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Tutor profile: Evelyn H.

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Evelyn H.
Experienced Writer/Tutor/College Counselor - UC Berkeley Graduate
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Questions

Subject: US Government and Politics

TutorMe
Question:

Both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. have cited Henry Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” as a major influence concerning non-violent resistance. Written in 1849, “Civil Disobedience” was heavily motivated by which war? In addition, how did the main ideas in the writing reflect his thoughts on American society at the time?

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Evelyn H.
Answer:

Thoreau was motivated by the Mexican-American war that was fought between 1846 - 1848 during the abolitionist movement contesting the identity of Texas as a free or slave state while it was owned by Mexico. The US eventually won the war and land as Mexico could no longer financially support themselves. Thoreau’s argument is essentially critiquing the American ego and its conflict with democracy. President James Polk attributed the US’ interference with Mexico to Manifest Destiny, instilling nationalism and entitlement into American society intended to justify the land being overtaken. Thoreau believes that it is a citizen’s duty to act according to their conscience and accept responsibility for their actions. Thoreau heavily critiqued Manifest Destiny as its innate entitlement went against the core tenants of democracy.

Subject: College Admissions

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Question:

What are the most common mistakes when writing personal statements?

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Evelyn H.
Answer:

The most important thing about personal statements is making sure the admissions reader has a comprehensive idea of who you are as a person. Essentially, you are a story teller and the main character all in one. Many students simply list and explain their extracurriculars, which tells the reader what activities you did, but doesn't say anything about your personal feelings about those experiences. Spell it out for them and make their jobs easy.

Subject: English

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Question:

Ralph Waldo Emerson's "American Scholar" contends that all of humanity falls into two categories. What are the main differences between the two categories?

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Evelyn H.
Answer:

Emerson’s 1837 “American Scholar” argues that there are fundamentally two types of people: One Man and Man Thinking. One Man “is not a farmer, or a professor, or an engineer, but he is all” (2) as he represents humanity's innate tie to mindless work. On the other hand, Man Thinking is an individual who transcends beyond this trivial work and exists on the Earth for personal fulfillment, not survival. However, Emerson believes that humanity is capable of becoming “Man Thinking”, in which “him the past instructs; him the future invites” (5). Man Thinking is able to learn from his past and use this knowledge to build himself a better future apart from societal conventions. Emerson goes on to explain how “in the .. social state, .. functions are parceled out to individuals, each of whom aims to do his stint of the joint work, whilst each other performs his” (2). Whether One Man be a doctor or a farmer, the societally deemed worth of any job is irrelevant to begin with as each person is merely fulfilling a role that was laid out for them by society. While the farmer may choose his career, he “is seldom cheered by any idea of the true dignity of his ministry” (3) and “sees his bushel and his cart, and nothing beyond, and sinks into the farmer, instead of Man on the farm” (3). According to Emerson, no individual is capable of independent thought if monotonously driven by basic survival through labor until death.

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