“Cease fire, cease fucking fire! I said cease fucking fire Privates!” As I put My M4 rifle on safe mode and pointed the muzzle downward, I looked to my Left and right toward my battle buddies at the United States Army infantry basic training. As soon as I turned my head to where all the drill sergeants were gathered, I felt a chill running down my back. A week prior, one of my battle buddies was shot in the head during a training course called “NIC at Night. “This time, it was a suicide. In my head I heard, “Why am I here? Why did I choose to be an infantryman? I don’t want to die.”
I took my first step in America when I was twelve years old with a Mickey Mouse backpack on my back and two gigantic suitcases in both of my hands. I n my pocket contained two good-bye letters written by my parents in Korca, My Korean-American legal guardians welcomed me to America with a big friendly “Hello!” I didn’t know the language but recognized the phrase (rom television. Everything changed once I stepped into their home. At dinner tables, I mastered the skill of quickly grabbing and eating food from dishes while they looked away. I mastered hiding my money and keeping a spending record, because it would “disappear” otherwise. I mastered leaving good impression on my friends’ mothers so that they would give me rides home to my drunk guardian. And I mastered deceiving my parents over the phone, so they would not worry.
I was not, however, able to master the skill of ignoring the sceneries of families eating out ~t restaurants. I used to have reoccurring dreams of chasing after my parents and my sister, but no matter how hard I ran toward them, I could not get any closer.
When I was sixteen, my parents and older sister joined me in this country.
I was finally able to wake up every day to the smell of my mother’s cooking and the sound of my father and sister waking up. The sights of families eating out at restaurants no longer made me sad. I could not ask for anything more.
There is a saying in Korean, “The moment when you put your guard down is the moment you get hurt.” When I left for college, my parents’ fights increased while my sister’s depression worsened. It broke my heart to see my sister sitting in a wheelchair one day, her hair all over the place, refusing to see any of us at the hospital. After a series of other heartbreaking events, my father left our family.
It was then that I chose to become an Infantryman for the United States Army National Guard. Before I left for basic training, I pictured myself being free from all the family responsibilities back at home. But a different kind of responsibility awaited me at basic training. As a squad leader, it was my duty to care for those under me before caring for myself. If there was not enough food, I had to let the men under me eat first, settling for very small portions. And if the security shifts did not allow all of my squad to get sleep I had to yield my sleeps to others. We were all family; there were no “I’s.” If one person made a mistake, we all received punishment. If one person achieved a merit, we all received the award.
One morning, it was about 0600 and we were ruck-marching with eighty pounds of equipment on our bodies. After a while, our platoon found ourselves carrying and passing around an extra rucksack of a battle buddy who could barely march anymore. Our chain was only as strong as our weakest link.
In the rank of Specialist today, I make sure that the privates are consistently improving as infantrymen and I engage in their personal lives to make sure they are not experiencing any troubles outside of their uniforms. Through all of my experience in basic training, I learned to accept my life back at home. It was on me to make the weakest link in our family chain become stronger, and to this day I believe that about my role in my family.
I know I will approach the challenges of law school in this same way with an intention of improving those around me by improving myself. Today, there are many soldiers who are going through more trying difficulties than I have, and those soldiers, including the wounded veterans, in some instances have trouble legally representing themselves. I plan to become a JAG officer in the United States Army to become a voice for my brothers and sisters in arms.
JD ADMISSION REVIEW
Be sure that when you tell a story in your essay-especially a great one-it fits somehow into your statement’s overall theme.
I am enthralled and want to continue reading to learn more about this candidate and his experience in the military. I also see moments of promise in his writing ability, at least initially.
This essay contains some beautiful, sincere moments. I love the detail about his Mickey Mouse backpack. I love the heartbreaking genuineness of this sentence: “I used to have reoccurring dreams of chasing after my parents and my sister, but no matter how hard I ran toward them, I could not get any closer.”
In particular, the following statements illustrate a powerful link between his background/home life and his military experience: “Through all of my experience in basic training, I learned to accept my life back at home. It was on me to make the weakest link in our family chain become stronger, and to this day I believe that about my role in my family.” That said, he misses an opportunity to flesh this idea out (though he would need to do so briefly, given that this essay is already long) by adding a sentence or two to clarify the following: How did his behavior change when he moved back home? How did he treat and view his family differently?
In some places, the candidate’s writing is awkward, and he regularly uses words incorrectly. For example, the word “sceneries” does not mean what he thinks in this sentence: “I was not, however, able to master the skill of ignoring the sceneries of families eating out at restaurants.” He means “scenes of,” which is better than “sceneries,” but “sight” would be even better. And even though the numerous grammar and spelling issues throughout the essay may not be problematic enough to warrant a rejection, they can be distracting to the reader and thereby lessen the impact of the stories he is sharing.
Further, I am a little ‘confused by this sentence: “It broke my heart to see my sister sitting in a wheelchair one day, her hair all over the place, refusing to see any of us at the hospital.” If she would not allow him to visit, how could he have seen what she looked like at the time? Although I can imagine what the explanation for this might be, a little clarification would prevent the reader from becoming confused, which is another distraction.
Finally, by the end of the essay, I am not quite sure what the overall statement’s theme is. For example, I do not know why the candidate introduced his family. He should find a way to somehow incorporate the discussion of his family and the redefinition of his familial role into how he views his future legal career.
This candidate’s essay includes a lot of great material. If he added a few sentences to connect his military experience with his family experience and to explain how these experiences relate in turn to his law school aspirations, his personal statement would read more coherently in terms of theme and overall message.