Personal Statement - Example No. 6

Class of 2006

I grew up without a television, and consequently, I was the elementary school equivalent of a circus freak. Other than that oddity, I had a “normal” childhood. I went to public school, studied music, and played sports. Although a few of my classmates thought otherwise, not having a television did not make me insane, Amish or, my personal favorite, a nun. My parents simply believed that time is valuable and should be spent on more productive pursuits than television. Instead of watching “Saved By the Bell” like my friends, I read.

I read voraciously, a passion that I still pursue. I devoured books in the car on the way to field hockey practice or percussion lessons. My fifth grade repertoire ranged from The Babysitters' Club to Jane Eyre to a college textbook on the Wars of the Roses. By the time I entered junior high, it was no longer my parents' decision to eschew television that set me apart from my peers, but the results of that choice. My extensive reading awakened in me a love of learning, of uncovering new ideas and stories. I applied this enthusiasm to academics by putting forth my full effort to gain as much as possible from each course. Reading also deepened my interest in the Christian faith that my parents passed on to me. Although I soon realized that ecclesiastical history is dominated by the failure of men and women to follow the commands of Christ, I also learned the less familiar accounts of those who sacrificed their lives or comforts to help others. Their actions reminded me that I, too, must work to help those in need of aid and justice, and that my faith must be active rather than merely a set of abstract morals.

The summer before my senior year of high school, I volunteered with a social worker in the Dominican Republic for a few weeks. I taught English and Spanish to impoverished adolescent girls and educated them on how to avoid the physical and sexual abuse rampant in their community. Their formal education was extremely limited, and they had very few options for the future. I was struck by how much in my life I had taken for granted, from living in a house with electricity and running water to studying at school rather than working in a field harvesting sweet potatoes. Spending time with these girls strengthened my sense of duty to fulfill my potential and to take full advantage of the many opportunities given to me, opportunities that my friends in the Dominican Republic will likely never enjoy.

This past summer, I studied politics in London and completed an internship in the House of Commons. One of the requirements of my study program was a dissertation on an issue or aspect of British politics. Since I have always been interested in bioethics, I wrote about the House of Lords and its influence on policy concerning embryonic stem cell research and physician assisted suicide. Studying these issues in the United Kingdom extended my interests in human rights and bioethics to the international level. My inclination toward studying law had developed gradually throughout college, and this experience confirmed my desire to gain a better understanding of the law and its application to these complex issues, since I hope to eventually add my voice and perspective to these debates using my legal degree.

Although as a child I occasionally wished that my parents would buy a television so that I would be “just like everyone else,” I now appreciate their wisdom. Living away from home with peers who play video games and watch television incessantly has heightened my awareness of the value of time and of my responsibility to myself and to others to spend it wisely and to fully utilize my abilities. I look forward to the challenge of law school and to the opportunities that it will bring to my future.