Statement of Purpose

James is correct that at the beginning of any discussion it is important to define one’s terms. However, definitions alone will not suffice; for if an endeavor is to be successful it must first have a purpose. I will take up where James left off and attempt to state the purpose of Consanguinity. In recent days I found myself writing a different sort of statement of purpose, the sort that I suspect James has been writing recently as well. As I approach the end of my PhD program – long, dark tunnel that it is – I am looking out toward what lies beyond. As most (if not all) of you should know, I am about to finish a dissertation in theoretical astrophysics. However, I plan to leave the field and enter a career in karst hydrogeology (basically studying caves, how they form, and how aquifers that contain caves transmit water and contaminants).

Making this sort of shift at this point in my career is non-traditional to say the least. There are two apparent paths for such a transition: 1) I can search for a postdoc position in karst and hope that this will give me enough credibility as a geologist to find a permanent position in geology, or 2) Go back to grad school to pursue a PhD in Geology. Currently, it isn’t completely obvious which of these paths is best, or even which of them will be available to me. So, in addition to looking for postdoc positions I am applying to several graduate programs. For these applications I must write a “statement of purpose,” and for my situation one of the chief issues that such a statement must address is “Why in the world am I applying to enter a PhD program when I will already have one?” To address this question I began my statement of purpose like this,

Two major passions have played an important role in my life: geographical exploration, and uncovering the inner workings of nature. While related in spirit, thus far these passions have occupied separate compartments of my life. To satisfy the latter passion, I have pursued an education in Astrophysics. For the former I have undertaken a considerable program of expedition caving. However, upon nearing the completion of my PhD I realized that these passions could be combined into a single pursuit – studying the genesis of and processes that occur in karst aquifers.

Realizing that when writing something like a statement of purpose it is often easier to start with a previous similar statement, or possibly a form, I will attempt to modify the above passage to suit our current needs.

Two major brothers have played an important role in the Covington Family: Matt, and James. While related by blood, currently these brothers occupy distant localities within the United States. To satisfy his passion for language, James is trying to finish his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Arkansas. Meanwhile Matt has undertaken a significant program of Physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. However, upon nearing the completion of their degrees these brothers realized that they could be combined into a single pursuit – writing a blog, in which they could discuss, entertain, and share each other’s lives.

While I think this is a good start, it may be that James does not. James, feel free to edit, add, rewrite. As stated in your post, our first purpose is to figure out our purpose. Additionally, this statement is relatively vague, but I think that it is appropriately so. We want to leave it relatively flexible, but it still touches on what I see as the main purposes of Consanguinity. We will discuss interesting (relevant?) issues, entertain ourselves and our readers (i.e. our family and friends), and tell a little bit about what’s going on in our lives.

Now I realize that this may not have gotten us much further toward the task at hand. To address this concern I will make two additions. First, we really need to be thinking about what we want to discuss. Therefore I will toss out several possibilities. You can bite, or toss back.

  • Religion and politics
  • Free will and responsibility
  • Faith and science
  • A good book
  • Mormonism

Second, at the risk of starting multiple threads, I propose our first project. This project will mainly satisfy purpose number two, namely entertaining ourselves and others while we figure out what we’re doing. Shortly I will submit the beginning of a story. James will write the next segment. I will respond with a third segment, and James will provide the final installment. I suggest that each of us stick to approximately 500 words per segment. Let the fun begin!

Matt, the elder brother

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5 Responses to Statement of Purpose

  1. covingtonfamily says:

    I didn’t realize that you had written two blog entires until I had already read the beginning of the story. Now I better understand better what is going on. I thought the short story was your first entry, with you making no reference to what James wrote to begin the blog.

  2. Matt says:

    Yeah, I realized that might be confusing. I waited until James responded and said he had seen the first one, then I posted the second. Probably no one else saw them separately though given how early James emailed me.

  3. NoPockets says:

    Fantastic Start! Love the ideas and direction of this project and LOVE the start to the story!! I also want to take a moment to reflect on mother’s choice of name. It seems so appropriate every time I read it – ‘covingtonfamily’. Despite that she is not, by birth, a Covington, to me, as most likely to my siblings, she represents so much of the spirit that is our family. Thanks Mom, for being awesome!

  4. covingtonfamily says:

    I agree with Katie in that I really like what the two of you (Matthew and James) are doing with this blog. I can’t wait to see how it develops. Thanks Katie for the encouragement to me as well. I appreciate the compliment, but would like to say that it is really our God who is awesome.

  5. Carol says:

    Wow – you guys are so sweet; it makes me want to be a Covington too! I only hope that my children grow up to be like you, reflecting Christ at every turn.

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