, graduate/law school admission boards) to understand my passions, what I desire in life, and how I became the person that I am today. I'm actually satisfied with what I wrote...and it came together pretty quickly (late at night/early morning typing away in my bed). So here it is...

At the ripe age of twenty, I have already held two valuable internships with Senator John Thune and have served as the Field Director for a congressional campaign. These experiences were not handed to me by virtue of wealth, luck, or family connections, but rather through determination and a strong work ethic that began during my years in high school.

Growing up, I was always a straight-A student who loved working hard in both school and extracurricular activities. The hardest part about high school was not deciding what I was good at, but deciding what I loved the most. After completing my first internship with Senator Thune in Washington, D.C. before my senior year in high school, I was confident in making the decision to venture away from a math and science career and to enter the unpredictable realm of American politics. This is how I began my collegiate education and have not looked back since. Not only have I maintained a 3.96 GPA in my political science classes, but my horizons have been additionally expanded through my experience as an honors student in Christ College, Valparaiso University’s Honors College.

However, my passion for politics has not been fostered only in an academic setting, it has been most cultivated in my work. As Field Director, I was able to see the universality of politics and how it is a field which encompasses all American citizens, regardless of their actual involvement in the process. This is what moves me. Taking a piece of complicated legislation, lengthy executive order, or debatable judicial decision, and applying it to the farmer in northwest Iowa, the fisherman in northeast Maine, and the business executive in Los Angeles. It is not about making a name for myself or ascertaining a prominent desk job in Washington, I believe politics to be a continuous outreach to people from every walk of life. Not only does this sector of study enable me to apply my political science knowledge, but it also enable me to fulfill another passion, a passion for serving.

Because of my personal faith, I feel it is not only my obligation, but my duty, to serve others in as great of capacity as possible. For me, this capacity is public service and politics. Throughout my adolescence, I participated in numerous mission trips to Native American reservations and I also spent two weeks in inner city Los Angeles. Without a doubt, I can confidently state that these experiences of exposure and reality were truly life changing and forced me out of my comfort zone. Although these trips were challenging to me personally, they demonstrated the existence of universal love and personal sacrifice prevalent in all peoples, and I discovered this to be my responsibility to contagiously pass along. These first experiences with public service started when I was quite young, yet I feel that they have catapulted me to actively seek ways to serve in other areas. For example, participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, mentoring younger students, and even becoming a better listener has enabled me to become a more involved and effective public servant. I choose to look upon everyday as a new opportunity to serve and to be made available for others and I truly aspire to continue this lifestyle into the future. I am always looking for additional opportunities to take a week or two out of my everyday lifestyle and to implant myself into a completely different experience, like those I encountered in my earlier years. I have a hard time believing that this desire will fade and I hope it will only continue to grow as time passes.

I look to my future in American politics and public service optimistically not only because I know what I am capable of, but because I know of the strength I have based on situations I have already overcome. As a hard-working student in my earlier years, there was consistent pressure on me from both my parents and teachers to pursue a medical career, or at least a career that “guaranteed” a job. This pressure resulted in relentless stress during my final semester in high school and I eventually broke. I gave up in my classes, finally letting the stress and pressure eat away at my very being. I finished that semester with grades that most would consider to be great, but I left high school with a bitter taste in my mouth and a strong desire to prove not only to myself that I can succeed in whatever I choose to do, but to prove to all of those who doubted my ability to be satisfied with a political science major. Upon reaching Valparaiso University, I had a fire within me that could not be extinguished by the fiercest critics and that fire remains today and continues to grow stronger with every semester, every class, and every experience.

Running with this fire into the future, I see myself in a variety of positions post-undergraduate graduation and I am excited for those opportunities. Whether it be law school, a doctoral program, the work force, or public service, I smile at the thought of even having these options at my disposal. Ultimately, I see myself down the path that enables me to most closely work with as many people as possible and to make the difference that is always talked about in a whimsical fashion. I feel that I have the power inside of me to inspire others, who will in turn, pay it forward. America is in need of a cultural revolution; to find the principles on which the Founding Fathers were guided by 230 years ago. I want to be a part of this revolution and I know that without a doubt, it is my calling. I am not one to stand idly by while others work to make life in America, and life in this world, a better place. It is my duty as a human being and as a believer to play my part, and public service and politics is the arena in which I can be the most successful in working to be a part of something bigger, something to pass on to the upcoming generations.

Everyone desires a legacy, to be renowned for discovering the cure for AIDS, to have settled the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, yet I desire to lead my life as an example for others to look up to. I choose to embody personal responsibility, traditional family values, and faith. Through the outward exemplification of these characteristics in my lifestyle, my legacy will establish itself, if one can even label it as a legacy at all. Perhaps it would be better classified as an unavoidable calling and within my next twenty years of life, I know that I will reflect back and see significant personal experiences that accurately reflect these aspirations, beginning with the experiences of tomorrow.

So there you have it...feel free to comment and let me know what you think :) But as for my first experience blogging, it's been a blast, and definitely long enough...

Phil 1: 3-11