Looking back I still see the distinct image of a man who looked akin to astronaut walking into the room. The contraption covering his face and head reminded me of the gear a deep sea diver would wear in the early days of ocean exploration, complete with an air filtration system that led out of the small isolated room. As I nervously waited to see what would come next, my stomach turning in somersaults, I noticed the odd sphere in his hands. He set it down in front of me and left the room. I looked at the reflective metal sphere, perplexed and unsure as to where this was going. As I reached out to touch it, a strange voice came over the intercom and told me to unscrew the heavy metal ball and slowly ingest what was inside. As I swallowed the radioactive substance, I realized it had been almost a full year since my first diagnosis of thyroid cancer. Little did I know that it would take years of painful surgeries, unexpected complications, and still lingering side-effects until I could say with confidence that I had survived not only my first bout of cancer, but my second, when the thyroid cancer that I thought was cured spread into my lymphatic system. From the day of my first diagnosis, as I sat on a cold metal surface and listened to my doctor explain what would happen next, I knew with certainty that I would survive this ordeal. An overwhelming sense of unknown purpose came over me as I faced every step with determination and strength. I refused to give into a disease that over time would ravage my body; I refused to let it delay my life by even one day. My determination rarely wavering, I graduated high school on time, scheduling surgeries and appointments for Thanksgiving and Christmas break. I entered into the University of Arizona with that same determination and that same strength, although at the time it was raw and unformed, existing without a formulated goal.
As I entered into my freshman year both physically and mentally exhausted I was unprepared for the challenges that college would bring. Well into my second diagnosis of lymphatic cancer, and still getting used to the medications that still, year’s later, keep me alive, my intense focus became diminished. My grades faltered, and I became disheartened and unmotivated. I held fast to the conviction that I had been given a second chance at life for a reason, knowing I had to turn my experience into a way to help others. I took endless classes and changed my major repeatedly, searching but not knowing my purpose. Finally, around the second semester of my sophomore year, as I sat in the front row of a class involving the systemic effects of climate change, a man came in and gave presentation about a Supreme Court case involving alleged human rights violations against Exxon Mobil in Aceh, Indonesia. I was immediately enthralled; I went home that same day and started extensively researching the topic. The more I learned about the case, the more I felt an unrelenting need to help. While I knew I was not able bodied enough to physically help, I was inspired by the attorney who had fought for years to give the victims in this case a voice. I realized later that this was the moment that I found not only the law, but also my life’s purpose.
With renewed vigor I changed my major for the last time, pursuing Political Science with passionate abandon. I knew that when it came time to apply to law school, the grades I received early on in my college career would undoubtedly come back to haunt me. Working tirelessly with a single-mindedness that I had not yet experienced in my young life I fought everyday to be my absolute best, both academically and professionally. I set a new goal for myself of graduating Cum Laude, with academic distinction. After striving to not only to get straight A’s for the rest of my college career, but also to be the best in each class, I met my goal in December of 2011. Throughout my college experience I was given the wonderful opportunities of interning in the Washington D.C. office of Congresswoman Giffords, under the Democratic Chief of Staff in the Arizona House of Representatives, and on the campaign of Tucson, Arizona’s current Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. Through these experiences I became more determined and resolute in my goal of helping others through the law. While the time I spent with these elected officials was invaluable, it is my job as a legal assistant that has truly assured me that I have found my place. To the credit of my current boss, xxxxxxxxx, he respects my intelligence, unwavering diligence, and dedication to the law enough to allow me to venture into areas that most paralegals may not even have the opportunity to experience. Writing everything from appellate briefs to drafting and complying disclosure statements has allowed me to gain unique insight into the law that will continue to benefit me throughout my three years as a law student and well into my legal career. As a general practitioner, our firm sees a variety of cases, but my heart and my true passion lies with those that allow my boss and myself to become an advocate for those less fortunate.
Now years later, my cancer in remission, I feel that my path and purpose in life are clear. I feel an obligation to use the strength and determination, gifted to me by my disease, and my obvious and unrelenting passion for the law to try and make this world a better place. Working in the offices of multiple elected officials as well as a legal assistant for well over a year has allowed me to gain a practical understanding of how the law functions and how it is applied, now in the next phase of my life I look forward to immersing myself in the theory and logic of the law. Through the law I will strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others and hope that one day my story can inspire someone just like me to do the same.
(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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