Integrity, discipline, selfless service, loyalty, courage, and competence are a few of the values and traits the military has instilled in me. Many of my successes in life can be attributed to those values and traits. I believe for the most part it is because these values and traits where built upon a strong foundation of perseverance. Obtaining my baccalaureate degree and my commission as an officer in the Army are prime examples of how perseverance allowed me to overcome difficult obstacles in my life.
Neither of my parents went to college. My mother, a Dutch immigrant, finished her education short of fourth grade. My father barely passed the GED with the help of his Army recruiter. My parents worked hard but had little to show for it. I knew I wanted more out of life for my self and my family. Education was my opportunity to change my life. The specialized education system I had attended while in Holland resulted in my graduating high school at age 16. My father felt college would be a waste of money and refused to support me financially. My mother could not assist me financially, but she gave me the most valuable thing I needed; her encouragement. Two months after graduation from High School, I got a job working 45 to 50 hours a week, moved out into my own apartment and enrolled in college full-time. My average workday began at 4:30 am and ended at 3:30 pm. I went to school during the week from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm. I still do not recall when I slept or did school work, but I was determined to succeed.
As busy as I was between work and school, I still found time to do volunteer activities here and there. When I turned 17, I wanted to make a more substantial impact in the community that also would enhance my future. I joined the National Guard. I firmly believed, and still do, that nothing in life is free and that includes our rights and freedom. Even though the National Guard was taking up an additional weekend per month, I was still progressing in college at a decent pace and receiving decent grades. In the middle of my sophomore year, I began to realize that I did not just want to make a difference in the community, I wanted to lead others to make a difference too. The National Guard at the time was in need of officers; especially female officers. I applied to the Officer Candidate School weekend program, and was accepted. The rigorous and demanding training process began with one hundred soldiers. Five of the one hundred soldiers where females. From the beginning, I was singled out by the tactical officers because I was a female and had opted to go in the Corps of Engineers upon graduation. Female officers did not traditionally go into engineering at that time. Fourteen months later, eleven soldiers received Federal Commissions as Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army. I was the only female among the eleven to graduate. Serving as an officer gave me some unexpected financial benefits that let me cut back the hours I was working and focus more on school. Finally, five years after I started the journey for my degree I received my Bachelors in Business.
The perseverance I displayed in pursuing my degree and commission is the same perseverance that will ensure my success at the University of Maryland. My background in diverse leadership positions will allow me to contribute to my class from a unique perspective. Not many individuals at age nineteen have experienced being responsible for over thirty people. I have prepared and lead a 120 soldier unit for overseas deployment during a time of hostilities. The difficult decisions I have made and ethical dilemmas I have endured have made me realize the importance of “choosing the harder right rather than the easier wrong.” It is this realization that will not only guide me while in school, but later on to become lawyer of integrity and character. I wish to study law for the same reason I joined the military. I want to serve my community from a position of leadership that is not only challenging, but in which I can make a difference.
I believe the University of Maryland will provide me a leading education and open doors to future opportunities. Having an education from an institution that is among the best in the nation certainly helps when pursuing a professional career, but it is not the primary reason for my choice. The primary factor for me choosing the University of Maryland is its applications oriented education. To read something and see it done is valuable, but to truly understand and succeed you must apply it in as a real environment as possible. The Army uses a saying to guide leaders in establishing training for its soldiers: “Train as you fight and you will fight as you train.” I try to apply this philosophy to my education whenever possible. The law clinics, externships and the mentor program the University of Maryland offers will give me that valuable hands on training experience I will need in order to successfully serve the community. It is my sincere hope that you will that you will consider my application favorably and grant me entrance to the law program.