Law School Personal Statement Example #1

When my mother, a native of Michoacan, Mexico, was 28 weeks pregnant with me, she took a trip to visit relatives in Carpinteria, California and stayed long enough to give birth so that I would be a US citizen. I didn’t even know I was a US citizen until I was 10 years old when my parents announced we were moving to the US where my father had secured a job working with a cousin of his in construction. My mother assured me that my two sisters and I would be ok because “we had our papers” and that life in California would be much better for us all. Life had been tough in Mexico, but it was home. It was all I knew. I saw the toll that joblessness and underemployment took on my father and my parents’ relationship. I saw the pain in my mother’s eyes when she would give us her dinner when we asked for second helpings and go without eating herself. I decided that if moving meant being rid of these problems that it would be ok with me. Always resilient and inquisitive as the oldest, I was in tune with a lot of the dynamics inherent in the household, and I realized later on that the stress and struggle heavily impacted me and shaped my self-concept.

I joined the Association of Hispanic Students (AHS) as a freshman at Carpinteria College. I grew up around many people who had backgrounds similar to mine, so I never had to think critically about what it meant to hold a minority identity—or several for that matter (Latina, female, first-generation, low-income…). When I got to college, I began to explore the intersections of socioeconomic status, ethnicity and nationality, race, gender and the other identities that shape how people move through the world and experience it relative to others. It was as a member of this group that I began studying social justice and social justice issues. Through my studies I also began to better understand my parents and the decisions they made. I was inspired to learn more about their own stories and self-conceptions, so I began talking to them more as well as others in my extended family, my neighborhood, and town. I was so inspired by these narratives that I decided to major in English with a concentration in Latin American Literature. I eventually compiled these stories into a book called Mi Nombre Es…Esperanza (My Name Is…Hope), which earned me national attention from several organizations working at the intersections of minority affairs, social justice, and immigration; and I became celebrated in some smaller literary circles. All of this was very exciting. Through my social justice work, I came across Critical Race Theory (CRT), which had grown out of Critical Legal Studies (CLS), and I began studying them both. This opened my eyes to a whole new level of understanding about the systems in which we operate—especially the legal system. Little did I know, my eyes were about to be opened even further due to life events.

As a commuter student, I returned home from school one day two years ago to learn that my father had “been caught” and was going to be sent back to Mexico. Devastation does not begin to capture what I felt upon hearing the news. My father had worked diligently since our arrival almost ten years ago to secure a better future for us. He’d saved enough money to leave construction work and open up his own plant nursery and landscape business. He was stopped on his way home from work one day and asked for “his papers” as part of a routine stop allowed under legislation that was passed in the state (and other states like Arizona), giving the police the authority to stop anyone who “looks suspicious”. The criminalization of my father and others like him infuriated me. I began learning everything I could about immigration law, state and national legislation surrounding immigrants and status, and the systems in which operate that make this ok. It didn’t seem right to me that I could stay and continue my education at the college level while my father was being sent back to Mexico where he had nothing. What would happen to the family without him? Unfortunately, this is an ongoing situation that my family and I are dealing with. The ramifications have been many. The nursery and business are family run, so my uncles and cousins have stepped in to fill the gaps in my father’s absence. But the gaps in my heart and my family cannot be so easily filled.

My interest in social justice issues, Critical Legal Studies, and my strong writing abilities and academic record—coupled with my personal lens and passion—make me an ideal candidate for Lawman University. The institution is at the frontier of social justice issues within the field of law and has a strong immigration law curriculum. While many institutions claim to “value diversity” and emphasize inclusion, Lawman walks the walk and has done so throughout its 73-year history. As a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), Lawman values and respects its students and is a place I could call home while becoming a lawyer equipped with the knowledge and ability to move change forward. We are in an election cycle where rhetoric surrounding immigrants continues to be problematic at best and dangerous at worst. I want to understand the perspectives on all sides so that I can strengthen my position and argument (like any good attorney) for why there must be reform if America is going to continue to be great as we move into a new era of increased globalization and mobility amongst groups of people the world over. I take my charge more seriously than ever, as I realize like never before that the issues of social justice aren’t just intellectual or theoretical—it’s a matter of life and death and quality of life for millions of people. It always has been.

My long-term goal is to become a law professor like Jimena Ortiz, a Lawman alumna who teaches immigration law at Miami College of Law and is a leader in the field of immigration studies and a strong social justice advocate. I also hope that through my education I can help my father, my family, and others like us who are living the lives we study about and hear about on the news but who don’t have the voice or resources to advocate for themselves. My name is Esperanza Maria Hidalgo. My name is Hope. And my hope is to gain acceptance into Lawman University and spread hope for others.