GPA: 3.92 overall
Accepted: Yale, Harvard, Chicago ($$$), Columbia, NYU, Virginia ($$$), Northwestern, Vanderbilt ($$$, withdrawn), Notre Dame ($$$), UIUC ($$$), UNC Chapel Hill ($$$), Cardozo ($$$, applied when I was going to apply to every fee waiver school and wasn't thinking about those LSAC $12 adding up).
I'm not really proud of the first statement; HLS had a two-page limit, and since I recycled it for everywhere except UNC (for which I combined information from my NU DS and some UG admission essays) and Yale (for which I added information about my interest in academia), I didn't really get to incorporate all the information that I wanted. Please forgive any overlooked typos.
For as long as I can remember, I have desired to understand the world around me. When I was younger, an interest of mine was language. At about six years of age, I attempted to teach myself various languages, from Italian to Japanese, and although I did not have much success, this interest remained with me. Upon entering high school I studied Spanish and later French, which exposed me to the cultures in which they are used. This exposure has given me a greater appreciation of the world’s cultural diversity.
During my senior year of high school, I participated in the dual enrollment program, taking classes at a college near my home. One of my favorite classes was Intermediate Spanish, since the topics discussed therein often required a great deal of critical thinking. One unit discussed religion, which tends to be a rather controversial topic, due to the intimate nature of religious belief and the almost universal conviction that one’s own beliefs are correct. Nevertheless, I found class discussions interesting because they helped me to see the connection between culture, language, and religion. Adherents of the same faith often differ significantly in their religious expression based on their respective cultures; in class, we saw this in the syncretism of Roman Catholicism with the religions of the Caribbean and South American peoples conquered by the Spanish and with the religions of the imported African Slaves. Moreover, I saw how culture and religion frequently interact with language. These discussions created an interest in the study of religion. Thus, upon matriculating at Florida A&M University, I continued my studies in religion, which have caused me to better appreciate those who do not share my beliefs.
In December 2003, as a freshman at Florida A&M University, I celebrated my eighteenth birthday. As presidential campaigning during the primaries began, I took great interest in the candidates, since the 2004 elections were my first opportunity to exercise the right to vote. This right, however, came with a responsibility: I had to study the issues and to make an informed decision. As I studied candidates and ideologies, I developed an interest in political philosophy. Like religion and language, my interest lay in my desire to understand the world around me; the various political philosophies and legal systems have a pervasive effect on the societies in which they are practiced, and therefore understanding the law is integral to understanding the world.
As important as understanding and learning about the world around me is applying the knowledge acquired to help others. One value instilled in my childhood was the importance of giving back to the community. Growing up in Minnesota, I attended a summer program at a park near my home and eventually volunteered and worked with this same program, which helped to provide a safe environment for children in the area to play and develop their creativity through arts, crafts, reading, field trips, and other activities. Additionally, upon developing a degree of proficiency in Spanish and French, I have used my abilities to assist others by tutoring throughout high school and college. Seeing the impact of such activities has only further reinforced my awareness of the need to use one’s abilities to the betterment of others, which I intend to do through the pursuit of a legal education.
Growing up, I did a lot of moving around. I was born in Chicago, and before moving to Minnesota, my family moved between Illinois and Iowa. In Minnesota, I lived in a neighborhood that was rather diverse: although many individuals think of Minnesota as being a “lily white” state, the area that I lived in, the south side of Brooklyn Park, near Minneapolis, was very ethnically diverse, particularly because of the large number of immigrants from Asian countries, Africa, and to a lesser extent, Latin America. Growing up in such an environment gave me an appreciation that I would probably not otherwise have for people of other backgrounds and worldviews.
After my sophomore year of high school, my family moved to Fayetteville, Georgia. Living in the South further broadened my perspective and shattered my perception of white Southerners as racists and “rednecks.” Upon graduating in 2003, I matriculated at Florida A&M University. Although born in Chicago and raised in a neighborhood with more African-Americans than is typical of Minnesota, I had never been in a situation in which we black people were the majority, and this experience has been fulfilling as I have seen students from all parts of the country and who represent the plethora of black cultures. I therefore believe that having found myself in so many different social atmospheres has provided me with an outlook open to different perspectives, which will be useful as I embark upon studies in law that require one to think critically and examine information from a variety of viewpoints.
While in Georgia, one of the more rewarding experiences that I had was the Governor’s Honors Program (GHP). In my freshman year of high school, I was able to fulfill my lifelong dream of learning a foreign language by taking Spanish classes. After a rough start, I began to excel in the Spanish, and the next year I skipped from Spanish II to Spanish III. After moving from to Georgia for my junior year, my Spanish IV teacher nominated me for GHP. I put a lot of effort into trying to make it into the program, and it was wonderful to know that my efforts had paid off when I was accepted for the summer 2002 session of the program in Valdosta, Georgia.
As a Spanish student, I met other young people who had the same interests that I have. In the class, I was able to take me [sic, should clearly be "my"] studies further than I could in school. In class, we produced several of our own songs and a lot of artwork. Additionally, my Spanish class, along with the other four classes (Latin, French, German, and another Spanish class), performed a cabaret for all the other students. (Many students commented that they thought it was better than the “improv” performances of the theater majors!) For my final project in Spanish, I wrote a song in Spanish, about the court painter Diego Velázquez.
In my “minor” field, I was a Science student. In Science, the students had weekly competitions. Thus, every week, I (as well at the other students) had to perform creatively, whether it was to create the farthest traveling rubber band car (with limited resources) or to created, with a few pieces of paper and some straws, a structure with the longest free-fall. These activities allowed me to meet many different individuals from around the state, and to appreciate the different perspectives that each brought.
Outside of our studies, the other students and I had many opportunities to participate in activities and have experiences that we probably would have had at home. There were concerts every week in different genres of music: jazz, woodwinds, strings, percussion, dance, and various other forms. The art students had an exhibition in which they presented their paintings, sculptures, drawings, and other works to both the program participants and the public. The Communicative Arts (English) students had two “coffee houses” in which they presented poetry, songs, and other forms of verbal entertainment. The Dance major performed two nights, showing a mastery of many types of dance, from ballet to African dance. The Theater majors performed two “improv” sessions, and had a major production which they performed late in the program.
The Business students (who consisted of Technology and Executive Management majors) had a fair at which the technology students presented a computer animation cartoon that they had spent the summer preparing and the executive management students presented their own work. The students of Mathematics and Science had similar fairs; the Science majors presented us their research (of everything from mosquito repellents to black holes). The Mathematics students presented their own projects as well, which demonstrated the importance of mathematics in every aspect of life, from card games to computers. Social Studies students also gave a presentation of their studies, which concentrated primarily on wars. Some of the students even presented a documentary that they produced in which they interviewed veterans of several wars.
The “GHP experience” changed my life in many ways. Despite the number of years that have passed, I continue to keep in contact with several of the friends that I made five summers ago. Meeting all the other “brilliant” students through the program also humbled me; in my experience, it had been rare that a peer of mine knew more than I did. The program also helped me to appreciate the cultures of not only the Spanish and Latinos, but also of people worldwide. The lessons that I learned and the memories that I acquired in the Governor’s Honors Program will remain with me for life.