Dartmouth Student Interview w/ Aleemah Williams | Part 2: Let your Personality Always Shine Through
Aleemah Williams ‘24 was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina and graduated from North Carolina Cyber Academy. At Dartmouth, Aleemah is currently pursuing a modified major of Government (with a heavy emphasis on International Relations and Comparative Politics) and Physics while minoring in International Studies (and potentially Public Policy).
During her high school career, Aleemah has held several internships with Superior court judges, private attorneys and state representatives. Aleemah is currently on Dartmouth’s varsity women’s rugby team where she is both a player and a member of the of the leadership team and participates in multiple organizations on campus such as Al-Nur, Dartmouth Women in Law and Politics, serves as member on the DP2 Inclusive Excellence Council, and has participated in the Leadership Lab at Dartmouth. After graduation, Aleemah plans to attend law school and become a practicing international attorney.
Key points Aleemah shares:
"It [recommendations] doesn't even just have to be teachers, just individuals who can actually speak to your personality and who you are and what you stand for."
"I would just suggest taking some time to reflect upon your four years or three years or throughout in high school and figure out what you want the admissions team to know about you."
"So I would definitely suggest just making sure that you at least have your extracurricular activities done in advance and your essays done at least two weeks in advance. "
Q: The application essays are increasingly becoming important in college applications to differentiate a student from the rest of the applicants. How do you think you made yourself stand out through your essay(s)?
A: I would definitely say the topic and the formatting.
But I will say most individuals struggle when it comes to either getting the recommendation letters or actually writing their own essays.
I think it's just really varied, it helps to put some elements of the school like maybe their grades or talking about one of their specific buildings that you'd love to study at, or one of their interesting programs, you know, just tying that in, showing that you're really serious about it, but not tying it in a way where you just randomly looked up something.
You've learned about a program or like an international studies library that they have, or opportunities and showing in a way that not only do you fit, but you can contribute, and it's definitely scary writing an essay because that's your application materials are the only things that you're providing the admissions office with, and that's how they'll get to know you. So you never know what they'll think, you’ll never know what they're looking for. You just have to put everything forward and hope for the best.
Q: When did you begin the college application process?
A: Okay, I will say I'm a procrastinator, so I probably got most of the applications done on the day of or the day before the deadline.
Here's the thing, I didn't finish the actual full application until like a week, maybe a week or a day before the deadline only because I focus so much on my essays and which extracurricular activities I wanted to include. So that's what I spent most of my time focusing on, and that took maybe two months, I want to say. I would ask some of my college professors to look over it. I have this one professor, who went to Columbia, and we were just talking. He gave me advice about how to format my application, what to do, and how to navigate the Ivy Leagues. So I would definitely suggest just making sure that you at least have your extracurricular activities done in advance and your essays done at least two weeks in advance. This gives you time to have people read over it, definitely go to your teachers, or any professionals.
"So I would definitely suggest just making sure that you at least have your extracurricular activities done in advance and your essays done at least two weeks in advance."
I had my mom read over it multiple times, in addition to teachers and other individuals in the legal field that I know. Also, get your recommendations out of the way as soon as possible. Make sure that the individuals who are writing your recommendations like you because some people have made the mistake and it has not worked out for them. Make sure if it's a peer recommendation, find one of your closest friends who knows how passionate you are about this school, who knows about you like intimately, and then also your teachers who know how passionate you are, and can speak to your performance inside and outside the classroom.
It doesn't even just have to be teachers, just individuals who can actually speak to your personality and who you are and what you stand for.
Q: What things did you struggle with in the process?
A: I think everyone's experience is different.
I will say, one of my main application essays to Dartmouth was going to be about a coconut because it just made me so happy one day to actually go get a coconut and actually learn how to open it myself. Anyways, what I'm trying to get at is that I would just suggest taking some time to reflect upon your four years or three years or throughout in high school and figure out what you want the admissions team to know about you.
Everyone can be caring and everyone's dedicated, hard-working, and driven. But what makes you stand out? What do you think you can contribute to these colleges? And how much time do you need to actually put these ideas down on paper? So I just think it varies, depending on the individual.
Q: You were very involved in politics and law as well. In fact, you interned for the Superior Court Judge and a Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney. How did you find these opportunities?
A: I was a part of this program in Charlotte where the district attorney and assistant district attorneys were putting on this program and I reached out to one of them and I told her I was super interested. She connected me with the judge and I actually made a fool out of myself. When I first met the judge, which is why the judge like actually remembered me and I wouldn't suggest doing this, but I called her Miss Williams instead of Justice Williams or Your Honor, it was so embarrassing. She corrected me in front of everybody as they were taking a break during one of the hearings. It was embarrassing, but I did get to know her later, and some more. She's really inspirational. She's a really amazing woman.
Just like that, I saw another perspective of the judicial system with me going out of my comfort zone and actually talking to these individuals and expressing my interest — that's kind of how I got those internship opportunities.
I will say, though, a lot of networking has put so many amazing internships right on my lap. But also, in terms of other internships or other opportunities, you just have to search for it as well, because you're not always going to hear about some things. You'll have to find it yourself, but I would say networking has probably been like the best thing I've ever done to get this far.
Thanks for reading!
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