David Sedaris has an MFA

Since he’s my American idol, I’ve decided I should have one, too (please don’t bother pointing out the flaws in my thinking). Of course, I’m not leaving circus for it. There are several prestigious low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs I can make work from here, and I’m applying for next fall anyway. Having said that, I’m a planner, so I’m preparing my admissions documents now. The following personal essay is meant to be 500 words explaining why I want to join an MFA program and what I expect to get out of it. Please check it out and let me know how you would feel if you were an admissions officer for the program receiving this. Your critical feedback is greatly appreciated! 

Admissions Personal Essay

Since the day I joined the circus, I’ve been wondering what comes next.

My career as a flying trapeze artist has taken me to new heights both physically and emotionally. From finding stability in a multinational commune that drifts around Japanese parking lots to squeezing my aging bum into a sparkly bikini to endure daily death-defying feats, the past four years have been more exciting than a bear on a high wire. How, exactly, do I top this?

You would think I’d mark overcoming challenges related to fears, injuries, and living overseas as most significantly shaping my life, but what shook my foundation more than Japan’s frequent earthquakes was the process of adopting a dog. Of all things! Bill, an 18-pound, dead-inside, chicken-wire-cage-living puppy-mill survivor changed my life by compelling me to relentlessly battle the unimaginable suffering fueled by greed and ignorance from which he came.

A year, a Bill, and several foster dogs into my animal welfare re-education, I tried my hand at inspiring people to adopt by compiling and selling an anthology of rescue stories. With no prior experience in editing and publishing, I enlisted the help of scholarly friends and partnered with nine rescues to collect success stories. Within a month, we received more than 100 personal accounts weaving a heartwarming tale of selfless giving and adoption success. That first Lost Souls: FOUND! book grew into a 24-volume series, a ground-breaking best practices manual, and a sold-out multi-media theater production attacking animal cruelty from every angle (including the ceiling). These efforts raised more than $40,000 for animal welfare organizations and licked thousands of hearts and minds.

I’d still be working my tail off for the dogs if Colorado hadn’t been so darn cold. On the first day of 2012, a frosty wind blew me across the map to enjoy a few days of California sunshine before returning to teach sales management at the University of Colorado. Flying trapeze was my favorite hobby, so I swung by a school in Escondido, where I met an accomplished flyer who was moving to Japan to perform in a traveling show. A few months later, I was moving, too.

Now, I live in the shadow of a big, pink tent, flying by day and writing by night. Bill is here, the sweet sound of his snoring like a feather tickling my fingers, taunting me to finish the work I began. He’s right; it’s obvious. The determination, bravery, and willingness to take direction required for trapeze has been preparing me to embrace graduate study in writing. While noted for evoking empathy through humor and color, my writing is a teething puppy indiscriminately chewing up a house. As X is one of the country’s leading MFA programs featuring guidance from the likes of X and X, I believe you will nurture its mouthiness into an effective bite. By graduation, I expect to complete Fifty Fosters, a lighthearted yet powerful memoir of an accidental dog lover, and find footing in other genres as well.

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