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The old adage “life is what happens to you when you are making other plans” was most true for me in the spring of 2020. Despite the overwhelming evidence of a growing global pandemic, I had a plan to intern with an Indian NGO in Kolkata where I would contribute to their mediation efforts between tribal communities Assam. Contributing to public efforts is of the utmost importance to me and my family. My parents, two prominent Toronto lawyers, and philanthropists, instilled in me the importance of giving back to underserved communities. However, the impossibility of international travel became increasingly evident, and the internship of my dreams was ultimately canceled. Giving up the opportunity left me feeling frustrated and unfulfilled, but I was determined to find a way to contribute to populations abroad, just like my parents. Even if it meant that I will not be able to leave home to do so.

Growing up, there was no shortage of people around me that were willing to put in the effort to help me achieve my goals. I believe that every individual deserves to have this, so I make a point to take every opportunity to pay it forward. Notably, my longest-standing contribution has been in volunteering with Toronto’s underprivileged children’s communities as a tutor for math and the languages. In many ways, I feel like the children do more for me than I do for them. The most fulfilling part of the work has been in seeing them gain the confidence to succeed, and see them reach their ambitions by following the plans we’ve arranged for them. Through volunteering, I have discovered that helping others, through even the simplest of gestures, takes absolutely nothing away from myself and should generally be encouraged. I look forward to being able to use my expertise in the law to help those in underserved communities, both locally and abroad.

Being able to empathize with those struggling academically comes from a place of experience. When I received my first set of grades at the University of Toronto, I quickly felt a large range of emotions. Frustrated with my own incompetence, devastated that I hadn't achieved my goal and, most jarring of all, terrified that maybe I do not have what it takes to become a lawyer. However, years of tutoring taught me that it is important to let yourself feel the emotions, pick yourself up, and try again. From this setback, I began to understand where my strengths and weaknesses were, and what I needed to do to improve for the future. I made sure to attend every class, I made a schedule and stuck to it, and I completely overhauled the way that I studied. By the time I received my grades back for my second semester, I was already much closer to reaching my target GPA. I not only improved my grades, but I also became a better tutor and a better person. It is my indisputable belief that growth happens in times of failure, and I am appreciative of how this experience shaped me into the person I am today.

Learning how to deal with failure has made me learn the importance of determination and grit. Following the devastating blow in the spring of 2020, I took it upon myself to continue to search for the perfect internship. In only a few short weeks, I was delighted to learn that an opportunity to intern remotely in the field of human rights was still possible through a local NGO. I started work immediately and, thus far, I have conducted legal research to facilitates access and platforms for marginalized groups in Venezuela to engage with human rights systems and hold their government accountable. This experience taught me that one does not need to be physically abroad to partake in meaningful work and I look forward to seeing where the rest of the summer will take me.

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