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

I remember exactly where I was—standing in my grandmother’s front room watching a debate on TV—when my goal to practice law began to form. I don’t remember the topic of the debate, but I do remember the fiery tone of the political rhetoric and the feeling of annoyance I had as I listened. At nineteen, I first found myself fascinated by political issues. I soon found myself reading the writings of Hamilton, Washington, Adams, Madison, Jay, and other Founders.

That summer I regularly spent twelve hours a day studying, often starting late in the evening and ending around 7:30 AM the next day. I always enjoyed learning, but no topic had completely enthralled me before. By the end of the year, I’d leaped into politics and begun campaigning for a presidential candidate.

Seven years later, I interned at the Refugee Justice League of Utah; a non-partisan NPO that defends the constitutional rights of refugees. One of our clients was an elementary-age girl whose family had fled Iraq. She’d been wearing her hijab at school, but a boy there had pulled it off several times. The incidents were reported and the boy had been asked to stop. The boy began hitting her, but administration did not intervene sufficient enough to stop the bullying. Finally, the family came to the Justice League for help.

Of the sixteen largest Utah school districts, only three had protocols protecting religious wear. I drafted a model policy that was later recommended statewide to Utah school districts. We also arranged to have the girl transferred to another school.

The feeling that I had as I dug deeper into case law, as I discussed my findings with the attorneys, and as I saw the look on our client’s face when she was finally excited to go back to school; that feeling is part of the reason I want to be an attorney. I want a career I can throw myself into with all the focus and intensity and exuberance I had as a nineteen year old college student learning about the founding laws of my nation.

Daniel from Utah
University of Utah