I still remember the day.
After months of waiting, sleepless nights, and nervous anticipation, the letter had arrived.
The course of my life was about to change.
I started my undergraduate career intent on finishing a degree in social-work in four years. I wanted to save the world and do it quickly. During my second semester, in addition to other core classes, I registered for Algebra and Biology, both 5 credit-hour classes. Although I was cautioned about taking two 5 credit-hour classes in the same semester, I was confident I would excel (even without studying) because I had always gotten good grades with minimal effort. My confidence resulted in Ds in both classes, and notification that I was on academic probation. I was devastated.
I enrolled in school that summer determined to improve my GPA and get off probation. I received 2 As, but the damage was done. It would take several semesters to repair my GPA- semesters that I didn’t have because I had to apply to the School of Social-Work my sophomore year.
That fall I applied. I talked to faculty, wrote a personal statement, and gathered letters of recommendation. I was confident I would be accepted in spite of my GPA because I was destined to be a social-worker. Social-work was part of the master plan for my life; it was the reason I chose that particular university.
The day I received the letter I was attending a career conference. During the conference I was summoned to the phone for an urgent call. The voice on the other end said a letter from the School of Social-Work had arrived. With bated breath, I requested that it be opened and read aloud. It was a rejection letter.
I was crushed. I went to a friend’s house and cried profusely on his mom’s shoulder: I was inconsolable. As I cried, she said, “Camile, just maybe God has something better for you.” In an overly dramatic fashion, I declared I didn’t want to hear it and that my life was over. I could reapply the following year, but that would mean an extra year in college and I still might not be accepted into the School. I was not going to be a social-worker after all.
Eventually I wiped my tears, explored other majors, and pursued a degree in Criminal Justice. I loved the classes and made plans to become a probation officer. I graduated on time and immediately went to graduate school. I was in a hurry: after all life was short, and I was already 21.
In graduate school I took a class that inspired me to consider law school. I vividly recall standing in line to take the LSAT and overhearing students discuss the countless hours they spent studying for the exam and listing the schools they planned to attend. I felt so unprepared and insecure. I was convinced there was no way I could compete. After receiving my score, I applied to ten schools, and again, anxiously awaited the decisions. Fortunately, this time I received eight acceptance letters, one wait-list letter, and only one rejection letter. The following fall I enrolled in law school.
I have been a practicing attorney for almost 13 years. Through my academic experiences I learned several lessons that I will share with Max and Myles. I learned what we perceive to be failures are sometimes stepping stones to our greatest successes. I also learned the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity in spite of our insecurities and fears.
I assumed my future was doomed when I didn’t get into the School of Social Work. My plans were destroyed and I didn’t see how I could recover. I had no idea there were greater opportunities in my future-opportunities that were better suited to my talents and desires. I have worked with the same communities I wanted to work with as a social worker. I’ve been a prosecutor, an assistant attorney general, and an attorney for the Department of Children and Family services. I’ve done things that would have been impossible without a law degree-things I never dreamed of for myself.
There are many detours in life; we should embrace them and recognize they might be blessings in disguise. My life changed the day I received that rejection letter and I am grateful.
What disappointments have you experienced that were blessings in disguise?