Two of my grandparents and three of my friends had recently died within a few months of each other. I was down, depressed, shocked and angry—not with God, but with myself. It was just after grades were posted, and I had received an email informing me that I was on academic probation with the school of journalism. I had come so far since high school graduation, but I found myself slipping back into depression. It was May, 2009, and I had just completed one of my worst semesters. I had been in this situation before with disastrous results at the College of Charleston. I knew that something had to change quickly or I would not be at the University of Kansas for long. I made an appointment with a psychiatrist and dedicated myself to pulling out of this downward trend. We met several times and I was prescribed an antidepressant. The summer session was starting soon and I needed to do well in order to to get off academic probation. I needed to develop tools for overcoming the depression that had plagued me since I was a child. With the help of my psychiatrist and the prescribed medication, I learned how to beat depression, realizing my strengths in the process.
I had an extremely busy summer ahead of me. I was enrolled in three classes—all of them upper level courses. When I began taking the medication and visiting with the psychiatrist, I could immediately feel a difference. I had motivation and I was focused. Classes started a couple of weeks after that, and I was soon studying the First Amendment, journalism ethics and oral history. I had never been so eager to learn. I already knew that I could write but I didn’t know much about my research skills. For the First Amendment class, I had to research and defend one side of a freedom-of-speech-related case. Every class period featured two teams debating a case as if it was a real trial. The case and position for each team was predetermined by the professor. As journalism students, we were not versed in legal vernacular or procedure, but we knew how to argue. I poured through Supreme Court decisions. I did research on relevant statutes and combed the internet for any piece of evidence I could use to support my claims. I was already at a disadvantage in that a U.S. appellate court ruling favored the opposition’s viewpoint. However, I looked at my research and decided to approach my case from a different angle than the attorneys involved with the actual trial. After spending a long time thinking about ways to attack my own argument, I prepared counter statements to any foreseeable weakness. Walking into class, I knew that I was in a great position to win this debate. At the end of the class, the professor polled the students and asked two questions: which position do you support, and, regardless of who is right, which team provided the more convincing argument? While the majority of the class sided with the opposing view, the vast majority felt that my team had made the better argument. After some introspection, I realized that I thoroughly enjoy doing research and debating a case or issue using gathered evidence. The whole process comes naturally to me. I had finally found something that I could do well and enjoy. A couple of days later, I began researching law schools, and eventually decided I wanted to pursue a law degree.
I finished the summer term with a 3.2 GPA in some of the hardest classes I have taken in college. I knew that I was on the right track, but I still needed to improve. My GPA rose enough, that summer, to lift the academic probation. The next step in my recovery was to maintain my motivation without the help of medication. I decided I was ready for that step in October of the following semester. It was another difficult term, but I had to demonstrate that I could maintain my grades without antidepressants. My English and journalism courses reinforced the confidence I have in my writing and research abilities. I also improved as a researcher— always finding the useful nuggets of information. My ability to put arguments into words also improved as I became focused on my studies. As a result, I performed much better than the previous semester.
I managed to earn a 3.1 GPA. I still needed to improve, but I was clearly winning the battle with depression. In order to confidently state that I know how to overcome difficult circumstances and stressful times, however, I needed an excellent spring semester. I was officially into the core journalism classes for strategic communication majors. Message development, marketing and media research and principles of public relations are among the most difficult classes offered. Those classes, combined with an English survey course and the dreaded western civilization course, made this term the hardest I’ve ever endured. In the course of that semester, I found that I am very good at performing under stress. Life can be stressful at times, and I know how to deal with those conditions now. I continued to hone my research and writing skills, and my dedication resulted in a great semester. I was able to manage a 3.5 GPA, which convinced me that I can overcome depression.
It took me a long time to realize my strengths in the classroom, but, in the end, they were all too apparent. My skills include, but are not limited to, writing, research and debate. I participate actively in class and contribute to the discussion whenever it is appropriate. If given admission to XXXX law school, I would bring all of these strengths with me. In my last year of college, I have found that I truly enjoy learning. My ambitions have never been higher, and I now realize that I possess the skills to succeed in law school. Likewise, my motivation is also at an all-time high. I know that I will do great things in law school and beyond, and I would love the opportunity to fulfill my dreams at XXXX law school.
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