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I've been working on this Personal Statement for months now and I think it's ready to go public. I know it's far from finished, so I would appreciate your critique. The University of Edinburgh is my only option for Graduate Studies at the moment, so I need an essay that will get me in! I need to present a Personal Statement and a document about "Relevant Knowledge" on the field. Each one has to have 3,500 characters or less. Please correct any grammar and punctuation errors, as I am not an English native-speaker. Thank you very much!! _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Personal Statement Guidelines This should include why you feel you are qualified to enter the programme and how you think it may affect your career prospects. If you are applying for a Masters programme and your chosen programme has more than one area of specialism or theme you should indicate here which area(s) you wish to specialise in (max 3500 chars – approx. 500 words). Seeking a degree in language studies had never crossed my mind by the time I finished Secondary School. All I wanted to be was an electric bass player and songwriter, thus I set my mind on achieving so. After four semesters in one of the best music schools in Mexico, I understood that what I found most appealing was not the process of making and performing music, but the feeling people get when they listen to it. The psychological approach fascinated me, as I understood music as a language – an old passion of mine, all human beings are fluent in a non-conscious way. Even though Universidad Iberoamericana, my alma mater, could not offer a more extensive curriculum on areas pertaining to language because it is a more clinically-oriented school, I have made my way as a research-oriented student, known within the Department of Psychology because of my passion for this topic. This enthusiasm became a part of my life since my teenage years, while studying Etymology and Psychology classes in Secondary School. The fact that sounds and silences, images, and movements can be arranged in certain manners to symbolise something that might be utterly intangible is something that amazes me to this very day. By my seventh semester, I led two important research projects concerning this topic. The first is about the learning process of a second language and its ties to motivation. I am currently involved in the second –and biggest one yet: the parallel development of two languages in first generation Mexican immigrant children in New York City and the effects it has on their education. To obtain a Masters Degree in Evolution of Language and Cognition will be a massive step towards my ultimate goal, which is becoming an experienced researcher and a University Professor in language studies. It will undoubtedly complement the data I received in these topics during my undergraduate, the readings I have done, and should impulse my career in an enormous manner. Personally, I opted to look for a programme that could give me the most extensive knowledge in the areas that I am choosing to specialize in, where the most experienced and brilliant minds instruct newfound talents, and where academic life is so much better established than in Latin America. It has become evident that studying in the United Kingdom, especially in Edinburgh, is the way to go. The programme –which combines diverse areas, such as philosophy, psychology, and informatics, is the most complete among the several I have looked into. Cognitive Science and Linguistics Doctorate Programmes in American and other European Universities have failed to attract my attention the way The University of Edinburgh has. The opportunity to work with the Language Evolution and Computation Research Unit will be a cornerstone in my formation as a productive scholar in the field of language evolution, and a chance for me to give back something to the field that I love. My short-term plans after graduating include continuing my studies in a Doctoral programme (hopefully at The University of Edinburgh as well) which can give me the practical experience to go with the theoretical side of the Masters Degree. Following this, I intend to become a university professor in my home country to transmit my knowledge and to start a research group in this subject. I see myself as a prolific researcher, publishing in journals and writing my own books for the further growth of the field. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Relevant Knowledge Guidelines: This may include details of required laboratory, computer programming, specialised software packages skills or voluntary work that you have undertaken pertinent to the programme. If you have not yet finished your first degree, please tell us about the programme of study you are taking (max 3500 chars – approx. 500 words). As a last year student in Psychology, I have acquired a wide array of knowledge such as various theories of the mind, a current state of cognitive sciences, and a glimpse of theories of the evolution of language, as well as countless valuable experiences, including the opportunity to be part of several research programmes and learning from experienced professors. Because the Department of Psychology at Universidad Iberoamericana is so clinically-oriented, I have had to do some extensive reading on my own account regarding language and cognitive sciences. Among the publications I have studied are Michael Tomasello's "The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition," "Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition," and "Origins of Human Communication"; and Andy Clark's "Being There: Putting Brain, Body and World Together Again," "Mindware: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Cognitive Science," and "Natural Born Cyborgs." I have also done select readings by Steven Pinker, Gary Marcus, Kenny Smith, among other well-renown authors. Using the internet as a great tool for learning, I have been able to virtually attend lectures by Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, Simon Kirby, Susan Hunston, and Daniel Dennett, who talk about the evolutionary processes of language, cognition, and perception. Some pertinent knowledge and training I have undertaken also involves self-taught programming languages, such as C, Java, and Perl. During my undergraduate education I have taken the following courses, which might be relevant to the topics in the Masters Degree in Evolution of Language and Cognition: • Methodology of Research Design in Psychology • Philosophical Foundations of Psychology • Descriptive Statistics Methods • Inferential Statistics Methods • Design of Psychological Research • Qualitative Research • Language and Thought • Research Projects _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ David I. Lopez