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What is Important?


I sat down today to write an essay which undoubtedly would have followed the same format that you have seen a thousand times before, but after tonight I don't think that would really be appropriate. I am an accomplished student. As an Environmental Resources Engineering student I am trained to think and problem solve. Consistently I am placed in leadership positions by my peers, and I have a reputation for doing work well beyond what is expected. Since my return to school five years ago, my goal has been to be known and respected by my peers solely based on a reputation for producing excellent work. On July 28, 1999 my life changed, but not my goals. I got married to the kindest, most caring woman I've ever known. For the last two and a half years spending time with her has been the single most important extracurricular activity in my life, and today I was reminded of that.


After considering attending law school for several months, I made the final decision last August. Since then, it has been at the forefront of my mind. This semester in school has been a very demanding one. I have half a dozen major design projects going on, and have been designated the group leader in three of the four group projects. I like leading the charge in my group design projects. It is especially rewarding when my peers turn to me for leadership and help when I am not officially designated as the leader. It has a very significant side effect though: loss of time. Fortunately, budgeting time is one of my strengths. I am in class 25 hours a week, I operate a small business providing information to a power agency, I direct many efforts within my group design projects, I stay on top of my homework, attend some engineering club activities, and spend time with my wife. With 24 hours in a day, six lost to sleep, and countless others lost to running the household, aided by my wife, this is no small task. Lately it got a little harder.


When we were married, my wife left her friends and family in Canada and followed me down to California to an uncertain future. I had just transferred to a California state university. I had no job and only a few thousand dollars saved up from my job at the power agency. That job involved long term resource planning and policy.There was not much call for these skills in this rural area. We spent our first three weeks living in a tent. It was cold and miserable, but she stayed with me, toughing out the rain, fog, and camp stove dinners. We were ecstatic when I landed a temporary position writing a bid to the power agency for a demand-side management program. This meant we had an income and could move into an apartment. She put up with my long hours balancing school work with the new job. She let me drag her back to Canada when I received a summer job offer with a utilities company, helping to develop a new corporate policy to deal with the evolving regulatory environment they were facing. She put up with working lousy jobs, with lousy hours at gas stations and fast-food joints for another summer while I spent my days in the comfort of a climate controlled office. At the end of the summer I dragged her back to California, where she would continue to wait for her work permit so she could go to school and begin her life. It would be another year before that would materialize, during which I would drag her to and from Sacramento, subjecting her to more loneliness, waiting, and living with my parents for a summer.


Now, finally, after over two years of waiting she received her work authorization. She could get a Social Security Number, a job, and register for school. She was on the verge of beginning the path to building her own life, and stop living in my shadow. All she needed was more of my time to help her on her way. Given that my time was already 100% occupied, she had a hard time getting it. Tonight, for the first time, she told me how bad I was making her feel. Every time she needed help, I was busy and made a fuss about giving up the time. As my flannel shirt was dampened by her tears, I was reminded just how much this person means to me, how much she had gone through for me, and how much I had been ignoring her lately. I felt repugnant.


My, our, future is important to me. I already have an excellent education. I will receive a degree in a growing field, and have a phenomenal amount of pertinent experience for a person of 24. I want to go to law school. I especially want to attend your school. This feels right. I have seen the difference I could have the opportunity to make with a Juris Doctor. I am a student with the intellectual capacity, the real world experience, and the tenacity and courage to excel at your school. I am also aware of how precious and important life beyond school and work is. If this is what you are looking for, please give me the opportunity to perform. If it's not, don't. Either way, I come out a winner. I have my wife, and I have a future. I want my legal education to make a bigger difference than I can as an engineer, but with a strong family to draw upon I cannot help but live a successful life.

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