circumscribed by the fact that, as an officer in the merchant marine, 1 have spent months at a time at sea. My leisure activities, on the other hand, have been both regular and varied, reflecting my interest in sports and exercise.
Weight lifting, which I began when 1 graduated from college, has transformed my lanky 150-pound frame into a somewhat more mesomorphic 170-pound physique. Previously I would have to head to the nearest gymnasium whenever my ship entered port in order to lift weights. More recently, though, I have been able to work out with weights without even leaving my ship. Largely through my own efforts, my current ship has become the first one on which I have served to feature its own designated gym.
Much of what I have done in my leisure time has depended upon my location. For example, while 1 was second mate on a cargo vessel stationed at a small coral atoll in the Indian Ocean, 1 would go ashore to jog along trails cut through lush vegetation, play racquetball, and pump iron at the local gym. I also joined a softbali team that made it to the play-offs in our league.
In more recent times gymnastics has played a very important role in my life. It not only gives my body strength and definition, it also enhances my flexibility and coordination. 1 am currently taking classes at a local gymnastics center, where I work out on the floor, rings, parallel bars, high bar, and pommel horse.
Sports are a key element in my life because they offer camaraderie, recreation, and release. For me they have been a confidence builder as well as a consistent source of fulfillment and inner peace.
During my final year in the Ivy League/ I made a grievous and totally out-of-character mistake that changed the course of my life. In the process of writing my senior thesis, I committed plagiarism.
DURING MY FINAL YEAR in the Ivy League, 1 made a grievous and totally out-of-character mistake that changed the course of my life. In the process of writing my senior thesis, I committed plagiarism. Even now it is impossible for me to understand fully what I did. Certainly it was an aberration, because 1 was someone who always had followed the rules and never had had to rely on shortcuts or cheating to succeed in academics or any other area of her life. However, in my last year in college, when I was emotionally distraught over the breakup of my parents' marriage, my behavior took an inexplicable turn. And under those circumstances I did something that was wrong and for which there is no excuse. I have spent the intervening three-and-a-half years working to remedy my error, while also immersing myself, and testing myself, in the field of law.
The consequences of my actions at my undergraduate institution were drastic. The university's disciplinary committee precluded any opportunity for me to receive my degree within the following two years and decreed that I would have to produce an entirely new thesis to be graduated at any point beyond that date. As a result, I have spent much of my time during the last 18 months researching and writing a 100-page thesis that examines the reaction of the U.S. Jewish community to refugee policy in 1938 and 1939. This effort has been undertaken while I have also been working 50 to 55 hours a week as a paralegal at a 100-attorney law firm. (I first became interested in law after working for another law firm in the summer following my junior year.) Both experiences have been important and valuable for me. Preparing the thesis has restored my confidence in my academic abilities. (I also have developed an intellectual interest in the Holocaust, at the same time that I have been deeply moved by my exposure to this very disturbing episode in our modern history.) My work in the law firm has intensified and reinforced my determination to become an attorney, while also persuading me that I have what it takes to do well in the profession.
As a paralegal 1 have had the opportunity to learn about many aspects of the law and to develop a very realistic concept of what it means to be an attorney. As a result I approach law school with no illusions about the profession or what it entails. 1 am aware of the hard work, the tedium, the deadlines, details, and frustration that are an inherent part of being a lawyer. 1 have also discovered that 1 work effectively under pressure, write well, and enjoy being a part of the law firm environment. 1 have managed documents for large litigation cases, summarized depositions, written up interviews, and developed databases. In the course of carrying out these and many other responsibilities, I have become excited over the prospect of preparing myself to assume a much broader role as a lawyer. I am attracted by many aspects of the law, not the least of which is the intellectual challenge it offers. I am interested in strategizing, writing briefs, and becoming familiar with whole new bodies of information for each case (in my own experience, this has included such diverse subjects as the stealth bomber, a large pharmaceutical company, and certain facets of the entertainment industry). And, if you will allow what might be a terrible cliché, 1 am also drawn to the law because of the opportunity it provides to help others. The firm with which I am currently associated performs a considerable amount of pro bono work, and assisting in this area is something 1 have found to be gratifying. I have also enjoyed volunteering at Legal Aid, where I have again been exposed to that significant segment of our population that is typically underserved by our legal system.
I am a woman who made a mistake and has worked conscientiously to make amends and set her life straight. 1 have seen that 1 can overcome setbacks and learn from my errors. I am a more compassionate and understanding person than 1 was four years ago, and more committed than ever to leading a life that has value. I know that I have the intellectual prowess, stamina (1 am a long-distance runner and have competed in numerous 10K events), commitment, and, yes, the integrity to become an attorney who can contribute to the profession and reflect honor upon it.
SOMETIMES I LIKE TO TELL people that my father knew I wanted to be a doctor long before I did, but the truth is that the idea of becoming a physician has probably been gestating within me in some form or other since an early age. There are childhood scenes involving my father, who is a pediatrician, that are indelibly etched in my memory. When 1 was eight, for example, a young woman came to our door with her first baby, who she thought was dying. My father examined the infant, reassured the mother that there was no serious problem, and sent both away in a state of relief. I also remember, a few years later, being in a restaurant where a woman was choking. "Is there a doctor in the house?" someone asked. My father came forward and took the appropriate steps to help the woman in distress. In both of these instances, as well as many others through the years, I was impressed with my father's capacity to apply his knowledge and skill in a way that made-such an important difference in others' lives. He seemed powerful, not in the same way as men who run companies or nations, but as someone who could provide comfort, quiet fears, touch a life, resolve a crisis.
1 idolize my father and admire his commitment and contributions, but this alone would not be enough to make me want to become a doctor myself. As 1 matured, I had a chance to weigh other options and to take a long, hard look at myself, my capabilities, and interests. What 1 discovered, in time, was that medicine was indeed the most appropriate career path for me, the one best suited to me intellectually, emotionally, and otherwise. For the last four years I have worked one day a week in my father's office, which has given me the chance to interact with patients (and their mothers), observe my father at work, and better understand the dynamics of his practice. Just as when 1 managed a sandwich shop in high school and had to learn to deal with
I saw the delivery of babies, the treatment of gunshot wounds, hysterectomies, and a host of other procedures. I was spellbound by what I saw, and I returned to my premed studies with even greater enthusiasm and focus.
the public, within his office I have also had to be diplomatic. I have had to relate to many different types of people, often at very vulnerable moments in their lives, and do so with sensitivity and compassion.
Two summers ago I worked as an orderly in the operating room at a hospital in the Los Angeles area. 1 was there a minimum of 40 scheduled hours a week, and was on call each weekend. My experience at the hospital also gave me exposure to the constant pressure of emergency situations, in which there is little tolerance for error or indecision. And I was pleased to discover that I was more fascinated than repelled by the actual sight of surgery. I saw the delivery of babies, the treatment of gunshot wounds, hysterectomies, and a host of other procedures. I was spellbound by what 1 saw, and I returned to my premed studies with even greater enthusiasm and focus.
I have always been a very inquisitive person, as well as one who delights in taking things apart and putting them back together. I cannot help but wonder if these aspects of my personality do not somehow relate to my interest in medicine. I know for certain that 1 am highly attracted to the intellectual component of the profession and the fact that constant learning is such an integral part of being an effective physician. I also happen to find great pleasure in the company of other people, and I like the one-on-one facet of the physician's work.
As directed as 1 am in terms of my career, my life would be empty without my family, my close friends (most of whom 1 have known since high school), my girlfriend, and the sports in which I involve myself with great regularity. These are vital elements of my existence and help me to maintain the balance I need.
My family is very warm and loving, and 1 think they have nurtured in me these same qualities. Each has taken very independent and ambitious paths. My mother has recently become a lawyer; one sister is becoming a psychologist and the other sister a lawyer. My feeling about the future is that if, for any reason, 1 did not become a doctor, I would be wasting something—namely, my compassion, commitment, energy, and potential to contribute.
TWO YEARS AGO I FILED an EEO (Equal Employment
Opportunity) suit in response to repeated episodes of apparent racial discrimination. Although the outcome was not entirely satisfactory— the offending party resigned before the case could be processed—my involvement in this action proved to be a pivotal event in my life. As an industrial hygienist with a branch of the military, 1 was already involved on a regular basis with the resolution of environmental problems on an advisory basis. The EEO suit heightened my awareness of the law and the extent to which legal training could enhance my effectiveness in the ongoing battle against environmental dangers.
Environmental concerns have long been one of my principal passions. This is what prompted me to secure a master's degree in public health, and this is why I have worked for nearly five years in a branch of occupational health. There it is my responsibility to recognize, evaluate, and control environmental hazards in this community of 5,000 to 8,500 employees. 1 interact on a daily basis with everyone from physicians, admirals, and other officers to engineers, blue-collar workers, and enlisted men. I have to keep up-to-date on a wide array of complex codes and regulations that are in a constant state of flux. My background in science, decision-making skills, judgment, ability to interpret data, and capacity for communicating with others—all of these assets are brought into play as I perform my job.
1 realize that a 29-year-old woman with a background in public health perhaps does not fit the profile of the usual law school applicant. However, I have every reason to believe that I am a strong candidate for your first-year class. My 3.93 GPA in my MPH program is a clear indicator of my ability to succeed on the graduate level. Further, my success in my work has demonstrated my resourcefulness, determination, energy, and ability to manage stress and do extensive research. My interest in law is a very logical outgrowth of my commitment to the environment. Up to now I have worked to protect the health and safety of workers solely through recommendations made on an advisory basis. As an attorney 1 will be able to accomplish much more, to have a greater impact across the board. Very few attorneys have my background (degrees in biology, chemistry, and public health, as well as significant hands-on experience), so 1 will be in a unique position to do truly meaningful work and make an important contribution.
FOR THE PAST SEVEN years 1 have spent my summers at a camp in California, first as a camper, then as a counselor and, finally, a division head. The camp is quite remarkable in that each summer it takes in, along with its other campers, approximately 20 children with various learning disabilities, emotional disorders, and mental retardation. For two unforgettable summers 1 worked in the division that included these handicapped children. This proved to be one of the most extraordinary experiences in my life, as it provided me with a chance to interact closely, on a day-to-day basis, with youngsters whose courage and capacity for joy impressed me immensely. Their smiles and laughter were pure, even as they battled very significant personal difficulties for which they were not responsible. Ironically, as 1 worked with these children I was simultaneously fighting a small battle of my own, resisting my initial resistance to and fear of dealing with these children.
Before I got to know these youngsters, I was worried that they would detect my discomfort, catch me staring at them, misinterpret something I might say, or be hurt somehow by my actions or words. 1 felt that something socially unacceptable might occur. As 1 tend to be someone who prefers to eschew confrontation, this at first seemed a threatening possibility. The reality was that once I immersed myself in working with them, my fear of any incidents disappeared. I began relating to these children just as I would normal kids, and they sensed this and responded well. Working with these youngsters, who suffered from Down's syndrome and other serious problems, gave me a greater appreciation for my own health and a new way of relating to others who are ill.
Last summer I was back in camp as a division head. I was responsible for 79 people, including campers and staff, and had ample opportunity to test my skills as a leader, diplomat, and one who gets along well with many different types of individuals.
Deliberately putting myself in a situation that at first makes me uncomfortable is something I have done repeatedly in my life. Being scared makes me conscientious and prompts me to do a good job. In fact, I have discovered that the things I fear the most, the enterprises about which I have the most apprehension, inevitably turn out to be activities in which I excel. Medicine in general certainly represents this kind of challenge, and I would be less than candid if I did not concede that there have been moments in my premed years that I have found intimidating. However, I have also found great exhilaration in the learning process and in finding out that I was equal to any challenges that arose.
My interest in becoming a physician extends back to my childhood, although 1 also considered such possibilities as becoming a businessman, architect, or pilot. My father is a physician, though, so my exposure to the field of medicine was the most regular and intense, and ultimately the most inspiring. Observing my father at work and seeing his satisfaction with what he was accomplishing made a lasting impression on me. How great to do something with such benefits for others and such intrinsic reward for oneself!
For the past year I have had a chance to be a peer health counselor at my university. Working in my dorm, I provide counsel to students with a wide range of emotional and physical problems. This has given me the opportunity to be a leader and educator among my fellow students while also acquiring a little additional insight into the kinds of problems that a health professional confronts.
1 have also worked for two years as a volunteer in my university hospital's emergency room, where I have been able to observe a great diversity of surgeries and the difficult conditions under which
I have discovered that the things I fear the most/ the enterprises about which I have the most apprehension, inevitably turn out to be activities in which I excel.
physicians often must function. 1 have come away from this experience with a better understanding of the sacred nature of the medical profession and the importance of the doctor's work. I have seen the need for both kindness and strength in doctors, and I have been impressed by the variety of skills that a successful physician must bring to play in his or her professional role.
AS AN UNDERGRADUATE I involved myself in a wide array of community service activities, and even now I work 40 hours a week with abused and neglected children. This impulse to serve others and put myself in situations in which I feel I am making a difference likely stems from the very difficult circumstances of my childhood, which so influenced the woman 1 have become.
My mother and father separated when I was six, and 1 was subsequently raised in a single-parent home with a mother who was an alcoholic. My father sent her $300 a month in child support (for two children), so our financial picture was also grim..(I always say my mother is a "master of ground beef' because she had to be so resourceful in stretching our food budget.) Although, fortunately, my mother was a loving parent, her drinking problem necessitated that I learn to take care of myself from a very early age. In addition to becoming independent, I immersed myself in my studies to escape the depressing realities of our family life. It was important to me that I survive and that 1 learn from circumstances rather than being crushed by them. My older sister did not fare so well. She dropped out of high school and, briefly, became addicted to cocaine.
By the time I began college, I was more eager than most freshmen to begin a whole new life because there was so much 1 wanted to put behind me. In high school I had had a full schedule of academic activities but never had an active social life. During my first semester as an undergraduate, not surprisingly, I made up for lost time. In the process, I earned the poorest grades in my academic history. Afterwards I quickly got back on track scholastically, also involving myself in the first of numerous community activities, serving the homeless twice a week in a soup kitchen. Later, as service chairperson, I organized a highly successful food drive for four homeless shelters and a fundraiser for a center helping children with cancer. I also became active in a group that provides big brothers and big sisters for disadvantaged children.
I spent my junior year abroad, studying in Paris. In addition to becoming fluent in French, I eventually wrote a 30-page thesis in that language as well.
In the summer following my return, I worked as a volunteer for the National Center for Immigrants' Rights, which gave me my first experience with legal research, as well as some perspective on what lawyers do. Later I was fortunate to participate in an internship that provided me with truly extraordinary exposure to the legal system. Working 23 hours a week in a district attorney's office (in the economic crimes unit that dealt with fraud, embezzlement, and other white-collar crimes) gave me the opportunity to do extensive legal research, sit in on negotiations with defense counsel, examine and evaluate raw evidence, go to court, develop questions, and analyze the answers we would obtain. Working in the public sector offered me a large dose of reality. 1 was in an excellent position to observe all of the paperwork, postponements, and other frustrations that are part and parcel of practicing law. The long hours, the need for hard work and painstaking attention to detail, and the total absence of glamour were just a few aspects of the legal profession that came into sharp focus for me during my time with the DA. But rather than becoming disillusioned, 1 found myself becoming more interested than ever in preparing myself to become an attorney.
Since graduating I have been quite busy. I spent five weeks with my fiance in his homeland abroad, and also worked for my father, helping put together a newsletter for his property management business. For the past two months 1 have been a child care worker, serving as a surrogate parent and role model for seven 12- to 14-year-old boys living in a residential treatment center for abused and neglected children. The tragic and unbelievable stories to which I have been exposed in this job make me feel that my own childhood was privileged by comparison.
1 am the only person in my immediate family lucky enough to have received a higher education. Now, as I look to the future, 1 recognize my continuing need for independence and my desire to establish myself. My life to date has prepared me for dealing with many obstacles and also shown me the resilience, strength, determination, and optimism that are so much a part of my character.
AS A DOCTOR'S SON 1 have been exposed to medicine all my life and independently developed a special interest in the sciences at an early age. It wasn't until my junior year in high school, however, when I saw my father bring a new child into the world, that I knew for sure that 1 wanted to become a doctor myself.
As 1 watched my father interacting with the expectant mother, trying to help her relax, then delivering her infant, 1 was profoundly moved: The expression "the miracle of life" assumed new meaning for me. I realized at that moment that doctors are involved in boih the worst and the most wonderful moments in the lives of others and are in a unique position to help out on either type of occasion
1 believe that my summer work in various medical facilities demonstrates my strong interest in and dedication to becoming a doctor, and 1 feel my grades indicate my aptitude in dealing with the kinds of courses that are a part of every medical school's curriculum
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