In this installment of the PreProBono Diaries, Fellows Jennifer and Michelle reflect on why they decided to become Fellows.
Jennifer Lee, Bio
My road to PreProBono was long and convoluted, just like a typical LSAT question.
When I was younger, I didn’t understand the value of education. I got into classes and programs for gifted children, but I didn't take my lessons seriously. In the earlier part of my life, that sufficed; it was enough for me to get a passing grade. I didn’t, as my mother urge, apply myself fully because I did not see a good reason to. I was already considered “smart”. But, as wise men and women - women like my mother - know, pride always comes before the fall.
It wasn’t until the end of high school that it became overwhelmingly obvious that “smart” wasn’t good enough. Applying my “good enough” philosophy to grades and taking the SAT’s is a decision I still regret. I wish I could have discovered the limits of my potential. What could I have been had I tried harder? I vowed from that moment on to put a purpose to both my life and my studies.
This is what led me to PreProBono's Fellowship program. I have always known that I wanted to leave the world a better place than I found it. I agree with PreProBono's founding values: to promote diversity in the profession of law and commitment in service to the public. But, before I could save the world with my law degree, I would first have to get into law school. That meant I would have to do well on the LSAT. It might seem to many that a 40-plus-hours-a-week summer schedule is overzealous, but I don’t want to entertain another “I could have been..." I already know that I will get into the best law school that I can, and take my first steps down the road of service.
Michelle Cafarelli, Bio
A description of PreProBono's weekend program was just one of many emails I received that uneventful April afternoon. I would sift through it all and find various pre-law opportunities, but never truly considered them as viable options. For some reason, they seemed out of my reach. I was too busy with class and with work. Nothing seemed compelling enough for me to break my comfortable and safe routine.
But, something was different about that email. Something inspired me to click the link. The optimist in me searched for the steps to apply to the program. The cynic in me looked for the catch. There wasn't one. After reading about PreProBono's goal of helping underrepresented minorities, my doubts began to disappear and I decided to give it a shot.
The weekend program was rigorous and exhaustive. Sixteen hours of intensive LSAT instruction made me realize how much I didn’t know, but it encouraged me to learn. Everyone was enthusiastic and friendly. By the second day I already felt that I'd develop a bond with some of my classmates and the instructors. Preparing for the LSAT didn't seem as hopeless, and the steps I’d need to take to become a lawyer cleared into focus. This clarification furthered when I found out about the Fellowship Program. Not only would I prepare for the LSAT, but I would also have the chance to cultivate my desire to enter public interest law. This was something I couldn't pass up, even if I had to quit my job.
After the application and interview process, I was one of ten lucky Fellows chosen from over a hundred. A month has passed now and I know I made the right choice. PreProBono doesn't just offer extensive LSAT prep, but also a network of support, made up of likeminded individuals. I am so impressed with each and every one of the Fellows, and I am glad we get to learn from each other every class. J.Y. Ping, the PreProBono staff, and the public interest speakers that come in every Saturday, remind me of what I'm working towards. Conquering the LSAT is extremely important, but it's just the first step in what I hope to be a long rewarding legal career. I feel lucky to have people as invested in my success as I am.