Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

In September of 2018, I took a month-long boxing trip to Cuba. I wanted to visit a country that is geographically close to the United States but feels so distant due to its political history. The only information I knew about Cuba was what my grandmother told me: she escaped a brutal regime in the 1960s and came to the United States. I wanted to learn more about her native land and the Cuban culture.
Traveling to Cuba was a life-changing experience that confirmed my decision to attend law school. I witnessed the many unscrupulous ways a government can use laws to manipulate and control the masses. I have a greater appreciation of democracy and realized the importance of citizen participation in the political process.
My grandmother suffered a seizure after my first week in Cuba. My mother decided not to tell me; she wanted me to experience the country to the fullest. I traveled throughout Havana; I spoke in my grandmother’s native language and listened to street performers play her favorite songs. My grandmother’s last wish was to visit her home country before she passed away. After a hard fought battle with Alzheimer's, two strokes, and a seizure, she passed away a few weeks after my arrival back to the United States.
My grandmother lived a beautiful life in the United States despite the adversity she faced. She was a pioneer for my family. Her life paved the way for me to challenge myself academically in a country filled with opportunity. I will make sure her sacrifices were not in vain and use those experiences to become a fierce advocate and attorney for others!

Raul from Florida
St. John's University School of Law