Over the 2022 holiday break, the BC Law Impact blog is running a series of some of the most powerful and fascinating admissions essays from first-year students. These personal statements, submitted as part of their admissions applications, tell a variety of compelling stories, but the thread connecting them all is an example of the kind of person who is attracted to a BC Law education: one who is driven to work collaboratively with others, achieve great things and make a real difference in the world.
We want to thank the Office of Admissions, and all of the student essay writers, for agreeing to share their stories with us. For more Admissions tips and other content, check out BC Law’s new TikTok channel.
On April 8, 2015, my pops slowly pulled in front of my high school to drop me off. As if it was any other day, he pressed play on the cassette tape in his ’04 Chevy Impala and Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day” seeped through the speakers. Usually we would sing along, but not today. As soon as the song ended, we hugged.
“For when I’m dead or gone,” my pops whispered in my ear.
“I love you.” I cried. Growing up, this was our shared expression. Since Pops hustled in the streets daily, we accepted the reality that my dad could very well die or be arrested at any moment. While I didn’t overthink our expression on a typical day, this day was like no other.
As I left the car, the sobering frigid wind dried my eyes. With $20,000 in my North Face backpack, there was no room for mistakes: this was all the money my family had.
The night before, my father received a tip that the US Drug Enforcement Agency was planning to raid our house. Since I was a little boy, Pops had prepared us for moments like this. If the police ever came knocking, I knew I had to grab our money and stash it in my school locker—that was my role. Growing up, I did not have the privilege to play outside or hang out with friends; I had to be on standby.
That night Pops asked me, “Are you ready?”
As I confidently nodded, Pops and I shared a glance, and for a moment, I saw myself in his eyes. If my father was arrested in the coming hours, I wondered, “What would become of me? Will I too ask this of my child?” While this thought occurred often, this was neither the time nor place. I had a responsibility to see through.
As I left the cold April morning and entered the building, I quickly went to my locker and inconspicuously stashed our money. Four hours into the school day, Pops texted me, “All clear. You can bring home that paper.” While my worries slowly evaporated, I became gravely concerned with my family’s future—especially my own. Pops only knew the streets and had two nonviolent drug convictions to show for it. Most jobs did not give him a shot with his rap sheet, and those that did would not provide him with enough to support a single father raising three boys. Once I returned this money, I knew Pops would pick up right where he left off, continuing to roll the dice to support his family. I admired his ambition as a father, but I was afraid of the path he would continue to travel. While Pops may have thought he had one avenue, anything would be possible if he could place his ambition elsewhere. When I returned home, my goal was to show the possibilities outside of the drug game.
Pops always expressed his desire to own a legal business but could never find the path to actualizing his dream. For Pops, securing enough capital was the primary obstacle. Pops could not secure a loan from a financial lending institution because of his previous incarceration. Moreover, whenever I probed his lack of motivation to start a business, he scoffed, “What do I know about starting a business?” Without hesitation, I quickly drew parallels between selling weed and running a business. “Are you serious?” he answered. I retorted, “In both professions, one must locate a product that would likely yield a profit. From there, understand the market and find the right customer; all while differentiating yourself from other competitors. You do the same shit in the streets.” Although I was frustrated, I understood that Pops could not view his skills as assets because his criminality tinged them. To rework this framework, I utilized education as a vessel to empower him to leverage his experiences to transition his mentality from neighborhood drug courier to CEO.
On the journey to transforming Pops to CEO, we watched countless Shark Tank episodes and YouTube videos on starting a business. Together we read from Steven Rogers’ Entrepreneurial Finance and gradually accumulated enough information to write out a business plan. Midway through this experience, Pops confessed, “Now I’m starting to see what you were upset about. I see the similarities.” With some money and a bit of education as a guiding light, we created an affordable headstone company, Light After Death Monuments. With Pops now having a legal, self-sustaining occupation, my fear for his future and freedom began to dissipate. As grateful as I am to share that I do not remember the last time Pops or I said, “For when I’m dead or gone,” others who may have had a parent who has been incarcerated or is a convicted felon are not as fortunate, and that is my concern. Because money and education are the most considerable barriers for formerly incarcerated people, one of my passions behind pursuing law school lies in creating pathways for such individuals that enable them to be financially self-sufficient while transforming their perceived deficits into actualized assets.
Fax Amillion Victor is a first-year student at BC Law.