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Understanding technological assets is crucial for those who survey politics or govern.

As an
undergraduate, I studied information technology and the Internet. While a researcher for my institute’s
Lab for Social Computing, I came across an array of uses of the World Wide Web, the breadth of which
struck me: oppressed citizens publishing blogs to circumvent restrictions on free speech; corporations
moving operations online to enable worldwide growth; and members of virtual communities forging
relationships that often spanned thousands of miles. It was clear that the Internet, if properly cultivated,
had potential bound only by human creativity.

On a personal level, the Internet exposed me to a more open-minded world than the small, middle-
American town I grew up in. As I struggled to reconcile my sexuality and religious values, the Internet
became my constant escape, an alternate reality with seemingly endless knowledge to absorb. Before
long, this knowledge allowed me to shed many misconceptions I had inherited about myself and others.
Similar effects as these within the global population have caused political opinions about the Internet to
polarize. Constrictive regimes prohibit use of the Internet as it inherently promotes freedom while
democratic ones embrace it for the same reason. It is the potential for technology to empower society
through government that partly fuels my pursuit of a political science education.

Of equal influence are my fascination with American government and political thought and my desire to
explore how technology interacts with personal liberty, democracy, and other areas within the political
landscape. The visceral excitement I feel for politics parallels my passion for technology, a passion I
channeled into a diverse undergraduate education and a position at Microsoft while co-founding an
Internet start-up. Now, after much informal investment, I am certain that graduate school is necessary
to achieve the level of political acumen I aspire to.

During my undergraduate career, I learned from engaging professors in my college honors program and
thrived at domestic and foreign institutions. At Microsoft, where I have been repeatedly recognized for
my performance, I work alongside software visionaries, creating a new paradigm for office applications
used by hundreds of millions of people. My path to political science has been circuitous, and my eclectic
background can be an asset to my studies and to the University of Maryland, College Park. With faculty
such as Dr. Mark Graber and Dr. Wayne McIntosh, whose sub-field and research interests I share, and a
reputation for scholastic achievement and academic rigor, the University of Maryland's program is one I
believe I can excel in. The university's proximity to our capital would also provide a unique advantage to
my work.

John Adams, in "Thoughts on Government", expressed a belief which I share regarding the importance
of education. "Laws for the liberal education of youth," he wrote, "...are so extremely wise...no
expence...would be thought extravagant." Throughout my life, education has played a deeply
meaningful role, one that has instilled in me a desire to contribute back as an educator myself. Upon
graduating, however, as I enjoy hands-on experience and believe it necessary to complement academic
study, I intend to enter the public policy arena, investing my abilities in directly helping the American
people. After gaining practical understanding of the issues, I plan on returning to academia, where I
hope to inspire in others--as my teachers did in me--a passion for technology, political science, and
learning.