By: Alicia John
“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go life is a barren field covered in snow.” Hughes, Langston. Dreams (1926). Since age 12, I have always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. ”A lawyer? You’ll never be a lawyer – it’s not in your DNA,” my brother told me years ago. His words were detrimental to me as a young child, but I heard them loud and clear. From that day on, I wanted to show him that my passion for law and helping others were unstoppable. Since reciting Dreams, by Langston Hughes, I knew the only way to achieve my dream of becoming a lawyer was to hold fast to my beliefs and never give up on the things I want.
Coming from a family of nine, it was instilled in me that education was the only outlet to a successful future and escape from a tough urban neighborhood. My parents migrated to the United States from Guyana in order to provide their children with a world of opportunity, something they did not have back in Guyana. My Guyanese roots have taught me that hard-work, self-motivation, and determination are the key elements to succeeding in life. I have always carried these values with me and brought them to everything I did. In my culture, I have also realized that many of the women in my family are dependent on their husbands. For example, my mother was in the beginning of her career, when she gave it up to become a stay-at-home mother. I watched as my mother and many other women in my family gave up their dreams for their families and husbands. My mother and aunts have always encouraged me to be better than they were and fulfill my dreams. My family’s history is one of the reasons I’m pursuing my legal career. I am going after my dreams because many women in my family were not able to achieve theirs.
My journey to law school was anything but easy. You see, I did not come from a family of lawyers and doctors. As such, I had no one to really lean on or talk to about the process. My parents did not quite understand why I was stressing out about taking the LSAT or why I spent so much time studying. I did not have the financial capability to hire a tutor or attend a LSAT prep course. My preparation for the exam was all self taught and using resources I found online. My first time taking the LSAT did not go so well, my score was way below average and I felt it was not high enough to get me into law school. Once I received my score, I remembered what my brother told me and started to believe it to be true. My spirits were shot, my fight was gone, I figured I could just keep my current job and hope for a promotion. Although, I received a very low LSAT score, I still decided to apply to a few schools in hopes that they looked at my overall portfolio and not just my LSAT score. But no school did, I received four rejection letters. At that point I figured I should just call it quits. But something in me would not let me quit the fight! After a month of feeling discouraged I got back on my feet, I reached out to family members, friends and co-workers and asked if they wanted to donate money towards getting a tutor. I was able to raise money for two sessions with a tutor. It was not much, but it was better than nothing.
The next time I took the LSAT, I felt better prepared. The tutor was able to teach me tricks and certain skills that I did not know before. With the tutors help and my non-stop studying, my LSAT score went up 10 points. I was so happy, although, it was not the score I desired, it was a comfortable score to get me into a law school. I applied to a total of five schools and got accepted to two and wait-listed at two.
I decided to attend North Carolina Central University School of Law because of its historical context and all the great reviews I heard from alumnus. A year and a half into law school, I’m happy to say I made the right decision. I moved to North Carolina all by myself and did not know what to expect, but the faculty and students at Central were very welcoming and made my law school experience a little less stressful. Although, my journey to Central was nothing short of easy, I held fast to my dreams along the way and they were able to guide me through to this point.