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"foster-care, juvenile cour system" - My Law School Personal Statement


hmwilliam 1 / 3  
Oct 17, 2010   #1
I am looking for feedback on both content and grammar. As for the content, I am wondering if you think parts are redundant, unnecessary, drawn out, if it has a good flow to it, and if it makes a compelling case for why I should be admitted. Any feedback would be extremely helpful.

Thanks in advance!!


In the United States there are over 500,000 kids in foster-care. Many are placed into foster-care because of neglect, abuse, or abandonment. They often live with relatives, trained foster-parents, or in the interim, residential facilities. Unfortunately, this number only continues to grow annually, and increasingly, it is becoming more difficult to find suitable living arrangements for those foster-care youth on the waiting list. Proper advocacy and illustration of the hardships experienced by those children requires more education. With that in mind, I am applying to the JD program at the (_____) School of Law.

Although the juvenile court system does not always work, in my case it did. When I was only five years old, my father was arrested and imprisoned for sexual abuse. My mother, who had come to the United States from Mexico, was hospitalized due to severe mental illness caused by years of drug abuse. As a result, I received my first exposure to the judiciary. The parental rights of my mother and father were terminated. I was then made a ward of the court, adjudicated a CINA (Child In Need of Assistance), appointed a Guardian Ad Litem, and placed into foster-care, respectively. My grandmother was initially appointed as my foster-parent and I lived under her care sporadically throughout the years, until she passed away.

While living in foster-care, nearly every situation in my life - no matter how simple or how complex - required a hearing before the Court. A hearing would be held to determine what school I should go to, where I should live, what services I needed, or how long I should stay in residential facilities. Each of those decisions required follow-up hearings to monitor the progress of whatever order was issued. Considering the frequency of the hearings, it was no surprise that I came to know the judge and attorneys more than I had known my own parents. Juvenile court, in many respects, was my substitute for a traditional family. I made many lifelong friendships, received considerable guidance, and experienced just how powerful juvenile court can be in influencing a person's character, aspirations and opportunities - similar to the way a typical family would influence one of its members.

Many aspects of juvenile court influenced who I am today, but most constructive were the guidance and counsel I received from the attorney appointed to represent me. This was important because direction was generally absent from the places where I lived. The residential facilities or emergency shelters for youth provided the bare necessities, none of which included planning for or consideration of the future. And, unfortunately, it was a general belief that most of the children living in those facilities would not complete high school.

Responding accordingly to the overwhelming absence of role-models and expectations, many (including me) dropped out of high school before graduation. This not surprisingly led to a downhill spiral for many of my peers and would have done the same for me if it weren't for my attorney, who, unlike many others, had faith in my ability to overcome my situation. He committed himself to helping me achieve what most thought I couldn't and, because of his kindness and the direction he provided me with-in the courtroom and beyond- it eventually sank in that I did have the ability to change my life. And so I did.

Although I was a no-show in high school, I was determined to change the direction of my life. I went back and received my high school diploma and, despite all odds, made it through college. Without a permanent home to return to, I had to work continuously throughout high school, community college, and later Iowa State University in order to support myself. And though the traditional college experience was out of the question for me, I sought to maximize my college experience by being a participating and contributing member of the community, the university, and the student body. At Iowa State I was a student leader and an active member of the community. I served on various university and city committees, boards, and commissions, and participated in the Iowa caucus as a staff member for Governor Bill Richardson's campaign. However, my perpetual need to be financially self-sufficient required a delicate balance between work, school, and my desire to pursue an education while being an active member of the community.

Fortunately I made it this far. Being first generation in America, a foster-child, and a high school dropout, the probability of graduating from college was not very great. Yet, I have achieved more than my parents and more than most people might have expected I would. I was able to do it because I had a mentor and an advocate who believed in and inspired me. With that in mind, I am hoping to offer to others in need the same level of advocacy, hope, and encouragement that I received because the children in juvenile court are full of promise and potential, and I am determined to help as many as I can self-actualize. My experience is proof that, when provided with the opportunity, children can overcome the adversity they once faced and defy the staggering odds against them.

In my case, the odds were defied only because of the intervention of the juvenile court system, the people I met as a result of that intervention, and the ensuing inspiration that informed my goals. Without the intervention of juvenile court my dysfunctional and abusive parents would have raised me and I know the result would not have been the same. Thankfully, I am able to consider myself a proud product of the capable state juvenile court system. Members of this institution protected me, nurtured me, lectured me, and raised me. For these reasons, I have held the dream of making a difference in the lives of those youth who, like me, would otherwise have had little chance of success but for the intervention of juvenile court. To that end, I hope to obtain the education and experience necessary to zealously represent and successfully advocate for those youth by attending (_____) School of Law.

Many factors influenced my decision to apply to (______) School of Law including, among other things, my desire to pursue a legal career in public interest aimed at representing and advocating for one of the most underrepresented demographics-children. I am moreover confident that few, if any, schools could better equip me with the practical skills necessary for a career in public service than can (___) School of Law.

It is for these reasons that I seek admission. I understand there are many applicants who may have better academic credentials than I, but, if accepted, there are none who would be prouder to be part of the (___) School of Law's tradition of "Law in the Service of Human Needs." I am a beneficiary of the far-reaching consequences of this mission and hope you will provide me with an opportunity to advance it.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Oct 21, 2010   #2
In the United States, there ar e over 500,000 kids are in foster-care.

... severe mental illness caused by years of drug abuse. ----- or was the drug abuse caused by mental illness? Maybe this is a good place to write "associated with mental illness."

And, unfortunately, it was a general belief that most of the children living in those facilities would not complete high school. --- well you showed that you can not only succeed academically but also become a skillful writer. This essay is very impressive.

...delicate balance between of work, school, and my desire to pursue an education while being an active member of the community.

Whenever you have a compound sentence, use a comma before the conjunction (see Strunk and White): I am a beneficiary of the far-reaching consequences of this mission, and I hope you will provide me with an opportunity to advance it.

oh! Nevermind! I had to add the word "I" there (above) to make it a compound sentence. The way you originally wrote it was fine.

No, I do not think this is repetitive, and really this is going to impress them. I'm sure you'll make a lot of positive differences in the world!


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