hi, this is my personal statement, I plan on sending it out to schools tomorrow...any feedback?
I remember my sister waking me up before the sun had even risen. We lived in a modest home in a small, average, New Jersey town with one bathroom and very little space between the bedrooms. I could see my father had just come out of the shower and was shaving while my mother was laying out our best clothes. There was a look of anxiety on my parents’ faces. My sister, who is three years older than me was nine. She was quite aware of where we were going, for this had become a yearly routine, whereas I was too young to remember or comprehend my past experiences.
We sat in my father’s mini/work-van and waited for our attorney to arrive so that we could head to Newark, New Jersey together. It was mid April, and the sun was barely rising when we parked the van. We stood on a line which wrapped around a whole city block, waiting to enter a large, gray building. Outside in front of the building stood a sign which read “Federal Building—Immigration Services”. We were there to plead our case for a re-entry visa to the United States. My parents had left their home country and families over six years ago, and were now seeking permission from the INS to go back for a visit, and then return to the United States. After standing on line and sitting in the waiting room for hours, we finally had our opportunity to meet with an immigration officer.
My parents lived in Syria, under the tyrannical military regime of Hafez Al-Assad. Many of the human rights and liberties we enjoy here in the United States such as freedom of speech, the right to protest, and the right to a fair trial, were either unrecognized or were punishable by law and grounds for imprisonment. Syria lacked a humane political and judicial structure, and gave very little opportunity or civil liberties to its citizens. Desperation led my father to apply for a lottery work visa to America and as luck would have it, his name would be picked. He, my mother and my sister immigrated to The United States in May of 1986, roughly three months before I was born.
After moving to the United State, my parents dreamed of visiting their families and friends even though the political situation in Syria was far from ideal. That year, our request for a re-entry visa would be rejected, just like the years before and several years after. Visiting the INS offices year after year proved to have a significant impact on my life. They were my first real encounters with the US immigration and legal system. Furthermore, it gave me a unique perspective and ironically, an appreciation for the US legal system which I could not have received in any other way.
Although we were met with constant rejection, we couldn’t help but admire the treatment of the INS towards us; the uniform procedures, the luxury of having an attorney present, and the freedom to request a visa without being persecuted or subjected to fear tactics. The US immigration system treated us with dignity and respect, especially when compared to the oppression my family faced in Syria. These experiences have collectively provided me with invaluable life knowledge, and have encouraged me to become part of the US legal system.
Living in the United States proved to offer many opportunities and many challenges. Education has always been highly regarded in my family; however, our financial obligations required that I work from an early age. Upon graduating high school, I enrolled at the local community college on a full time basis while simultaneously working at a financial company full time. The opportunity to work and do my part to support the family was necessary. As I began to excel in my career, I shifted my focus from education, to finance, and started to attend college on a part time basis.
I quickly learned the ins and outs of the business, and looked to take my career to the next level. At age 20, within less than two years of being in the financial industry, I became one of the youngest mortgage brokers in the State of New Jersey. I partnered with a friend of mine, and opened my own financial office in May of 2006. Although I achieved high levels of success in a relatively short amount of time, I never lost sight of my goal to finish my college education. Even throughout my most successful years in the industry, I knew that nothing could equate to the fulfillment of knowing I had completed my college education. My goal wasn’t to simply make money, but to pursuit a fulfilling and challenging career in law. Thus, I continued attending college on a part time basis.
In October 2008, I was offered position with JP Morgan Chase. The opportunity to work at a big corporation presented new challenges and valuable experiences. I accepted the position and became a full time employee in November of that year. However, as time went on, my family’s financial situation improved. My father opened a successful business, and my monetary contribution to the family no longer became a necessity. With the relief of my financial burden, I seized the opportunity to return to school full time and resigned from my position at JP Morgan Chase.
Working in a professional environment for five years seriously strengthened me as a person. It helped me mature, and develop a deep appreciation for the value of education. Leaving the financial industry, my valuable contacts, and my hard earned position was a serious decision, however it was voluntary. Attending university was a challenge that was not forced upon me, but rather a well calculated decision. I returned to community college on a full time basis in the summer of 2009 and graduated the following December. By January 2010, I became a full time student at Montclair State University.
My past experiences have consistently played a critical role in my life. My family’s experiences of oppression in Syria, and our immigration difficulties here in America truly helped me admire how valuable human rights are, and how critical a fair judicial system is. Furthermore my work experience has given me the competence and ability to succeed in any environment, and to recognize and seize any opportunity when it presents itself.