Purposefully Pretty Inc.

Alicia John

I wanted to be a lawyer since the age of 12; I remembered in junior high school we had a debate about the death penalty. After winning, I knew the courtroom was where I belonged. What I didn’t know was, what a tough journey it would be.

 I was raised in a two-bedroom apartment occupied by 9 individuals, including myself. Privacy was virtually non-existent. As a result, I spent most of my time in the library or after hours at school so I could get my schoolwork completed.  I realized at a very young age I was different from my siblings.  I was on a quest for knowledge and moving my family out of Brooklyn, while they were learning how to survive the borough’s mean streets.  My siblings often teased and taunted me because I was always reading or writing in my journal.  They would tell me I sounded too proper and I belonged to the wrong family.  I was ostracized and spent a lot of time alone as a child because of my different views and values. As teenagers, my siblings were engaged in delinquent activities and neglected their obligations in school.  Their deviant behavior led to a road of self-destruction, which included dropping out of high school.  Their lack of dedication toward school only fueled me to be even more focused on succeeding in order to set an example for my younger brothers.

Coming from a family of nine, it was instilled in me that education was the only outlet to a successful future and escape from a tough urban neighborhood.  My parents migrated to the United States from Guyana in order to provide their children with a world of opportunity, something they did not have back in Guyana.  My Guyanese roots have taught me that hard-work, self-motivation, and determination are the key elements to succeeding in life. I have always carried these values with me and brought them to everything I did.  In my culture, I have also realized that many of the women in my family are dependent on their husbands.  For example, my mother was in the beginning of her career, when she gave it up to become a stay-at-home mother.  I watched as my mother and many other women in my family gave up their dreams for their families and husbands.  My mother and aunts have always encouraged me to be better than they were and fulfill my dreams. My family’s history is one of the reasons I’m pursuing my legal career.  I am going after my dreams because many women in my family were not able to achieve theirs.

While in college, I discovered my main reason for wanting to go to law school, to help juveniles. I became involved in several community service projects, including community rebuilding and youth mentorship. I wanted to promote the importance of education amongst juveniles and prevent them from the self-destruction that my siblings faced. While working at the Achieving Independence Center (a non-profit center that provided assistance to children in foster care), I was introduced to a whole world of individuals who had been forgotten most of their lives. As a result, I created workshops geared towards rebuilding/loving oneself.  As a mentor, I reminded my students that education is the foundation for success.  My experience at the center made me realize that I wanted to study public interest law to become a child advocate and help create policies/laws that would provide children in need with proper care and educational assistance; as well as rehabilitation programs that would deter crime.

As a child, I wanted to become a lawyer because I had a strong passion for helping others. But I later discovered that my motivation for pursuing a legal career was to help bring awareness to juveniles and the hardships they faced. My journey to law school was anything but easy. You see, I did not come from a family of lawyers and doctors. As such, I had no one to really lean on or talk to about the process. My parents did not quite understand why I was stressing out about taking the LSAT or why I spent so much time studying. I did not have the financial capability to hire a tutor or attend a LSAT prep course. My preparation for the exam was all self taught and using resources I found online. My first time taking the LSAT did not go so well, my score was way below average and I felt it was not high enough to get me into law school.  Once I received my score, I remembered what my brother told me and started to believe it to be true. My spirits were shot, my fight was gone, I figured I could just keep my current job and hope for a promotion. Although, I received a very low LSAT score, I still decided to apply to a few schools in hopes that they looked at my overall portfolio and not just my LSAT score.  But no school did, I received four rejection letters. At that point I figured I should just call it quits.  But something in me would not let me quit the fight! After a month of feeling discouraged I got back on my feet, I reached out to family members, friends and co-workers and asked if they wanted to donate money towards getting a tutor. I was able to raise money for two sessions with a tutor. It was not much, but it was better than nothing.

The next time I took the LSAT, I felt better prepared. The tutor was able to teach me tricks and certain skills that I did not know before. With the tutors help and my non-stop studying, my LSAT score went up 10 points. I was so happy, although, it was not the score I desired, it was a comfortable score to get me into a law school. I applied to a total of five schools and got accepted to two and wait-listed at two.

I decided to attend North Carolina Central University School of Law because of its historical context and all the great reviews I heard from alumnus.  After two years into law school, I’m happy to say I made the right decision.