Personal Statement


 

Becoming a lawyer was the furthest thing from my mind and completely against my life plan that I etched out when I was 12.  You see, according to the plan scribbled in Crayola marker, I was going to be in New York City hustling and bustling amongst the other “I’m important” wannabes  as a magazine writer at the age of 22.  At 27, I would be renowned as the youngest editor-in-chief of a national publication who had editorially and financially boosted the playing field of print media.  At 30, I would be humble about my accomplishments while I laughed with Oprah and enjoyed her raves about my New York Times best-seller.   Beyond that, I would enjoy my career and settle down as a college professor, who would impact her students’ lives with vigor and passion. Everything else would be left up to chance. 

 

Chance took it upon itself to alter my life because chance does not believe in things written in Crayola red by a quirky band geek.  I had done what I set out to do by the time I was 18 as my small ambition took me out of Georgia for undergraduate studies. I wanted to break out of my comfort zone, meet new people, and rid my social fears—and also attend school close to the Mecca of the journalism industry. As I declared my majors of journalism and political science, a clear routed path to law school was suggested by many of my parents’ friends.  But, that was taken with a grain of salt because it was not part of the plan.

 

As chance would have it, curveballs would alter my way, but only allowing for me to understand this equation later on.  In the middle of my undergrad studies at Penn State, as I juggled electives such as Biology 102 when I would rather be learning how to become the next Christiane Amanpour, took on two part-time jobs, and joined extra-curricular activities, I was hit with more than I could handle.  800 miles away an injustice was perpetrated on my family, and in emotional terms, it would be deemed unfair.  19 and far away from home, I could not do much except enjoy that I lived in a bubble and I could face reality later. And slowly I did.  I came home to an empty four walls. The physical furniture all remained, but the lively ambience and spirit had disappeared. The family laughter was replaced by sadness and robotic movements that sufficed for a day to rotate into another.  My family, which is comprised by only my two parents, was pulled into a legal matter that has the making for a plot of a John Grisham novel. Four years later and an unnecessary ordeal with an aftermath that haunted my home has now inspired me to take the reins on a situation that, at 19, left me feeling helpless.  So started my inspiration and quest to become a lawyer.

 

It was something I fought constantly because I believed in my dream as a writer.  20 published articles later and having worked at a law firm for over a year, I started to understand that while we try to achieve an old dream; we cannot ignore the new ones that are sometimes meant to evolve as well.  Living with my parents as I paved my way in the real world with doe-eyed ambition, I began to see the impact that the unfortunate and unfair toll the case forced on my parents. Model citizens of the world, this ordeal caused a break in confidence and disrupted trust.  The more I learned, the more I wanted to fight.  The more I wanted to speed up the dismissal of this trauma, which was unfair and wrong—but I knew that although I held the vessel of expression through words, something inside of me knew that by just writing about it, I would not get where I wanted to go and I would not solve the injustices of the world.

 

I began to wonder how many other innocent families had been put through an ICE raid, been on the wrong side of the prison bars, had their ankles shackled as if they had committed third degree murders and deemed unsuitable for normalcy, and had been so publicly humiliated that giving up felt like the only way out.

 

I will never know why I did not think of this before. Through my life, I believed in fighting for a good cause only to be exercised through one of the most moving experiences of my lifetime. With no room for exaggeration, the Penn State IFC/Pan-Hellenic Dance Marathon, the world’s largest student-run philanthropy for pediatric cancer, embodied everything I believe in as it brought together students across a whole university to fight for children stricken with this unfair disease. Involved with this charity for three years, I got to experience selfless giving from the heart of a 20-something as he or she stood and stayed awake for 46 hours to help a family whose toddler had been struck with leukemia or a 10-year old who spent his time getting chemotherapy rather than playing baseball with his friends after school.  My involvement as a committee member and finally as a captain allowed me to lead others and watch the children beam with smiles as they only thought of this weekend as extended play date away from hospitals, IVs, and tests.  142 hours, 900 captains, 2,100 dancers, and $17 million later, the sense of service and passion I walked away within 3 years, is something I look forward to extending in my work as a lawyer.

 

A year later, with some experience in “legalese”, I realized that my words on paper only reach and do well for those who read them. But my voice and being an advocate of law and justice could actually make a difference.  With my personal experiences, my passion in writing and work in philanthropy, I can use my love for people, insatiable appetite to learn,  and my written and spoken word to make a difference in the lives of others.

 

The idea of fighting for fairness and justice shaped me in my childhood—in race, gender, morality, and judgment—a lesson my father taught me when I was younger.  He always said that it was never fair to judge the person sitting next to me without knowing their story, a lesson that has pushed me to embrace all sorts of people, from all walks of life—a reason that had pushed me to becoming a writer in the first place, and an expanded reason to become a lawyer now.