Have you written a diversity essay in the past? If no, we will show you best practices in writing a diversity secondary essay.
Asking you to write about your experiences with diversity isn’t meant to exclude those who are traditionally well-represented in higher education, and thinking about diversity “broadly defined” offers opportunities to reflect on your unique traits, experiences, and identity.
Many applications now include a question sometimes optional that encourages applicants with minority backgrounds, unusual education, distinctive experience, or unique family histories to write about how these elements will contribute to the diversity of their target school’s class and community.
Diversity Secondary Essay: What is “Diversity?”
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to the diversity secondary essay – a now-common essay prompt for medical schools and professional programs of all sorts.
In particular, some critics assume that “diversity” is some kind of politically correct code word, and stemming from a similar misunderstanding some assume that if they are part of a “majority” (whether this means an ethnic majority, linguistic majority, or even a majority within a discipline), then that means they can’t be “diverse”.
These are both incredibly unfortunate and carry a wealth of assumptions that need to be addressed before discussing how to write a great secondary essay on the topic of diversity.
Definition of The Diversity Category
Any medical school secondary essay either asks how your unique experience as a part of a subculture has influenced the way you intend to approach medicine.
OR how your exposure to a particular subculture has influenced the way you intend to approach medicine.
The focus should be not on your particular opinions of the subculture, but rather on your lived experiences and how they landed on you.
Avoid attempts to universalize and reach beyond yourself — instead, stay focused on what you have directly experienced, and analyze how it has affected you.
Why Does Diversity Matter at School?
Admissions officers believe diversity in the classroom improves the educational experience of all students.
The more diverse perspectives found in the classroom, throughout the dorms, in the dining halls, and mixed into study groups, the richer the discussions will be and the more creative the teams will become.
Plus, learning and growing in this multicultural environment will prepare students for working in our increasingly multicultural and global world.
In medicine, for example, a heterogeneous workforce benefits people from previously underrepresented cultures.
Businesses realize they will market more effectively if they can speak to different audiences and markets. Schools simply want to prepare graduates for the 21st-century job market.
7 Different Ways to Show Your Diversity
A particular company wants to know about your diversity elements and the way they have helped you develop particular character and personality traits, as well as the unusual experiences that have shaped you.
Here are seven examples you could write about:
1. You grew up with a strong insistence on respecting elders, attending family events, or learning your parents’ native language and culture.
2. You are close to grandparents and extended family who have taught you how teamwork can help everyone thrive.
3. You have had to face difficulties that stem from your parents’ values conflicting with yours or those of your peers.
4. Teachers have not always understood the elements of your culture or outside-of-school situations and how they influence your performance.
5. You suffered from discrimination and succeeded despite the discrimination, because of your grit, values, and character.
6. You learned skills from a lifestyle that is outside the norm – living in foreign countries as the child of diplomats or contractors; performing professionally in theater, dance, music, or sports; or communicating with a deaf sibling.
7. You’ve encountered racism (either towards yourself or others) and responded by actively promoting diverse, tolerant values.
Diversity Secondary Essay Examples: by Evan Shih, DGSOM MS3
As a heterosexual Asian-American male from an immigrant family with aspirations of applying to medical school, I wasn’t exactly jumping to the top of anybody’s diversity checklist, at least not in the classic sense of “racial background, sexual identity, and social background”. However, I wanted to show medical schools that despite growing up in an “cookie cutter” suburban community, I still possessed experiences that provided me with both an enriched background and an open-minded outlook.
With my diversity essay, I sought to exhibit the fact that I was eager to learn more about the diverse patient population that I was going to serve in the future.
I wrote about my experiences volunteering with a homeless clinic and the multitude of patient backgrounds in the Greater Los Angeles area: recently displaced families, chronic cocaine addicts, veteran war heroes, Latino immigrants, and countless individuals of the LGBT community.
Working with the homeless clinic showed me two things: 1) I knew very little about the world around me and 2) If I wanted to practice medicine in Southern California, I needed to hone my Spanish skills. These two realizations compelled me to plan a summer trip to Cusco,
Peru with a friend. For 3 weeks we took medical Spanish, learned to salsa dance, and hiked the Inca Trail. My multicultural experiences in both Peru and inner-city Los Angeles provided me with an understanding of the many different patient backgrounds.
I would encounter as a physician, and I wanted to show schools that I was confident that I could contribute the same enthusiasm and capabilities in medical school.
As you prepare to tackle your essay, remember the example I have given to you. There are many other ways to show diversity!
All you need to write successfully about how you will contribute to the rich diversity of your target school’s community is to examine your identity, deeds, and ideas with an eye towards your distinctiveness and individuality.