This was my personal statement when I applied to law schools. I decided to post it up here because it's helpful to others who are applying for law school, and sometimes I need to reread this to remind myself why I'm here lol
I am dance. I feel the passion and I hear the beat, and I have to move. As I apply to law school, I think of the moment in dance that occurs between hearing the beat of the music and responding to it. My determination to attend law school is guided by a similar beat: that of experiences and testimonies, broken hearts and hopeful struggles, and the power of persistence through the force of desperation. I am the process, the in-between, from the idea to the movement. My passion to work in international human rights directs my decision to go to law school, and I step with purpose.
The two overseas experiences that carry the strongest beats include my first visit to Pakistan and my study abroad semester in Egypt. My first interaction with the rest of the world occurred in Karachi at the age of ten. It was no easy introduction: children in torn clothes knocked on car windows and begged for money, drivers and servants attended to the rich, and guards carried guns. The shock from these encounters was beyond what my young mind could comprehend. I would meditate about the disturbing scenes and deliberate possible solutions to resolve the discrepancies that plagued my thoughts. This was the first of several extensive visits to my parents’ country from which they immigrated to Chicago many years ago. With them they brought $100, a dream to study psychology, a hope to provide a more privileged life for their children, and the determination to act on this passion.
During this visit to Pakistan, I started to report my observations and reactions in a journal. Through writing, I learned to logically organize my thoughts and to communicate effectively in diverse ways. These skills were essential in the work that I performed in Egypt: I conducted research, presented oral proposals, and wrote detailed analyses about local human rights issues. This recent semester abroad in Cairo reignited the spark that the experiences of Pakistan had left in my heart.
My research focused specifically on NGOs’ efforts to promote human rights, the government’s level of adherence to protecting its citizens from torture, international and internal pressure, and the core reasons behind increasing human rights violations in Egypt. Watching cases of sexual harassment against women and the torture of minority citizens by policemen on the streets of Cairo brought to life what I had researched. It reminded me that these situations were not unique to Egypt, but were common international issues that I had witnessed before but was reluctant to accept. Now required to accept the reality, I was maturing rapidly and discovering new ways to further increase my knowledge and broaden my perspective. I interviewed many people who had been tortured for expressing free speech, including a famous blogger who was physically beaten by policemen for posting videos of torture conducted by government officials. As he described his experience, the complexities of the human rights issue became more perceptible. This interview was just one of the many stories I heard in which my motivation to study international human rights was renewed and revived. Both my research and observations have inspired me to make a difference in countries such as Egypt by working with, inter alia, the non-profit sector and the legal system.
My overseas encounters in conjunction with my multicultural upbringing, university education, and strong work ethic have contributed to my academic development and professional maturity. My dedication and passion for learning has driven me to take challenging course loads, consequently enabling me to graduate a semester early. I see myself as a product of the American, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern cultures, and I view the world through all of these lenses. As a lawyer, I aim to use my diverse background to give a voice to underrepresented minority groups including women, prisoners, immigrants, and refugees. I will gain the opportunities, skills, and understanding of the world that I must have to make a difference in it through the study of law.
My decisions in life are guided primarily by passion, followed by the logic and rationale that I apply in determining how to execute these decisions. I paint with clashing colors, I run miles in blizzards, and I play the violin to hip-hop beats. Now, I want to continue utilizing my skills and acting on my passions by making a difference in the lives of others through international human rights law. I am dance, and the study of law is the next step in the choreography that inevitably follows from the beat of my life.