My Personal Statement: Learning From Adversity

Just days into my law school experience, I was beginning to crack under the pressure of my classmates’ impressive achievements. I had met lots of amazing people I would be spending the next three years with, and I already felt as if I was behind schedule.

Their lives seemed filled with work experiences in fabulous cities, fancy internships with important people and exquisite accomplishments at the country’s top schools. These experiences were just part of their lives, or at least so it seemed. I could not help but wonder—what was I doing here?

With a full-blown identity crisis looming, I felt this strange urge to go back to what I knew, to remember why I was at BC Law in the first place. So I searched through my files and re-read my personal statement.

Looking back, I guess I wrote it as a sort of subdued rebellion against the entire law school admissions process, choosing to illustrate my not-so-glamorous experiences rather than those that I felt would “impress” admissions offices. More specifically, I wrote about economic instability in my life and how it has shaped who I am today. I grew up in a single-parent household, coming to terms at an early age with adult issues like being behind on bills or having to scrape together enough money to make it through the week. I put myself through college, relying on part-time jobs and babysitting gigs to pay rent. While my resume showed off leadership positions, internships and academic achievement, most of my actual college experience consisted of driving kids to and from school, working between classes at a boring on-campus job, and waiting tables during the occasional night shift at a local waffle shop.

Eventually I began to realize that the seemingly menial jobs I took on instilled in me values of commitment, understanding, perseverance and gratitude. While I had worked so hard to hide or over-compensate for my economic instability, it was that struggle that taught me the most.

Much like my resume, we all tend to project only the best parts of ourselves to the world, choosing to hide our struggles and insecurities from everyone else. But it is our adversity–and how we handle our hardest moments–that truly make us who we are. Instead of fighting to hide our struggles, we should discuss them openly, while working to help ease the burdens of others. It was understanding both the positive and negative power of struggle itself that ultimately motivated me to pursue a career in law, in order to help others with their own problems and fight those problems head-on.

Reading my statement so many months later, I was comforted by the words of my past-self. My feelings of inadequacy began to melt away as I realized that my trials and tribulations were ultimately what led me to BC Law. Whether you are thinking about attending law school, or have just arrived on campus like me, it’s important to realize that the unique circumstances of our strengths and struggles work to benefit us individually, but also as a student body, and as a society.

We don’t usually begin introductions by describing our biggest challenges in life, but maybe we should–because those challenges help shape us into who we are today, and give us both passion and purpose and the drive to make the world a better place.

Devon Sanders is a first-year student at BC Law and a new Impact blogger. She loves hearing from readers! Email her at

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