Statistically, siblings share the longest lasting relationships one will experience in a lifetime. Several decades of research on siblings has provided important information about the effects of being a brother or sister of an individual with a disability. Generally, sibs across the lifespan regard their experiences positively, though some fail to find positive benefits in their experiences. Still, it seems more often we see siblings expressing affection and great loyalty toward their brothers and sisters. From an early age, we see high levels of empathy and altruism because of the responsibilities and rewards of their front seat view. On the whole, sibling appear to be as well adjusted and successful as individual who have typically developing brothers and sisters.
Jace King began working as a peer mentor in autism when he was four years old and his autistic brother Taylor was ten. Jace helped kids in social skills groups, summer camps and other community programs that served kids with autism and other disabilities. At eighteen when he applied to college, he had amassed just over 2,600 hours of community service over fourteen years. Taylor has impacted Jace’s life and choices about his future in many positive ways, including his decision to share some of his experiences in his personal essay for law school admission.
Personal Essay for Admission to Law School
By Jace King
The earliest memories I can recall of my dad are him leaving early mornings dressed in a suit and a tie. I came to learn he was generally heading to court, representing individuals who were in desperate need of help. Over my lifetime, he expressed the greatest satisfaction when he was successful in doing so. Observing his efforts cultivated my own interest in the profession, where I witnessed his work to be an effective alternative to sitting idly by while inequities or abuses go without redress.
Throughout my adolescence, my many varied interests drew my focus in directions other than attending law school. I fell in love with music, art, and film; even appearing in and co-producing a couple of documentary films. I became fascinated with science fiction and dreamed of inventing a teleportation device. Despite that small setback in my life’s goals, I still yearned to do something tangible that would positively influence and help to bring balance to lives where the mere accident of birth did not provide certain individuals with equal opportunities.
Since I was very young, I was acutely affected by the struggles and pains facing others. Happily, both of my parents taught me the importance of being kind to others. Growing up with my brother Taylor, six years my elder, provided its own life lesson. Taylor did not make friends the same way I did. At three years old, I had a larger vocabulary and spoke more fluidly; and as a five-foot tall ten year-old, for reasons I did not yet understand, Taylor could not be trusted to be alone with me. One day, these differences were explained to me; Taylor had “autism.”
Taylor’s autism prompted my family into social activism. My mom took it upon herself to promote the development of my brother’s lagging social skills. She created one of the first nonprofit organizations which dealt with autism, providing resources and support for education, as well as providing a source of advocacy for parents and their children.
At four years old, I began to attend the organization’s events and to learn methods of communication with the disabled children and their families. Within the next couple of years, I began to work in a quasi-counselor role in summer camps for the children in the “special needs” programs.
At seven, I became a full-fledged volunteer, leading campers in activities such as music and story-time, outdoor games, and trips to the library or grocery store. We would go anywhere the attendees could learn and practice important social skills they, perhaps, would never learn. My involvement with these disabled children taught me the greater lesson that people just want to be talked to and treated like everyone else, no matter their capabilities or perceived limitations.
The 2008 election, along with a concurrent California proposition regarding the legality of same-sex marriages, initially drew me to political issues. Not long after, I became interested in climate change and related geopolitical issues. I sought out organizations where I could volunteer my time and energy. When I started college, I continued to devote my attention to these various causes.
I soon joined the California Public Interest Research Group, “CalPIRG,” working on various campaigns focused on voter turnout, banning of plastic bags, and petitioning to overturn the decision in Citizens United which leverages a corporation’s assets and desires over those of the people. In my sophomore year, I was co-president on the “City Go Solar” campaign which focused on increasing incentives for installing solar panels in Santa Barbara. That summer, I continued my work canvassing door to door to educate the voters on the environmental issues of “fracking.”
As I became more involved in efforts relating to social justice, I realized I needed to find the most effective vehicle to allow me to continue working on causes which I find important. Like my father before me, as a lawyer, I will have the tools to best work to promote these causes. As an attorney, I will be in a position to make substantial contributions to the pursuit of positive change and justice, working to represent the interests of people and causes who would not otherwise have their voices heard or anyone to make a stand for their interests.
Today, with an undergraduate degree from University of California Santa Barbara, at 22 years old, Jace has been accepted to ten top law schools in the country. Jace’s biggest dilemma? What school he will choose to attend and the specific area of law he might pursue. We think his personal essay was a tremendous boon to his acceptance by some of the finest schools in the country. Good on you, Jace!
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