Let this sit for a couple weeks, then made some more changes, primarily to the second half. About ready to submit, any feedback is appreciated!
I know what it is to be voiceless. I was raised in a home where I was repeatedly told that I had been a burden I had been since the day I was born, how I had somehow shown signs of rebellion and an “evil nature” since my infancy. I was accused of being demon-possessed from a young age, and informed often that I was not loved, only tolerated. My birth mother had died in a tragic car accident before my first birthday, and I was raised by a stepmother, who called my success in academics “arrogance,” banning any discussion of my schooling in our home, and a well-educated father whose passivity overshadowed his protectiveness. Any teacher, pastor, family friend, or relative who voiced concern over the obvious dysfunction in our family was quickly intimidated and alienated. I was systematically silenced and broken. I know what it is to be voiceless.
I spent a long time being angry about these things. I left college after my freshman year on a search for answers and enrolled myself in The University of the Nations, an organization offering faith-based humanitarian aid and character development schools across the globe. I spent time in central England, running programs for street children and teaching religious education classes for an international school. I toured the US with a band for two months, designing and putting on programs for youth focusing on empowerment and decision-making. I spent two months in Cairo, Egypt, volunteering at orphanages. I led and participated in local programs in Denver and Nashville, teaching English to internationals, serving at shelters and food banks, and mentoring at-risk teens in those areas. Even as I matured and gained insight into the reasons behind my family’s actions, however, I found myself resenting the fact that I had to play emotional “catchup,” while my peers continued happily down their paths of traditional education. Beyond my internal struggles, actively engaging the suffering in our world was simultaneously inspiring and discouraging.
Everywhere I looked, it seemed human nature itself was overcoming our good intentions. As I spent each Christmas banned from my house and scrambling to find a place to stay, I further resented my situation. I also deeply identified with the struggles of those I was serving, taking on their unanswered questions as my own.
One day, I had a realization: for every hand hurting, there was one helping. I had a choice: either bow to the bad, or fight for the good. So, I chose to quit bowing and look squarely into the eyes of the world. I chose to add my voice to the good.
This choice changed everything. For every sad story I had heard, I realized there was a person alive to tell it, overcoming their circumstances with help from those around them. My mother had been taken from me, but I had countless families who had opened their homes and hearts to me. I could either let my life prove the power of abuse, or use it to prove that abuse can be overcome, that victims do not have to remain as victims. Slowly, my resentment turned to gratitude, and a decision to be the advocate I never had. College suddenly became meaningful, because life had become meaningful. I had an opportunity to get an education and use it to speak for those who were not being heard. I had an opportunity to hone my skills and focus my efforts. I could spend my life on the good.
I believe our American legal system is good. It is certainly not without flaw, but I believe that when used correctly, the law enables men and women to be a part of something remarkable, something created from the purest parts of humanity, that allows voices to be heard and the potential of mankind to shine. I believe our balance of power and protected rights give unsurpassed opportunity for justice to rule. That a race capable of the harm I have witnessed could also be capable of such a creation is enough to captivate me for a lifetime.
My love for our criminal justice system is not merely one of dusty books and political theory; it is one of flesh and blood, one that calls me out of admiration and into participation. My time spent in service to victims in our world has only deepened the empathy I gained from my childhood experiences and fueled my desire to serve as a public service attorney. I am committed to add my voice to the fight for justice. I am committed to the good.
(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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