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Word Count: 510
I am in no particular order female American Muslim and Sri Lankan having immigrated to the United States from Sri Lanka in 2000 to escape the 25-year civil war It became incongruous to be a Muslim and American at the same time particularly after the 911 terrorists attack There were several hurdles my family and me had to overcome from ethnic and religious discrimination to living in poverty half of my life as a newly arrived immigrant in the United States However these unfortunate circumstances strengthened my desire to pursue an education and to study law Living in Riverside helped me develop a consciousness for sociopolitical challenges faced by indigents and communities of color who endured a set of obstacles that were not far unlike those faced by my family This consciousness pioneered my desire to serve individuals in need and humanity at large During my familys first four years in the United States we lived on food stamps and low-income housing assistance My mother worked as a babysitter and housekeeper while my father worked the nightshift at a local 7-Eleven On weekends my brother and I collected empty plastic bottles and aluminum cans from our apartment complex to earn extra money from recycling Our hearts filled with excitement when we found free furniture and clothes left outside neighboring houses Then in 2006 when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer I took on multiple jobs and worked full-time in order to provide for my family These experiences helped shed my insecurities as an immigrant and provided a foundation to become an agent of change Although my experiences outside of the classroom sparked my desire to study law applying for college was tiresome given all the external pressures I faced Regardless I still realized gaining an education was the first big step towards success While balancing a full-time job academics and extracurricular activities at UC Irvine I became a mentor through the International Peer Group
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