I do not know if others do this, but when something good happens to me, or in this case, when I am about to take a major leap on something that could possibly commence the next chapter of my life, I tend to look back and reflect on what brought me here. Illustrating a lifetime of blessings, obstacles, and personal experiences within a two-to-three-page personal statement is a strenuous process, but I will do the best I can in showing you how these things inaugurated my decision to apply for law school.
Rather than the what that brought me here, I would like you to first meet the most important factor of my life, the who. My mother, JoAnn Cruz, is the greatest blessing that I have ever received, and I can truly say that God gave me an angel-on-earth as a mother. Everything good that I have inside of me, I have from her. Being raised in Amarillo, Texas, by a single parent and cervical cancer survivor (along with a close run-in with breast cancer), the odds were completely stacked against us. Even when things went completely south, it was a paramount goal of hers to show me that we were never alone. She once told me something that let me realize what life is really about, “We will always have our faith, we will always have our family, and we will always have the ability to follow our dreams… the three F’s.” I do not think she knows what she did, but she is the best thing that ever happened to me and my main catalyst and influence for applying to law school. Not once did she think about herself, and it is because of her altruistic and philanthropic nature that I want to attend St. Mary’s University School of Law. Her commitment and confidence to helping others gave me hope, and I believe it is my responsibility to follow this trajectory and advocate for the common good using law as my platform to help and inspire. If I am going to write about the lighter parts of my life, then it is only fair to write about how the darker elements made me a stronger person.
In a traditional Hispanic family, the male figure, the father, takes on the role as the provider. For me, it was different. I did not grow up in the common patriarchal household, rather, I was raised in a matriarchal home in which my mother took on every role that was imperative to helping me grow. From a young age, I knew it was my responsibility to become the man of the house and be able to provide not only for myself, but for both of us when the time came. Simply put, I needed to be strong for her, just as she was strong for me. Ever since then, I was on a mission, and because I had to be strong not just for myself, but for others as well, I was able to gain the qualities of dedication, resilience, and maturity. I tend to overthink many things, but I learned to look realistically at the conundrums of life, without getting particularly lost in them. Things could have been a lot worse and I thank God every day for that.
Growing up in a Hispanic family single-parent household definitely had its ups and downs, but I try to stay clear of counting the latter as “downs” simply because those experiences made me the person I am today. One thing it taught me, was how to let go. Officially changing my last name from Perez to my mother’s maiden name Cruz was a difficult process, but it allowed me to let go of some of my past, focus on the present, and prepare for the future (hopefully in law at St. Mary’s! GO RATTLERS!). Overcoming the stereotypical expectations of low educational and low social achievement empowered me, allowed me to find my intrinsic identity, and discover what I truly believe in. Those same values converge with the ideals that I have learned from attending meetings since I was a little kid for the League of United Latin American Citizens (L.U.L.A.C). I have been blessed to receive four LULAC National Scholarships, and part of my interest in taking part in the process of law definitely stems from the values that I have learned from LULAC.
Fueled by faith and passion and in accordance with my attendance at St. Mary’s University, I have been able to experience work and education not just as occupations, but as part of a bigger process in finding who I am and the reason God put me on Earth. My experience attending St. Mary’s University brought me closer to my Catholic faith and supplied me with the tools of reason to lead and excel in the academic and professional environment of law school. As of right now, during the halfway point of my senior year, my focus is centered on policy analysis and writing policy briefs. This enables me to further research, write, and advocate for the beliefs that resonate with my moral compass and the values I have obtained from my undergraduate experience at St. Mary’s University. As stated earlier, my motivation to go to law school is my mother, what she went through, and what she did for me. I believe that the tools I would acquire working for a law degree would supply me with the methodological knowledge to initiate more government policies that would improve the well-being of single parent families. The decision to apply for law school did not hit me like lightning… it is rooted in my personal experiences of faith and family and it is the logical next step in following my dreams.