me might seem to be the fact that I have the temerity to apply to law school in the first place. I have a blemished academic record that includes both withdrawals and failing grades, and by the time I receive my degree in May, I will have spent six years as an undergraduate. Looking beyond these statistics, however, to the harrowing circumstances of my personal life, it quickly becomes clear that what is much more remarkable is the fact that 1 have survived at all. In retrospect, 1 see that I could easily have been crushed by all that happened, that I could have lost all hope, belief in myself, and ambition. Somehow, fortunately, something within me has prevented that from occurring.
With my parents and two younger sisters, 1 came to America from Asia when I was eight. We were poor from the time we arrived (my father first worked as a janitor, my mother as a seamstress), but I hardly knew the difference as a young child. 1 was aware that my mother arose each morning at five to take a bus to work, and I knew that I was responsible for taking care of my sisters in her absence. In fact, 1 was a virtual surrogate parent, assuming a key role in raising my sisters.
Eventually my father bought a small gas station, where from the age of 12 1 helped out each day by pumping gas, I would go to work right after school and not come home until midnight. On weekends 1 worked from nine to nine.
When I was ready to attend college, my parents had somehow saved enough money to underwrite the cost. My freshman year—when, for the first time, 1 did not have to work—1 had a 3.8 GPA. This was more reflective of my academic potential than the grades 1 earned in subsequent years, when family problems made it impossible for me to concentrate on my studies. My father's business was going steadily downhill (at times he did not even have enough money to buy gas for
At first glance, the most remarkable thing about me might seem to be the fact that I have the temerity to apply to law school in the first place. I have a blemished academic record that includes both withdrawals and failing grades, and by the time I receive my degree in May, I will have spent six years as an undergraduate.
the station), and my family needed my help in order to survive. I began working 35 to 40 hours a week selling men's clothes. Nevertheless, my family's economic picture deteriorated steadily. The five of us moved into a two-bedroom apartment because that was all we could (barely) afford. My father lost his business, and my college notified me that 1 was "disenrolled" because I was unable to pay my tuition. By the following semester 1 had saved enough to return to school, but times were still difficult. Occasionally we had no gas or electricity in our apartment because bills were having to go unpaid. At one point we even had to go three days without food. Then, in late April, disaster struck. My family was evicted from its apartment, with the landlord temporarily refusing (illegally) to let us back in to retrieve our possessions. For two weeks 1 slept in the library at my school, while my parents slept on the floor of a building that was being remodeled. (Both of my sisters were away at college.) The eviction preceded my finals by two weeks and, not surprisingly, had a devastating impact on my performance.
I realise that the poverty in my background is not unique, that other applicants have likely had to deal with similar problems. However, as the only son in an Asian family, I always had a greater-than-usual amount of responsibility on my shoulders. It is difficult for me to convey the humiliation and pain 1 felt over the years
It is difficult for me to convey the humiliation and pain I felt over the years as I watched my parents assume demeaning roles, exacerbated by their poor command of English and ignorance of their rights. Their experience has made a deep impression on me and sensitized me to the problems and injustices which so many suffer.
as I watched my parents assume demeaning roles, exacerbated by their poor command of English and ignorance of their rights. Their experience has made a deep impression on me and sensitized me to the problems and injustices which so many suffer. It is important to me that I be able to lead a life that is noble and worthwhile, and I want to do this by being in a position in which 1 can help others and make a contribution. I plan to do this through a career in law.
For nearly three years I have been involved with a nonprofit organization created to help preserve and protect the rights of the Asian-American community. My participation in this group has helped focus my interest in eventually applying my legal skills toward the end of serving those in the Asian-American community. In fact, 1 became chairman of the group's legal committee, for which 1 organized two free legal seminars with the Asian-American bar organization. Last year 1 also helped raise more than 566,000 as fundraising chairman for the group. And currently I am working with yet another legal resources group as a member of the board of directors of an association formed to protect low-income tenants from the dangers of prepayment of loans by building owners.
1 realize that, given my academic record, I am going against the odds in applying to law school. However, everything 1 have done—including surviving, maintaining my spirit, and moving toward the completion of my undergraduate studies—has been against all odds. I am confident that
I could be successful as a member of your first-year class.
FOR THE PAST EIGHT YEARS I have worked in the merchant marine, steadily climbing the hierarchy that exists within that organization. I realize that the merchant marine is hardly a spawning ground for MBA candidates, so perhaps a few words about the motivations behind my involvement in this unusual field would be in order. 1 spent most of my childhood in New England, often around the water. My family had a boat, and we often spent summers on Long Island Sound, in a community in which most activities revolved around the water. So I grew up loving boats and finding a great mystique in the sea. I spent one summer as a deckhand on a cruise boat and piloted the same boat in a subsequent summer. 1 chose a college which prepared me for the merchant marine because I was attracted to the idea of world travel and adventure, liked the high pay, and relished the thought of being on the sea. I also was very interested in attaining a captain's license because of the challenge it posed and because acquiring the license represented the peak achievement possible within the merchant marine. In line with my expectations, I have moved through the ranks more rapidly than most and am likely one of the youngest men now to hold the captain's license. My work involves operations, logistics, and management, and 1 am regarded by my captain and my men as highly capable in these areas. 1 have achieved all that I sought within the merchant marine and am now financially secure.
My ambitions, however, demand that I leave the merchant marine, return to land, and lead a more normal life. 1 now want career opportunities and challenges, as well as options in my personal life, that are unavailable to me in the merchant marine. My professional impulses are both entrepreneurial and managerial, so. my projected career path will take me either into the import/export business or sports management. Having outstanding quantitative abilities and a strong interest in business, 1 am now eager to study for the MBA, which will give me the formal business training 1 currently lack.
Attending your school will provide me with a profound grasp of management principles and theories, as well as the broad perspective I will need to succeed in whatever enterprise 1 pursue. Your excellent reputation is a big part of your school's allure, as is your strength in the areas of financial analysis and information sciences, both of which hold particular fascination for me. Having spent the last eight years operating within a somewhat narrow environment, I am also very much looking forward to interacting with the diversity of individuals which your MBA program attracts. 1 expect my contacts with these persons, both students and faculty, to be highly stimulating, and I would hope to be able to add to the quality and richness of the dialogue. 1 have lived in your school's area during my recent leave from my ship, and I have been very impressed not only with the people in this area but also with the energy and intellectualism. It is a community of which 1 very much want to be a part.
The other options I have considered for next year are fairly limited. If I had to delay the start of jny graduate business education, 1 would likely work in real estate, open a gym, or teach navigation. A fourth option would be going to Japan to teach English (1 am currently studying Japanese through a university extension).
I AM A 26-YEAR-OLD WOMAN who has spent much of the past nine years engaged in such unusual activities as jumping out of airplanes, briefing Chuck Yeager (on more effective flying, of all things!), running through trenches, being a test parachutist, taking apart and then reassembling (blindfolded) a vintage M-l riile, earning a pilot's license, and learning how to survive behind enemy lines (including resisting interrogations and escaping captivity). All of this has occurred within the context of my time in the military, which began when 1 enrolled as a cadet at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Even then 1 was drawn to science, selecting biology as my major. My freshman year, when 1 was a lowly "doolie" (a slang derivative of the Latin word meaning "slave"), my grades suffered as I went through the traditional trials of being a first-year military student. It is a psychologically cruel and dehumanizing process (and an existence almost incomprehensible to anyone on the outside) which one must somehow endure while also meeting a full load of academic requirements. The isolation and rigidity of military life made the remaining three years a challenge as well. T frequently tell people that attending the Air Force Academy provided me the best experience of my life (in giving me discipline and showing me the stuff of which I was made) and also the worst.
At the time 1 graduated, I had a five-year obligation to the Air Force. Despite my continuing interest in becoming a physician, 1 decided first to fulfill this obligation so 1 would later be completely free to chart my own course. I chose to become a physiologist with the Air Force because this enabled me to combine my interest in aircraft and aerospace with my fascination with medicine. For two years I ran the hypobaric, or altitude, chamber, teaching flyers how to use their bodies to be better test pilots. During this same period I earned a master's in systems management, which I felt would help me do my job more effectively. For the past two years, I have been a human factors engineer, testing and making recommendations on equipment so its design produces optimal human performance. At night I teach scuba diving and, in line with my view that a doctor's proper role is at least partly educational, am earning a teaching credential.
With my military service scheduled to come to an end soon, it is finally possible for me to realize my long-held dream of applying to medical school. While my experience since graduating from the Air Force Academy has been highly instructive, it has reinforced my conviction that 1 am best suited to a career in which personal and human considerations are given highest priority. The interpersonal aspect of the profession holds great appeal for me, as does the fact that the doctor's actions have a direct and significant impact on another human's life. The constant intellectual challenge, the decision-making demands, the fast pace, and the fact that doctors can see the outcome of their work are other elements which attract me.
I know that 1 have a highly unconventional history for someone aspiring to become a doctor, but 1 also know that 1 have what it takes to succeed. My background has taught me many lessons, including, perhaps ironically, the value of human life and the importance of human dignity.
TWO DAYS BEFORE TAKING my LSAT exam in October, I received devastating news that turned my world upside down: My mother, who was living a continent away from me in New York, had AIDS.
Like so many other 19-year-olds, I had never given much thought to the concept of death, or to the possibility of what it might mean to lose someone so close to me. Suddenly, though, I was confronted with the very real prospect of watching helplessly as my mother battled a frightening fatal illness.
Now, 15 months later, my mother is still alive but struggling, having survived a series of extremely close brushes with death. The prognosis remains bleak, and she is not expected to live until summer. At one time she weighed only 80 pounds, down from her normal 120. I visit New York as frequently as possible in order to be near her, and find our roles seem reversed: Now I am the mother; she is the daughter.
I recount this story because my mother's circumstance has had such a profound influence on my recent life. I have done a lot of growing up very quickly. I believe 1 have become unusually serious and mature for someone my age. 1 look at many things differently. I have become very aware of life's fragility and of the importance of treating one's time and ability as the precious commodities they are. 1 have also been grateful to have a professional goal—to become a lawyer—that excites me and gives additional purpose to my life, especially during this difficult pèriod when I need a focus apart from my family situation.
1 am one of those fortunate people who has had a firm idea of her objectives since first starting college. 1 have known all along that I want to go to law school, practice law, and eventually get into politics. To corroborate my interest in a legal career, I have worked since my freshman year as an undergraduate in a series of legal jobs, normally 30 to 35 hours a week. 1 have worked for the L.A. city attorney (as an intern) as well as four private law firms. In these positions, I have not
Two days before taking my LSAT exam in October, I received devastating news that turned my world upside down: My mother, who was living a continent away from me in New York, had AIDS.
only been exposed to public service law but also to the workings of small, four-attorney law firms and a firm among the nation's ten largest.
As a paralegal/legal secretary 1 have gained a solid understanding of the legal process, from the summons and complaint through the discovery phase and to settlement or trial. I have done research and court filings, interviewed clients, sat in on depositions, and had the opportunity to become familiar with a wide range of legal documents and procedures. It is work that I love, even on the frequent occasions when it is tedious, frustrating, and anything but glamorous. I like trying to fit together pieces of a puzzle, doing the necessary analysis, facing the challenge that any case poses, I thrive on feeling productive. I find great pleasure in arguing a point, whether verbally or in writing, and am quite adept at doing this.
I believe I am well qualified to study law, having the necessary enthusiasm, energy, temperament, and commitment. Working for the city attorney heightened my awareness of, and interest in, the problems of the underserved, so public service law is the area of litigation that currently holds greatest appeal for me.
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