I believe in second chances and that we should strive every day to give them to others

Rebecca - Evanston, Illinois
Entered on March 13, 2009

When I was just a few days old, my mother abandoned me on the doorstep of an orphanage without a single scrap of information about myself, herself or my father. So, just a few short days into my life, I was all alone in the world. I was adopted a few months later by a family that the adoption agency loved. My parents were young and ambitious (my father was the town’s doctor and my mother a nurse), and they displayed strong family values. By the grace of God, fate, pure luck, I was given a second chance at life.

We were a picturesque family in a leafy suburb. Under the surface, though, domestic violence and instability defined my childhood. Dad’s explosive temper spared no one, not even my baby brother. Mom threw accusations about “affairs with nurses” and even being “raped by her husband” around like darts. I felt that, having escaped the orphanage, I didn’t deserve a better life and felt ungrateful even wanting one. My past filled me with guilt, shame, and loss, which all collapsed on me in college. I found that I couldn’t get out of bed for days then weeks at a time. I failed classes, which made even me more ashamed of myself. After a painful and blurry 6 months, I reached out to my doctor for help and was prescribed a powerful anti-depressant which eradicated the debilitating depression. Through the powers of modern medicine, God, or pure luck, I was given another second chance.

When I decided that I wanted to apply to business school, I was terrified that the admissions committees would laugh my application out of the room. I still set my sights high, only applying to three of the top five business schools and was shocked when I was granted interviews with all three. While I was waitlisted at HBS, I was granted admission to Kellogg and accepted my place in the class of 2008 unhesitatingly. Yet again, through the help of friends, the wisdom of admissions committees, the grace of God, and fate I received yet another second chance to pursue my dreams.

Just before I graduated from Kellogg, my boyfriend almost died from a systemic staph infection. His brush with death was heart wrenching but the second chance that followed convinced me to turn down jobs that were not nearby. I spent the summer doing pro-bono work for an NGO and when I resumed the job search in the fall of 2008, the economy was souring, eventually plummeting into an abyss-like recession. I haven’t been able to find work, even in the field in which I worked for 7 years before business school. Being $250K in student loans debt with no job is downright demoralizing, but I stay grounded by remembering all of the ways I have been lucky in my life. I remember that all of my successes have been the culmination of second chances and have realized that it is my turn to give second chances to others. As such, I reached out to a local homeless shelter to help 25 residents with resume and job skills. In the past, when I have hit rock bottom, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the grace of God, fate, luck, friends, and kindness of strangers. This time, I’ve decided to take my rock bottom and give second chances to others.