Note: This essay was edited by experienced law editors. Link to unedited writing you can find below the text.
It had never occurred to me as a seven-year-old child that skin color could be destiny. I had been blissfully unaware of my origins until schoolyard taunting sent me home crying, questioning my parents about the difference between my sister’s skin color and my own. I remember studying their expressions as they explained that they had adopted me. At the age of seven, I did not fully understand the term “adoption,” but I realized that I was different. The full implication of this discovery only became clearer with time.
Struggling with the Caucasian culture in which I was raised and the African-American culture with which I was expected to identify caused a feeling of tremendous dislocation throughout my youth. The dissimilarity between the two cultures manifested itself as I attempted to coexist in both worlds–some people considered me not black enough, while others considered me too black. Unfortunately, my adoptive parents failed to consider whether I would have role models or peers in school and church, and they neglected to promote a comfortable environment for me. Eventually, my parents became overwhelmed by the pressures of raising two children and sent me to boarding school while keeping their biological child at home. At age seventeen, after a series of escalating family conflicts, I found myself once again a ward of the court without choices or alternatives.
I shuffled through the “system,” becoming a ward of the court, a group home resident, and a member of an independent living program. During each transition, I felt perplexed by the seeming illogic of the process; each placement seemed more socially isolating than the last. For a number of years, I tried to find an explanation for, and meaning in, my past. I gave birth to a child, moved to a new town, and enrolled in community college classes, yet none of these changes brought about the internal resolution that I sought. I went so far as to contact my biological parents, but I only found more questions. After all these rejections and transitions, I realized that my success would depend upon my ability to make independent decisions and trust my inner strength. With this change of perspective, I began realizing ambitions that had long lain dormant.
As a child, I had dreamt of becoming an attorney, but I had felt that such a career was beyond my grasp. As I matured, however, I realized that my unique background afforded me life experience that others did not have. My dreams of becoming a lawyer were consequently rekindled. I knew that success in law school would require practical experience with the law, and I therefore accepted a position with the Missouri Civil Rights Commission as a Civil Rights Investigator. My interracial adoptive background benefited me in this role and made me sensitive to the plights of people who had been deprived of basic rights. I gained considerable self-confidence. Within the first two years of my employment, I was promoted twice and was eventually elevated to the highest investigatory position, Civil Rights Investigator 3.
Drawing on the momentum of my quick career success, I enrolled in the Legal Assisting program at the University of St. Louis. I took classes in legal research and writing, computerized legal research, and administrative law, and I gained important insights that benefited me in my Commission job. While working forty hours per week, I attended school full time, taking between fifteen and twenty-one credit hours per quarter. The more I learned in classes, the better my investigative skills became. My hard work paid off when I received an invitation to join the Commission’s Work Redesign Committee and Training Advisory Committee. I was also asked to chair the Process Redesign team, which would be instrumental in changing how the Commission processed discrimination complaints. I coauthored a proposal which, when ratified, would identify outstanding employees and use them as mentors to newly-hired staff, thereby reducing the Commission’s external training costs.
The conscientious discharge of my duties led the Missouri Civil Service Employee Association to enlist me as a Steward in its Franklin County Chapter. My research, investigative, and speaking skills proved invaluable as I successfully argued every grievance filed on behalf of my colleagues. The union formally recognized my efforts at a chapter meeting and invited me to join their executive board. These experiences convinced me that I had the aptitude to become a powerful advocate.
Although I felt proud of my professional success, I still realized that I was not living up to my potential. I desired a position in which I could prepare for the rigors of law school and legal practice, which led to my employment as a Legal Assistant within the Office of General Counsel at the University of St. Louis. To date, my work in this capacity has afforded me the opportunity to assist in the preparation of discovery documents, to prepare individuals for depositions, and to view an argument before the Sixth Circuit Appellate Court. I see this experience as the first taste of my future legal career, and I also recognize that my unique life experiences will give me a significant edge in certain areas of law. Having discovered my tenacity, perseverance, and inner strength, I look forward to arming myself with a J.D. and enhancing my skills, knowledge, and credibility as an advocate for all people.
“WOW!!!! I am so stunned by the DRASTIC improvements to my essay that I don’t even know where to begin expressing my gratitude and my astonishment! I am absolutely confident that this improved version will increase my chances of getting into the law school I want to go to–this service is worth its weight in gold!!! After having worked on my personal statement for weeks and weeks–knowing that it was good but that it had major flaws, I had no idea how to go about changing them without taking too much away from the content–and this is where my editor’s role was crucial. He gave my essay the polish it so badly needed yet preserved–even enhanced all its good qualities. His changes have produced a personal statement that is more sincere, effective, and easier to read than the original. He did a better job putting “me” on paper than even I could do! I honestly do not know how to thank you enough for your help, I appreciate it more than I can articulate!!! I don’t know how you guys do it!”
Thank you for submitting your essay to EssayEdge. I enjoyed reading your statement; you write with a conviction that clearly indicates your determination and commitment to law. You have done an excellent job of discussing your background without casting yourself as a victim–your reader will be appropriately impressed with your accomplishments and with the resilience you have shown throughout your life.
I agree with your assessment that the beginning of your essay is stronger than the conclusion, but only in one specific sense: The beginning of your essay is very emotionally charged, while your conclusion is more prosaic and factual. To redress this imbalance, I revised your conclusion to incorporate your desire to attend law school. The result is much more impressive, as you requested.
Here are my specific comments on each individual paragraph of your essay:
The comparison you are trying to draw in the first sentence does not work well–“different” and “difference” are etymologically related, but their meanings are not similar enough in this context to justify this juxtaposition. I suggest that you open instead with a discussion of your experience as a seven-year-old child. Please see the revised essay.
The sentence about Caucasian and African-American cultures is particularly powerful, as is the idea of seeming too black to some people and not black enough to others.
This paragraph was a bit too long, so I separated the introduction proper from the rest of the paragraph. I also made subtle changes to the remaining sentences to correct grammatical problems and to focus and polish your prose.
Why did you state that your early adult experiences were not successful? My first impression was that you wanted to explain a lackluster performance in your community college classes. Whether or not this is true, I believe it is to your advantage to omit this detail altogether.
You tend to overuse semicolons in your writing. Semicolons should only be used sparingly, if at all. It is almost always more powerful to break up your prose by separating ideas into distinct, well-formulated sentences.
“I began to utilize them to reach unrealized potential.”
This is a clichéd expression, and after so much honest and original writing, you need to write something that is fresh and engaging. I have revised this sentence in the final draft.
This paragraph is far too long. There is a natural break in the flow of your ideas beginning with the sentence, “With my newfound confidence…” and I therefore started a new paragraph at this point.
Throughout your essay, I made a point of compacting your sentences. For instance, “As a child, I had dreamed that I would grow up to be an attorney…” became, “As a child, I had dreamt of becoming an attorney.” Saying the same things in less space requires a stronger and more succinct expression of ideas, and is something that you should strive for in your writing.
The second sentence of this paragraph is very true–life’s hardships do often give people a springboard for magnificent accomplishments.
Throughout the essay, you returned to the theme of “transitions” far too often. I have reworked this paragraph to eliminate redundancy.
Also, it is best to downplay the idea that you changed careers. I have removed your explicit discussion of this fact.
Please note that it would be useful to indicate how your background helped you excel as an investigator. I suggested that your background made you more sensitive to people who have been deprived of basic rights, but be sure to change this if it is incorrect.
I could not determine why you included the information about the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act–what did you hope to accomplish with this information? I have removed these details from the revised essay, but feel free to reinsert them if you desire.
This paragraph does a good job of outlining your career progress to date.
In the second sentence, do you mean “clients” instead of “colleagues?”
In the third sentence, to what “union” are you referring? Please cite the name of this union in your final draft.
I suggest making this paragraph the conclusion of your essay. You can discuss the inherent limitations you will face without a J.D., and then talk about how a J.D. will enable you to achieve your ambitions. It is very important to end the essay with a discussion of how a J.D. will benefit your career rather than to conclude with vague assertions. The point of this essay is to explain why you want to go to law school, and your original final paragraph focused too exclusively on your background rather than on your future. You want your reader to leave this essay with a strong sense of why you should go to law school.
You outlined some of the legal insights that you have gained working as a Legal Assistant. I expanded this discussion to indicate that you are just beginning this process of discovery and that you still have much to learn. To conclude, I provided a new sentence that ties together your entire argument.
I believe you will find the revised essay much improved. You had a lot of good content, and I believe that my revisions have made your essay much tighter and more focused. I wish you luck with the admissions process and success in your future career.
Your EssayEdge Editor