Personal Statement Example - Law School
by Ben Frederick MD
on June 21, 2013
I came across this personal statement on Madhath Hussain's Blog.@madmath122 It tells the story of her decision to both wear and to stop wearing the Hijab (a head covering worn by Muslim women). It is a beautiful example of how to make a personal statement, truely personal.
The picture on the left is from 2006.
The picture on the right is from 2012.
Why tell this story for your law school application?
"The law school admissions process typically does not require interviews. Most decisions are made based on the bulk of information sent to the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), including LSAT score, GPA, personal statement, letters of recommendation, etc.
Most law schools provide similar prompts with limitations varying between 2 and 3 pages... In all honesty, my understanding of the schools' expectations was vague. My primary goal was to write about something unique that would stand out to admissions officers out of hundreds of similar applications. I chose an event that changed my life and expanded on how it motivated my desire to attend law school and pursue the career path of an attorney."
By Madhath Hussain
Muslim American: Two polarized worlds that converged to produce my identity today. Because of my religious background and my “Americanized” lifestyle, I have faced a multitude of challenges that I would have otherwise failed to experience. My parents raised their children strictly following Islamic teachings. Adhering to prayer five times a day, fasting, and regularly attending Friday prayer and Sunday school were mandatory activities in our household, and later when I came of age, the hijab. The literal meaning of hijab is “covering,” and the Quran mandates that all women cover themselves in order to maintain a semblance of modesty. After moving from the state of Texas to the suburbs of Detroit, my environment changed drastically. Now I was surrounded by female figures in loose, flowing garments and heads covered in brightly colored cotton and silks. They spoke in gentle tones and, whether in anger or excitement, scarcely raised their voices. This was a startling change to the sleeveless tops, sun-drenched skin, and extroversive nature common to my community in southern Texas.
Exposure to cousins and aunts who wore the hijab, enrollment in a private Islamic school, and finally, continuous pressure from family compelled me to quietly don the head covering. Soon, I became critical of Muslim women walking about with their free-flowing hair. I became less understanding and more cynical of these shameless individuals. I shrouded myself not only physically, but also mentally from the world of rational thought. Cloaked in monolithic views fostered by years of dedication to Islamic studies and a sheltered lifestyle, I left the exclusivity of a private school and entered a public high school.
Public school welcomed me with shorts, tank tops and cleavage, and I welcomed it with long, loose garments common to the Middle East. I could not fathom why women felt the need to objectify their bodies, nor could I imagine myself doing the same. However, my narrow perspective changed as I discovered new friendships among the people I once chastised. My views changed, and as a result, my character changed as well. I joined organizations, played sports, and forged new relationships among my peers. I took initiative to plan fundraisers, outreach projects, and philanthropy events. And finally, I took off my hijab.
At this point, I discovered a sense of empowerment and confidence. I felt a new identity taking root. I found myself developing a new perspective, becoming more receptive to new thoughts and ideas, and considerably more vocal about my views, especially regarding freedom and human rights. In a sense, I began a passive rebellion against a family that raised me with conservative, and somewhat prejudiced Islamic values. I dressed and expressed my opinions like a westerner but continued to preserve my religion as a high priority. I completed my daily prayers, fasted during the month of Ramadan, and recited from the Quran as often as I could. However, my family’s rejection was uncompromising. I became an outcast among my own blood. Whisperings about my “naked head” and my Americanized attitude became routine among my relatives, and I found comfort in no one but myself. My parents withdrew my tuition, demanding that I complete a religious pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia before I return to college. I acquiesced, if only to obtain my degree and attain independence through academic achievement.
I pushed on, carving my character from the materials supplied by life. My interest in my own freedoms and rights snowballed into a passion for human rights. Years passed before I finally understood that in spite of the countless people—family, friends, and strangers—who criticize my actions and character, my identity would always remain my own. The road taken was metamorphic. I transformed from a sheltered and obstinate young girl to an eclectic and unprejudiced young woman. I stumbled, suffered scrapes and bruises, but picked myself up each time with more confidence and surefootedness than the last. My desire to establish justice is not simply a fragile interest, but a profound desire permanently infused into my identity.