I no job training in technical, higher paying

            I was a shy toddler who had been
exposed to a different culture growing up. My lack of ability to socially and
culturally adjust in a school setting caused a feeling of indifference toward
my peers. Half-way through my fourth-grade school year, I remember looking for
a plausible excuse to skip class during the week. Anything to get out of
school. My opportunity arrived when my teacher announced to the class
information about the informal holiday, “Take Your Child to Work Day.” She
passed out a paper form for our parents to fill out if we wanted to participate
and learn about the kind of work they do. I rushed home to deliver the news to
my mother before my older siblings demand her attention. Breathless from
running, I presented the paper form to my mom and began convincing her to bring
me along for work. That scheme I pulled to ditch class for a day changed my
life, because it was the first time I learned my mom’s job was housecleaning,
that we were poor, and that my parents were uneducated.

            My experience opened my eyes up to
social and economic inequalities in the United States, especially among
refugees. My parents fled post-civil war Yugoslavia in the mid-90s. With the
collapse of the federation and ongoing violence, they lost their home in
modern-day Croatia, where my Father faced discrimination for being an ethnic
Serb. As I got older, I started to see how these dynamics affected my family’s
economic opportunities. Both my parents could not speak English, both never
went to high school, and both had no job training in technical, higher paying
work. The more I looked at our situation with a critical eye, the more I
realized that I had an opportunity to do better, to succeed in life—a chance
that was taken away from my parents. As a result, I gained confidence and
developed self-reliance at a young age. However, I was not satisfied with just
that. I wanted to empower others. My passion for social equality and justice
grew because I wanted to use my experience and knowledge to unite fragmented
communities and help people overcome adversities.

I come from a background in nonprofit work
and community engagement. This background shapes my intellectual and
professional values. I have operated community organizations and volunteer
efforts for food drives and donor funding campaigns, both domestically and
abroad. I began at a local youth center in Sarasota, Florida and ended with an
internship 7,000 miles away from home at United Way Japan (UUJ). In this
position, I was responsible for drafting proposals for Fortune 500 companies’
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities and maintaining a
corporate-relations database. I provided research and insight on important
social issues in Japan, corporate initiatives and goals, and government
involvement. This position focused heavily on Corporate-NGO relations. I also
collaborated with our partner organization, Central Community Chest of Japan
(CCCJ), to improve the lives of people across Japan in areas of education,
health, and financial stability. In this position I was able to observe the
similarities and differences between grassroot, nonprofit organizations, and
peoples’ attitude toward nonprofit work and donations, in America and Japan.

            Prior to studying abroad, I had an
internship for a lobbying group in Washington D.C. The National Conference of
State Legislatures (NCSL) is the only prominent, bipartisan lobbying
organization for state-federal issues. My responsibilities in this position was
providing administrative and technical assistance, research and writing about
different international legislatures and delegates, and event planning for an
annual Summit, where over 6,000 legislators and their staff from all over the
world would come together to discuss best practices and ideas. Working in this
position was crucial in solidifying my desire to attend law school. I attended
many Think Tank events and congressional hearings about government policies in
business, environment and trade. The legal perspective provided by experts on
these issues was both complex and fascinating. I walked up the steps of the
Supreme Court of the United States of America and became inspired by the motto
“Equal Justice Under Law.” I interacted with legal experts and lawyers from
different backgrounds, political beliefs and ideology. I learned that they used
their legal education and expertise to advocate on issues they felt passionate
about. Collaborating with these people gave me a better understanding of how my
hunger for social justice could interact and be reinforced with my interest in
law.

            My experiences volunteering in the
community and interning for NPOs taught me that I need to get more active in
the issues I am passionate about. My experiences dealing with poverty and
coming from a different cultural background taught me to overcome the
difficulties life throws at you. I expect law school to give me the tools to
better unite and work with diverse communities. I also expect to be challenged
intellectually, and have more opportunities opened for me in the future. I hope
to further empower more groups of people as I strive for social justice and
equality.