Application Essay

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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, community service, outreach activities or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how your life experiences contribute to the social, intellectual, or cultural diversity within your chosen field; and/or how you might serve educationally underrepresented segments of society with your degree.

Answer

Title: Personal history

My personal background has profoundly influenced my decision to pursue a graduate degree. My dad did not go to college. He has worked as a businessman his entire life. His strong desire to study has strongly influenced me to pursue academics at higher levels. My mother works as an elementary school teacher. However, she likes to be identified as a lifelong learner rather than a teacher. Her unwavering desire to study has also informed my decision to pursue a graduate course.

I grew up in the Chinese culture, where parents tend to have a lot of influence on the career paths of their children. Therefore, when my father compelled me to pursue architecture at university, I reluctantly agreed; reluctantly because I was primarily interested in issues such as financial information and the world of financial systems. I knew my father wanted me to have a bright future. I also knew that he did not understand that for me, a bright future meant a ruthless, lifelong pursuit of a career in finance and statistics. Therefore, when I finally dropped out of the architecture course and applied for a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam, I knew that I needed to prove to my father that I could take charge of my own academic destiny.

My goal was to study in the United States, which has the best financial system in the world, hence the need to take the TOEFL exam. After convincing my father, I worked hard in the pursuit of the core objective of passing the TOEFL exam. After passing the exam and securing admission into Iowa State University, I knew that time had come for me to follow my heart and pursue my goal with courage.

My undergraduate studies have enabled me to not only gain professional knowledge in finance but also to get an opportunity to work as an intern. At Iowa, I have also been able to interact with people from different social-cultural and economic backgrounds. This exposure enabled me to adopt a new perspective during internship. It equipped me with an endless array of opportunities for dealing with challenges and engaging in community and outreach activities.

Academically, I am particularly passionate about the use of statistical programming languages such as SAS to deal with real-life problems. During my internship sessions at China Citi Bank, I was proud to be part of the team that built the Markov-Switching model to forecast exchange rates. When I presented my research findings to my boss, he was impressed by the superior performance of the model. In fact, our group adopted the model as a basis for future work. More importantly, the research enabled me to understand the importance of statistics in finance in a whole new way. Such achievements greatly motivate me to pursue a graduate course at UC Davis.

At the graduate level, my main areas of interest include financial statistics, regression analysis, and stochastic process. I am also interested in learning new programming languages given the central role that technology plays in statistics. With this knowledge, I hope to secure a job in consulting companies, banks, or insurance companies. In these environments, I will be able to use my statistical skills in the task of nation-building. Upon gaining the requisite experience, I hope to achieve my long-cherished dream of establishing my own reputable financial consulting firm, where I will be able to serve educationally underrepresented segments of society.

The UC-Davis Statistics Program attracts me because it provides learners with  numerous resources to study statistics further. The program also attracts me because of the location of UC-Davis, which is ideal for job-hunting efforts. I also look forward to being taught by Dr. Hans-Georg Müller, a renowned professor who teaches stochastic processes in this institution. I am confident that upon being granted this opportunity by UC-Davis, I will be in the best position to make the best use of my knowledge in finance and statistics to serve the community in my home country of China.

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