[Application Supplement: Academic Career Interruption]
While completing my undergraduate program at UCLA I took a temporary leave
of absence twice to pursue study abroad opportunities. The timeline and circumstances
are detailed below.
In January 2002, I arrived at the Universidad Central in Venezuela for a
yearlong study abroad program. Unfortunately, the political situation there
deteriorated and by April 2002, when the State Department issued a travel
advisory for Venezuela, UCLA decided to cancel the program. Although the
coup attempt was certainly in the news each day, my study site in Ciudad
Bolívar was rather removed from the violence, and I continued to feel safe
in the city. I was also very devoted to the rural organizations that I
had discovered and was reluctant to give up the valuable volunteer work
I was doing. I learned about an internship program with Progreso Rural,
a capacity-building center for social change organizations in Venezuela
funded by the South American Foundation. After some consideration, I accepted
the internship and spent the rest of the year focusing on work empowering
rural community groups. The program offered me housing in a modest apartment
building usually reserved for NGO workers and, though I had to take leave
from UCLA, I was able to remain in Venezuela for the full period I had
At the end of August 2003, I returned to California and enrolled in classes
to continue my degree. It took me some time to recognize that I was suffering
from mild depression, a condition exacerbated by the reverse culture shock
of returning home after a transformational year abroad in Venezuela. Midway
through the semester, I sought advice at the UCLA Health Center and began
seeing a personal counselor. That was of great help, but the heavy course
load I had enrolled for began to take its toll. I decided the best way
forward was to withdraw for the semester, take some personal time and acclimate
myself completely, and then return to UCLA the next semester. I am proud
to say that I made the right choice, and with more than a full course load
in Spring 2003, I achieved a semester GPA average of 3.87.
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good about this essay?
- It explains the academic interruption in the best way possible.
- It is honest and direct.
- It is able to take a bad situation (depression) and show it as a
triumph overcome rather than a disability.
- It is well written and concise.