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'One Step Further' - Personal Statement dealing with overcoming challenges


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Life consists of experiences, challenges, and achievements; all of which are building blocks that inherently create ones path to success. Upon my arrival to North Carolina A&T State University, I could not begin to fathom the journey this experience would ensue. I was given a plethora of advice from my teachers, family and friends. I quickly found that the transition to meet the academic pressure and adapt socially was not as difficult as I would have imagined. As a first generation college student and also the first person in my family to pursue post secondary education I knew that no matter what trial I might face in the years to come I would persevere. There were many trials ahead but because of my indwelling desire to succeed, failure was not and never could be an option.

After my freshman year of college, I realized the importance of being a well rounded individual. I declared my concentration as Spanish and began taking courses that would expose me to the Hispanic culture. I was fortunate to be able to volunteer in several community programs geared towards improving the lives of Latinos. After full exposure to the language and many language barriers that still exist in our community today a new passion to help was birth in me. I developed a more diverse mentality and understanding for the need to interact in my community and assist wherever possible. Further into my sophomore year I encountered a situation where it was impossible for me to assist in any way, other than to be there. I received a phone call from my father in December 2006 telling me that my mother had just suffered a massive heart attack. The news just about knocked me down. In that instant I could not breathe, speak, or cry. All I knew was that my mother may not survive, and that I may never hear her voice again.

Revolving thoughts in my head created feelings of fear that were beginning to overshadow my dreams and desires. Seemingly unyielding hurdles were presenting themselves. I questioned whether or not my education was more important than my presence with my mother. My family could no longer provide the same support, I could not hear my mother's voice, and I certainly was treading on unfamiliar ground. This complex issue immediately forced me to come up with a creative way to cope with my situation. I recalled that my mother always pushed me to follow my dreams and use any struggle I might face to build character and strength. Her words provided comfort, encouragement, and have galvanized me to continue to embark upon my journey to success.

Determination and dedication, undergirded with my enormous desire to graduate, enabled me to continue even in the midst of hard times. After completing my first internship with One Step Further, Inc., a program that recommends sentencing options for adults and juveniles, provides mediation services, teen court, life skills/conflict resolution classes, juvenile work sites for unpaid community service and victim restitution, also opportunities for juveniles and their families to resolve conflicts positively, I realized the need for more dedicated people in positions of power. I became more aware of the many injustices in our legal system, attributable to a lack of African Americans in the field, and my passion to serve as an attorney became more and more fueled. Two months into my junior year I was faced with yet another obstacle that would require creative, and careful planning, I was pregnant. My hunger to excel amplified as obstacles presented themselves. My beliefs did not allow me to consider the option of abortion so again I found myself battling. My child's father, my current husband, assured me that this too would pass, and that together we would overcome. My daughter was born healthy, my mother was continuing to do well, and my studies were never discontinued. I pressed on, more dedicated and goal driven than before.

I am a product of and firm believer that our circumstances do not determine our dispositions. In my last semester of my senior year my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died within two months. The trials that I endured up until that point were in no way a comparison to what I faced after my father's passing. Though my previous trials could never compare, the strength and courage that I found out of each of them carried me through. Obstacles will never be obsolete and to be successful you must stay focused and press on. I am confident that a legal degree will allow me to encounter circumstances and situations with seemingly invisible solutions, but I know that I am capable of pressing forward to success. Los Angeles Municipal Court Judge Veronica McBeth says, "The thing that is good about our system is not that it is what it hopes to be, but that it hopes to be something better. That's what makes it important...It's goal itself of fairness and justice that makes it important." With the aspiration of one day retaining a law degree my hope is that I can be an intricate part in achieving the goal that is still alive in our system today; fairness and justice. I know I possess the work ethic and with proper legal education, a legal career is definitely in the future for me.

Nov 3, 2009, 11:15pm   #2
Gwendolyn,

You're a great writer with a firm grasp on mechanics. Your personal story takes guts to share, and you do so with laudable candor and insight. In light of all this, I think I can give you a higher level critique and you can run with my suggestions. Take them with a grain of salt--I think you have done some excellent work here:

-At times, particularly in the beginning of your essay and your introduction, your writing becomes rather stilted and prosaic. Because later in your essay you demonstrate that you can really write with more 'authenticity,' I encourage you to do so here:

"Life consists of experiences, challenges, and achievements; all of which are building blocks that inherently create ones path to success."

"I developed a more diverse mentality and understanding for the need to interact in my community and assist wherever possible."


Can you try to capture these sentences in language that is more relatable and sounds less like a truism--or what an AdCom wants to hear? Is sentence 1 really at the 'heart' of your essay and the themes you later explore? I want your introduction to feel like legitimate content, not a broad overview of things to come.

Also, how can you substantiate the second sentence and make it more 'real?'

-I would like you to give more depth to the individuals who had such a great impact on your life. One way to do this might be sharing their wisdom, and developing them as real life characters in your narrative. You write:

"I recalled that my mother always pushed me to follow my dreams and use any struggle I might face to build character and strength."

What were your mother's actual words? Can you share them here?

-"Two months into my junior year I was faced with yet another obstacle that would require creative, and careful planning: I was pregnant. My daughter was born healthy, my mother was continuing to do well, and my studies were never discontinued. I pressed on, more dedicated and goal-driven than before." Love this. Great work!

-Your conclusion has great resonance. "Judge Veronica McBeth says, "The thing that is good about our system is not that it is what it hopes to be, but that it hopes to be something better. That's what makes it important...It's goal itself of fairness and justice that makes it important.""

How about shifting this up to your introduction? I think it actually has phenomenal application to your specific life story (which hinges on hope, self-improvement and aspiration), and might really set the tone for your entire essay.

I hope you find this input useful. Best of luck to you!!!

All the best,
Janson



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