I submitted my application tonight, with knots in my stomach and heavy fingers. I am very fortunate to have a Psychiatrist as a mentor, a therapist as a cheerleader, a literary agent who is… an incredible editor, a boyfriend who is a writer, and a dear friend who is a law school grad. All these people helped in forming what I’m going to post here today, and whether accepted or not, I am indebted to them for their kindness. You all know who you are. xoxox
UCLA asked that we write about our chosen major…why…well…
Personal Statement 1
Although as a child I never wanted to by a psychologist, my recent experiences have inspired a change. Within the past two years, my life has undergone a metamorphosis due to a therapist and a psychiatrist. From an angry and defiant young woman to nude model to porn star to Oprah’s couch and guest speaker at Harvard, I never expected the field of psychology to change my life, just as I never expected participating in “Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew” to change the way I live. It is because of treatment I received on television and in an outpatient program that I wish to devote my life psychology.
When my parents were getting divorced, I was angry and court ordered to see a psychologist. When the session began, I promptly told the psychologist he was only helping me because he couldn’t help himself; my introduction to the world of psychology was tainted by the ugliness of my parent’s divorce. In my teens, I led a double life. I was promiscuous and defiant yet maintained good grades as to appease my mother. When she kicked me out of the house four months before high school graduation, she told me I would never finish school, let alone go to college. Still defiant, I graduated and began attending San Diego State University pursuing a degree in Business Administration.
The path from Business Administration undergraduate to nude model and porn star is not as illogical as one may think. When I was a child, I wanted to be famous. I wanted to be loved and acknowledged, and more than anything, I wanted to be successful. Watching my mother do her best to raise three children on thirty-five thousand dollars a year, in a town where the median income was ninety-five thousand, I became convinced that money was equal to the measure of a woman’s success and her ultimate worth. Once I started college, I decided nude modeling was the best way to make money, and when nude modeling money wouldn’t suffice and my grades began to decline, I started doing adult films. It was so easy to be swept away by the immediate and outrageous paychecks. I quit school to pursue what I believed to be my true calling. I was going to be a famous porn star. People would love me and I would live forever, even if it was only on the internet.
I continued down this path for eight years, and the emotional wear-and-tear of selling sex for money began to override any dreams I may have had for a normal life. I was incapable of creating and sustaining relationships, had no concept of a dollar, and hadn’t used my real name since I started porn. By the time I checked into “Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew,” a reality rehab show about men and women suffering from sexual addiction, I had neither the social skills that would allow me to function and make money in this society, nor did I have any idea of what I’d signed up to do. I signed up to process those angry and helpless feelings I’d been denying since my court-ordered psychologist had politely asked me to leave his office twelve years prior. I had also signed up, unknowingly, to reconnect to the innocent and delicate young woman hiding beneath the fake eyelashes. Once I checked into rehab and was unable to dissociate from my own feelings because of a lack of drugs, sex and distraction, the damage I’d done to myself became apparent. I experienced sadness over my parents divorce for the first time. I processed a rape that I’d never told anyone about. And I met for the first time people who encouraged me to have hope in my future.
Over the past year and a half I have done everything in my power to rediscover the woman I am, and to create the woman I know I will be. I’ve been in therapy on a weekly basis since April 2009, and a psychiatrist has become my mentor, meeting with me once a week as well. For so long, I didn’t think I deserved to be happy, to be loved, to be successful– even though I was seduced into thinking these things came with being a porn star. Now, because of two generous people who’ve devoted their lives to the fields of psychology and psychiatry, I am confident in returning to school, in my relationships and when I look in the mirror. I wish to follow in their footsteps so that one day, I may help someone too. I am Jennie Ketcham, not Penny Flame. And I have them to thank for helping me find happiness, set goals, and pursue my dreams.
They then asked for us to describe something we have accomplished or are proud of…. so… thank you… this segment wouldn’t be possible without you.
Personal Statement 2
When I quit the adult business, I began a blog documenting my departure from the porn industry. I wrote daily, mourning the persona I’d left behind, and attempting to find a voice with which to write. Soon thereafter, the blog began receiving serious attention and I began receiving support from readers. People found inspiration in my journey and the courage to make long overdue changes in their own lives. This outpouring of support motivated me to write a memoir, which my literary agent sent to editors and publishers November 10th, 2010. Because of this blog, incredible opportunities continue to arise. From appearing on “Oprah” in October of 2009 to discuss these changes to speaking at Harvard on “Porn, Fame and Addiction,” in March of 2010, the blog has allowed me to connect with millions of people. I am proud to have created something so poignant and meaningful. I am proud to continue chronicling my journey and to give hope to those at the very beginning of their own path. I am proud to have created written proof of the positive effects of good therapy and the blog reminds me of how far I’ve come in less than two years, providing the simple encouragement that I need to continue facing every day challenges.
Last, they wanted anything left unsaid. So…
Upon viewing my transcripts from San Diego State University for this application, it seems there is a negative correlation between the decline in my grades and increase in my participation in pornography. With all I’ve learned over the past two years, coupled with my short yet successful stint at Santa Monica College, I feel as if this may have been prevented had there been some sort of emotional support from within the adult industry.
My decision to pursue an undergraduate degree in Psychology extends far beyond that of undergraduate work. While my ultimate goal is to become a Clinical Psychologist, focusing research, I will at one point in my career be in a place where I can offer an incredibly unique service. Because of my close connections to the adult industry, in the future I’d like to offer free psychological counseling at the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation; a clinic founded by a retired performer, Dr. Sharon Mitchell, that provides the required STD testing for men and women working in pornography. As a woman who has experienced nearly every aspect of the industry, I know first hand there is no service offered through AIM that looks after the emotional well-being of the performers. I would be able to approach sensitive topics without judgment and believe my services there would be invaluable. These dreams are admittedly grand, but I believe they are entirely achievable.
Thank you all for sharing this whole journey with me. From the bottom of my heart.