During my weekly piano lessons in middle school I was summoned to the principal’s office, for the first time in my life. As I walked to meet her, the only thought running through my head was if I had done something wrong. I remember drying my sweaty palms against her couch as I nervously waited for her to scold me. However, she informed me an accident had occurred in my house and reassured my family was fine. Immediately after, I was driven to my house. A few blocks before arriving, a massive black cloud blocked the view of my street and several fire trucks blocked the road. I walked the rest on foot hoping to find my parents in the scores of spectators on the street. June 13th, 2002 was the day my house burned down.
The fire destroyed my house and my parent’s small printing company in Costa Rica; along with my clothes and beloved dolls from the Collection of American Girls I was so fond of. With no insurance coverage, my family’s lifestyle was destined to drastically change. Eleven years after, instead of seeing the fire as a catastrophe, I look back and acknowledge it as a challenge of adaptation that continues to define me to this day. This process began when my family moved to my grandmother’s house and I transferred to a public school in Costa Rica. The public education system is not as prestigious as private school systems in the country. However, I was ultimately thankful for this transition as this new educational environment gave me a new perspective of life: a simpler, humbler, and simplistic yet exciting youth. Above all, my parents taught me how persistence, determination and the pursuit of a better tomorrow is essential for our family’s success. My parent’s devotion to provide me and my brother limitless opportunities in a financially restrained household filled me with the desire to give back at least a fraction of their effort invested in me. This began with my acceptance to the University of Costa Rica, which is the most competitive university in the country. The idea of becoming a first-generation college graduate filled me with joy as I was pursuing my dream and my parent’s dream as well. Even though my parents were not thrilled with the major I chose; History fed my passion to learn about the struggles of past generations, the components of change within societies, and the influence of historical events in the creation of laws. Most importantly, studying Costa Rica’s and Central America’s history created a personal bond between me and my culture I had never developed before.
The combination of History and volunteer work at non-profit organizations such as Fundación Neutrópica and Un Techo Para Mi País propelled my interest in law as I began to feel like an agent of change. My passion for providing impoverished communities with tools to have a better lifestyle increased my enthusiasm as I merged personal experiences with social responsibility. Above all, the volunteer work performed gave me the feeling that I was providing affected communities with determination and pursuit of a better life. Similarly they taught me to appreciate the small gifts in life just by inviting us to be part of their lives. These experiences made me come to the realization that Costa Rica has provided me with indispensable values, cultural appreciation, and devotion to social improvement that I wish to exploit in unknown territories.
My acceptance to the University of Florida was a stepping-stone to my future as a lawyer. The language adaptation challenges and cultural shock I faced when I left the comfort of my country and family, was rewarded with academic and professional experiences Costa Rica was incapable to offer. The research and academia environment I was submerged at the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program increased my desire to pursue a career in law. This program merged the importance of History with social responsibility in order to achieve effective social transformation. The University of Florida was more than an undergraduate education for me, as it opened doors towards the field of environmental law. When I informed my parents I was conducting independent research in Costa Rica for the director of the Clinic Center for Governmental Responsibility at the Levine College of Law; they were not only thrilled about my return home for the summer, but also for the opportunities of change I was beginning to embrace. The thought of becoming a law student from the University of Pennsylvania thrills me with excitement of the extraordinary learning opportunities of intellectual and personal enrichment this university can provide to my life. I acknowledge that what is of most importance is the symbiotic relationship that this university and I can create. My contribution of personal and professional experiences from a different cultural mindset can provide this university will also enrich my studies and classroom discussions to ultimately create an outstanding lawyer, no matter how challenging it can get.
(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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