Commission Music

Commission Music
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Thursday, 24 November 2005

Personal Statement

Here's what I'm telling UC Berkeley about being diverse: (Thank you to Jean for helping me edit this)

In an essay, discuss how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity within your chosen field; and/or how you might serve educationally underrepresented segments of society with your degree.

When I graduated from college with a dual music/computer science degree, the dot-com boom was in full swing. I worked at a startup, and startups expect 60-80 hour work weeks. I did not write any music at all while I worked there, because the schedule took over all of my time.

A job was offered at Netscape, with more free time and more money, I accepted. I purchased a MOTM Modular synthesizer and started recording tape music. It became clear to me that my music was more important to me than my stock options. I wanted to be an engineer and a composer simultaneously. In 2001, I was laid off.

During the job search, I continued recording tape music and posting it to Mp3.com. I joined a group of noise music composers on the service. We hoped that by working together, we could raise the profile of noise music in general while also advancing our music careers. Despite having made virtually no money from music, when it became clear that the dot com bust really was the end of the party, I decided to switch my focus towards a composition career.

My father, my brother, my uncle, my grandfather and my great grandfather have all been engineers, but no one opposed this decision. For my own part, I felt a bit guilty at first. Instead of helping to solve the problem of the scarcity of women in computer science,, I was jumping ship. Ironically, I think I may have switched to a field even more male-dominated. (As it happens, almost all of my interests are in traditionally male-dominated fields.) I’m frequently the only woman or the only queer person present at lectures and events, or, for example, in the yearlong program at CCMIX this year.

In 2003, in an effort to learn how one might actually make a living as a composer, I attended the Composing a Career Conference sponsored by the Women's Philharmonic. Almost everyone else there had a masters degree and the presenters all assumed they were speaking to a masters-level audience. Clearly, I needed a degree. I enrolled and completed the master’s program at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. While there, I discovered a fondness for teaching, which will require a doctorate. So here I am.

I think it’s useful and encouraging for women, queers, and other under-represented groups to see people like them teaching college. I hope to be that kind of positive reinforcement when I’m a professor.

Annnnd, I'm not sure this essay answers the question posed at all. Hm. Man, I hate this crap.

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2 comments:

Jen Savage said...

Two commas in this sentence:
Instead of helping to solve the problem of the scarcity of women in computer science,, I was jumping ship.

Use of parenthesis in a formal letter is unusual:
(As it happens, almost all of my interests are in traditionally male-dominated fields.)

Two minor glitches, but other than that... Good work.

goat said...

seems like a good answer to me. i hadn't thought of doing something coherent in this particular way, but now i'll think about it.