What I'm mainly wondering is if this general direction is a good idea, and if I'm somewhere near the ballpark. Please provide your honest thoughts, on whether this is an okay route for the Personal Statement, or if I am way off the mark.
I particularly am interested in how to make this sound like an obstacle without getting too depressing - that is a tough balance. Also, I'm not sure how much "resume" type info to include vs. leave out.
One unifying trait of the successful individuals of our time is this: they did not let bad circumstances, obstacles, or tragedy, chart their course in life. Instead, they succeeded in the face of such events and in doing so proved their strength. Franklin Roosevelt was crippled with polio and served nearly four terms. Rosa Parks, facing the threat of jail, violence, or worse, refused to stand up. Paul McCartney lost his mother to cancer when he was 14. In so many cases, tragedy and difficult times did not dissuade. In fact, these circumstances shaped each individual into something better than before. This idea does not hit home until the unexpected enters your life. When the storm clouds roll in, it is your reaction that defines your character, not the circumstance itself. Tragedy can be a catalyst for growth, and I now know this to be true.
“Stage IV Metastatic Malignant Melanoma,” my mom said. I looked at her and dad across the dim kitchen, in a mixture of sadness, disbelief, and confusion. I knew it was bad, “Stage IV” anything is bad. But unlike other forms of cancer, this was unfamiliar and it sounded ominous. It was a brisk February evening in 2011 when I received the news that would change me forever: my dad has 18 months to live. It was the worst and most unexpected news.
Being the logical, analytical person that I am, I researched the disease until I felt I could confidently give a doctoral dissertation on the subject. I learned his chances were bad, but I was determined not to let the situation dictate my response. He did not want his disease to negatively affect me, and wanted me to do well in school, excel in my activities, and succeed in my career. This was not hard at first, but in November of 2011, the storm clouds returned. I was in my apartment at school, when the phone rang. I could hear fear in my mom’s voice. “XXX, your dad is on his way to XXX Medical Center. He can’t talk or move. Come now.” It turned out to be a blood clot on his brain caused by several tumors. The doctors performed emergency surgery, removing tumors as well as brain tissue. They saved his life, but gave no promises. It was several weeks before he started to speak again, and he was never the same person. With three younger brothers, each in school, it was hard for my mom to transport dad to rehab, chemo, and other treatments. So, after classes I made the 4 hour drive from school and back to stay with them several times a week. I won’t say it wasn’t hard maintaining my “A” average and all of my other activities at school while keeping the family together, but I did it because there was no other choice.
My dad got progressively worse, and finally lost his battle with cancer on July 10, 2012. The last few months were particularly difficult. However I remained resilient. I performed the lead role in my college theater group, graduated cum laude, and passed each part of the CPA exam. I knew tell he was proud.
My dad always knew of my interest in practicing law. During the last few weeks I had the opportunity to talk to him about why I wanted to be a lawyer, and what my future held. I told him that one day, I would be in a courtroom, a practicing litigator, earnestly and ethically advocating on behalf of my clients. My dad knew of my tenacity, leadership, academic, communication, and reasoning skills. He knew of my desire to be a tireless advocate in the courtroom, for individuals that no one else will defend. He was confident I would get there.
The experience of losing a father is something you never expect. I mentioned these situations can either tear us apart, or leave us stronger than they found us. Losing my dad taught me how to push on in the face of extreme adversity. I learned that nothing is too overwhelming, no matter the circumstances. This spirit will remain with me forever, and apply to everything I do. I will make a great law student and a great lawyer because of the lessons I learned from losing a father. He taught me in life, and in death, to never give up.