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Legal Issues

Lessons from the Past for a better Future

Originally from Nepal, I moved with my family and grandparents to the U.S. at the young age of only 13. Like my sisters, I also moved to a boarding house at the age of 3 and did well in academics because you study at least 6 hours every day at boarding houses. When I moved to the U.S., it was also the first time in 11 years that I had moved back home to live with my family.  As a result, I finally regained the freedom to do as I wished which I didn’t have at the boarding house. The distractions many teenagers face also negatively affected my academic performance and at one time I was almost convinced that high school will be the end of my academic career. I moved to Boston soon after finishing high school but the realities of the real world soon became apparent and I enrolled in the Associate Program in Criminal Justice at Montgomery College. I did not only do well in academics but also actively participated in co-curricular activities including founding the Asian Club and becoming its first President. I graduated from Montgomery College with 3.1 GPA and transferred to University of Maryland, University College.

At UMUC, I overestimated my ability to lead an active social and co-curricular life while maintaining good grades and as a result my academic performance suffered. During this time, my grandmother became terminally ill and I went to Nepal to be with her for about a month. The time spent with her made me realized that my parents had a very difficult life and I have had such a comfortable life yet I have done nothing but wasted the opportunities life has given me. My grandmother’s death left an everlasting impact on me and made me determined to turn around my life. In addition to the undergraduate major in Criminal Justice, I also added Sociology Minor.

Fortunately, my social and co-curricular experiences have helped me develop several important soft skills including leadership, team work, and communication. In addition, I also possess over four years of experience in various capacities such as a customer service representative, administrative assistant, sales associate, college counselor, and trade show representative. These work experiences have only helped me further improve my leadership, communication, and people skills. Similarly, my social interactions have helped expand my thinking horizon and have also made me better aware of my own biases and stereotypes. My friends often tell me I am an excellent communicator because I can put myself in others’ shoes. They also tell me that my willingness to listen to others help me put others at ease and build credibility.

My professional goal is to have a long term career in the juvenile criminal justice system. My decision to pursue this line of career has been influenced by several factors. First of all, interaction with people from diverse ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds has helped me improve my objective reasoning skills and has also increased my sensitivity to social issues. This is why I want to pursue a career where I cannot only utilize my true potential but can also make a positive difference in the society.

I only need to look at my own life to realize that it is not uncommon to get off the right path as a young person in the absence of a proper guidance. Young people do not have the experience and/or maturity to fully understand the long term consequences of their irresponsible behavior. I was lucky I had people to guide me but not every young person in America has the same luxury. In addition, I also believe that the current juvenile criminal justice system is outdated and is in need of a serious overhaul and I want to be part of the solution to ensure that more and more young people have the opportunity to become productive members of the society.

I realize my GPA declined after moving to UMUC and I should have been more responsible but there is nothing I can do to change my past. But I can at least learn from my past to build a better future which is why I have chosen a career in which I can help reduce the achievement gap among children from various economic and social backgrounds. I have done a comprehensive research on the issues facing juvenile criminals and believe that certain punitive measures only worsen the situation by further alienating the juvenile population from the society. A better approach should be to mentor them and provide them opportunities to go to school or learn skills that can help them become independent. Our current juvenile criminal justice system can be significantly improved by focusing more on incentives to escape punishment rather than threat of punishment.

I am attracted to the University of Maryland Law School because the college will not only allow me to study under some of the finest law school professors in the country but will also allow me to interact with smart students who come from a wide range of economic, social, and professional backgrounds. In addition, the college also has a strong professional network which allows students to interact with leading legal experts. I believe I will bring unique perspectives into the program due to my unique background and life experiences.