Monday, April 26, 2010

Looking back before moving forward

I have been a sentimental schlep for the last week. Although I still have a final and a paper to complete sometime within the next two weeks, law school is pretty much over. It has been a fast and wild ride, but I am leaving with the same nervous excitement that I came in with. While going through my law school documents on my computer (read: procrastinating studying for my final) I came across my admissions essay:

Two lines. I turned my head in an attempt to make them disappear, but when I looked again the lines were undeniably bold and dark pink. I pressed my head against the cool tiles of the bathroom wall, but it brought no relief to my fevered dread. There was no mistaking it. I was 17 and pregnant. Two weeks after my high school graduation, I welcomed my beautiful daughter into the world. As I held her in my arms and looked into her face, a knot within me loosened. With that one look, my fears and uncertainness washed away. I would go on. I would succeed. I would never quit. And I would do it all for us.

I paid for my first two years of college by joining the newspaper staff. On deadline days you could find me in the student publication lab. My daughter was always there with me, napping in a portable playpen or pounding away on an unplugged keyboard. In those first two years of balancing motherhood and college, I was a presidential scholar, Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society member, and editor of a multiple award-winning newspaper. It was never something I thought much about then, simply something I knew I had to do. I chose journalism because it was an area in which I was naturally skilled. While I did enjoy it, as I progressed in my schooling I found that it lacked the passion and purpose I was looking for. I was uncertain of how to change this when the answer came to me from an unlikely source. I started participating in a Teen Moms Program run by a local social service agency. These women were pillars of strength, fighting for survival for themselves and their children, but they were fighting alone. They had been abandoned by their babies' fathers and lacked the financial capabilities to move forward in many aspects. I decided then that I would be that person in their corner. I would join in the fight that they cannot do alone. The first step in that battle was to continue my education, a feat that could not be done where I was located. I had to move away from my comfort zone, the only place I had lived in all of my 20 years. I had no choice but to close my eyes and jump.

Moving to Manhattan, KS turned out to be a wonderful change for myself, my husband and my daughter. Before long we were very active members of the community. We were regulars at the local farmer's market. I shared brownies and ice cream with residents of the nursing home while my daughter performed for them, singing and turning somersaults. We helped to plan neighborhood block parties. We attended football games, plays and community events. It was in Manhattan that my daughter met the love of her life in the form of a grey, fuzzy mascot named Willie the Wildcat. And it was in Manhattan that I finally found my niche; it was there that I took my first steps toward becoming a social worker.

The social work program at Kansas State University kindled my desire to help the young mothers and their children. It ignited in me a drive to help not only these young mothers, but all of thosewho are unable to help themselves. Through this program I learned many skills that will not only help me as a social worker, but as a lawyer as well. I learned that it was no longer suitable to say just what I thought, but to be able to explain why. I learned that asking good questions is a carefully mastered art form. I learned in order to see change, it takes more than wanting; it takes doing. I learned that I am my greatest tool. In the end I learned that the only limits to what I can accomplish are ones I impose upon myself.

It is no miracle I am where I am today. It is instead because of my miracle, my skinned-knee, dirty-faced, pony-tailed miracle, that I continue to strive for more.

I have been thinking a lot about the person who wrote this and the person who will be stepping out in the world with a J.D. displayed proudly behind her name. While I am going in a new direction, my desires and values, at their core, remain the same. I, in no way, could have imagined the path my life would take when I first toyed with the idea of becoming an attorney. Even more so, I could never have imagined that this would be my life on that afternoon in Hays while I sat on the floor of the girls bathroom at Justin's dorm and I saw those two, pink lines.

Perhaps thats a good thing....because while my imagination is good, it could have never dreamed up something this good!


  1. i cried..... at work. thanks a lot :)

  2. Awesome blog Sarah. You rock my socks off.

  3. Rileigh must be so dang proud of you. Me too.