It’s the United States, especially among refugees. My parents

It’s hard growing up when you think nobody
can relate to you. 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 distributed handouts for our
parents to fill out if we wanted to participate and learn about the kind of
work they do. Breathless from running, I presented the paper 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 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, the more I realized that I had an opportunity to do
better. As a result, I gained confidence and developed self-reliance at a young
age. However, I was unsatisfied. My passion for social equality and justice
grew because I wanted to use my experience and knowledge to unite split
communities and help people overcome adversities.

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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
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 the 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.