This is another example about how writing about something differentiated and sincere about you — not targeted to an anonymous file reader — works. This client punched above her numbers at multiple schools and received several handwritten notes about how exceptional her Personal Statement was.
Always remember, the target audience of the Personal Statement is you, not an admissions committee. With this advice alone you will do well. Enjoy! -Mike
Jazzy and the law
In the third grade I learned just how powerful lawyers can be. They were big, scary and took my cat away from me; and at the age of 8 years old, my cat, Jazzy, caused a $2 million lawsuit.
Jazzy was a gift to me from my parents and I loved him with all the fervor of a precocious new “parent.” He was mischievous, full of energy, and brought me so much joy. As an indoor/outdoor cat, Jazzy was given the opportunity to come and go as he pleased, but he never strayed too far. He enjoyed patrolling the fence along my property. My house is situated in a quintessential suburban neighborhood, surrounded by neighbors on each side. Our neighbor to the right was a seemingly normal woman who decided to wage war on my family, and in particular, on our cat.
The first time Jazzy went missing, we didn’t even realize he was gone. I remember the day very clearly; I sat on the floor playing with my baby sister when the phone rang. When my mom answered, I saw the confusion grow on her face as the person on the other end explained that Jazzy had been dropped off at the local animal shelter to be put down.
“We most certainly did not drop our cat off at the pound.” I jumped hearing my mom’s mention of Jazzy. When she hung up the phone we rushed to the aid of our beloved pet. Our next-door neighbor had trapped Jazzy with a can of tuna fish in a cage on her back lawn and delivered him to the local shelter.
Cats are highly intelligent but can be easily manipulated by food. My poor cat expected a treat, not a trap. Although the only reason Jazzy initially made his way onto our neighbor’s property was for the tuna, he now decided to make a habit of trying. Oblivious to the danger he faced, Jazzy thought it was a game to find the treat. We kept a careful eye on him and made sure to try and stop him from going onto her property.
Eventually, he won the game and wound up back at the pound – heading once again towards euthanasia. This time, however, that wasn’t the only action she took.
What started as a typical afternoon of a third grader; running around my house and playing with my cat and my little brother, ended unlike any before. The doorbell rang. “I’ll get it!” I yelled, and ran for it. As always, my mom beat me to it. My mom stood there shaking her head as she stared at the papers handed to her; she had been served. Bemused, she turned toward my kitten, “Jazzy, you are causing us some serious trouble.”
No one believed that this lawsuit would go far. My parents were served a summons for a civil law suit because of how terrorizing my 6 lb. cat could be. Apparently my neighbor had a ‘cat phobia’ that caused her so much anxiety, she was afraid to leave her own house in fear of being attacked. According to her, my kitten was ruining her life.
The lawsuit lasted almost a year. Multiple lawyers were involved and in the beginning even they were laughing at how frivolous the whole thing was. However, as the months wore on it was evident that our neighbor’s counsel would not give up; they were relentless.
I remember watching the people in fancy suits using big words that fascinated and terrified me. I didn’t understand what the lawyers were saying; I couldn’t comprehend any of the technical terms. To me, it was so obvious. Jazzy was a good cat; he would never hurt a fly. But, if you put tuna on your lawn, he will (like any other cat) try and find it.
My first exposure to the law ended with my cat being taken away from me. The lawyers came to an agreement, a “Stipulation of Settlement” stating my family will never own another cat while we live in that house and she lives in hers. I cried myself to sleep trying to understand how the lawyers could allow my neighbor to take my pet away from me.
Fifteen years later, I now work for a law firm filled with people in fancy suits, using big words. The words still fascinate me, but they no longer terrify. Indeed, I am empowered by them. As a Legal Assistant, I often find myself remembering how I felt towards lawyers at the time. I think back to that day the doorbell rang, where I stood as a wide-eyed 8-year-old girl. Since then, I have dreamed and set a goal of being able to have a voice to fight back. Although I’m not that little girl scared of losing her cat anymore, I still have that same dream, and I am on my way to achieving it.