In this project, you will write a short essay that reflects your belief or passion about a particular part of your professional experience. This project will help you refresh your writing skills to prepare for the rest of your graduate program. Organizing complex and divergent thoughts to write a single page requires prewriting, perhaps an outline, and thinking about the mechanics of writing an essay paragraph by paragraph. That means starting with a topic sentence, adding supporting sentences, and concluding with a sentence that provides a bridge to the next paragraph. Your essay is intentionally limited to 500 words to engage you in the structural process of writing.
Step 1:This I Believe Background
This I Believe, a radio program launched by Edward R. Murrow in the 1950s, was revived by National Public Radio (NPR) several years ago. The program highlights the inspiring beliefs of both famous and ordinary people. This project continues today in an online forum. NPR encourages its listeners to submit a 500-word essay on a topic of significant personal belief, and some essays are chosen for airing or for inclusion into anthologies of essays with similar themes. For example, there are collections of essays on the topics of family, pets, home, jobs, holidays, civic duty, and role models. Writers are directed to keep their essays to 500 words, just as you are instructed for this first project.
Step 2: Write Your 500-Word Essay
Now that you’ve done some prep work, it’s time to write your essay. Following the APA formatting guidelines as described in the APA Citations resources located in References and Citations, set up your paper defaults and create a cover sheet. You will double-space this essay, as you will all your work going forward unless directed otherwise. You will not have a References page for this assignment, but when you do for future assignments, your References page will be a separate page.
I’d like to know what you value and what’s important to you about your profession, your industry, your career, or your education. This is challenging! It requires a level of introspection so deep that no one else can do it for you. Use the following suggestions, adapted from This I Believe, as a guide:
- Name your belief—If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. You are writing an essay, not a list. Focus on one core belief, which you will explain, define, and develop through the essay.
- Tell a story—Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in specific events of your life. Consider moments when your belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, and life, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your professional or educational philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs. Tell me how you reached your beliefs, and if they have grown, what made them grow. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should be real.
- Be positive—Please avoid preaching, editorializing, or finger-pointing. This essay should not be about your views on the American way of life, democracy, or capitalism. (These are important but for another occasion.) This essay should explain what you live by, what you DO believe, not what you don’t believe.
- Be personal—Avoid speaking in the editorial “we,” the projecting “you,” or the accusing “they.” The project is “this I believe,” not “this everyone believes,” “this my company believes,” or “this Americans/Russians/Scientologists believe.” Make your essay about you. Speak in the first person. Read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time, edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief.
In a 500-word essay, write a statement of personal and professional belief. Answer the questions: “What motivates you. What’s your professional passion? What do you believe?”
When you are satisfied with your essay, continue to the next step to submit.
“This I Believe Essay-Writing Guidelines,” Copyright ©2005–2015 by This I Believe, Inc. Reprinted with permission.