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At the ripe age of 41, my entire life has been leading up to the moment I hear welcome to the Bar of Texas. Although I successfully completed law school and passed the Texas Bar Exam, I have yet to hear those affirming words. Half a year ago, my application to join the Bar of Texas was denied. This denial could have been a definitive end to my aspirations, yet I chose to appeal the decision, facing a new challenge before the Texas Board of Law Examiners to prove my character and fitness.

The denial was a devastating blow, echoing the toughest moments of my life. Imagine the weight of years of sacrifice feeling suddenly futile—my time in military service overseas, the balancing of a busy family life with five children, and the grueling academic pursuit all seemed in jeopardy. But, I’m fighting to keep the spirit of my all-time favorite movie, A Knight’s Tale, and continue to believe, as William Thatcher believed, that “a man can change his stars.”

At the age of 17, I dropped out of high school. By 20, I was about to become a father for the third time. With no education beyond high school, no job skills, and feeling like I had no real value to offer, I was far from where I wanted to be. But like William Thatcher, who rose from a humble squire to a celebrated knight, I knew I needed to rewrite my story. I joined the Army, which instilled in me discipline and a drive to pursue something greater. This marked the beginning of my transformation from what felt like a “nobody” to someone striving for “nobility.”

While I’m no longer 20 or in the Army, it is 20 years later and I feel like history is repeating itself. I’m back in a position where I have to prove myself, make changes, and prepare for what feels like the biggest obstacle of my life. The preparation has involved more than just legal study. I filled my schedule with community service, aligning my actions with the core values of the legal profession. I compiled examples of my integrity, professionalism, and resilience, and my colleagues at the personal injury firm where I work, along with my mentors from law school, generously provided testimonials to my ethical conduct and dedication. This multi-angled effort was about proving my worthiness to serve justly and honorably as an attorney.

Simultaneously, the encouragement I received from the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program and the veteran community was invaluable. Their support affirmed that a setback is merely a part of a larger narrative, not the conclusion. That a setback is a setup for a comeback. Hearing stories of others who have faced and overcame similar challenges boosted my resolve and injected hope into my preparations. This period of adversity became a profound learning experience, teaching me that every challenge, whether in combat or in court, offers valuable lessons and growth opportunities.

As the hearing approaches, I am fortified by a deep-seated hope and the collective strength of my community. The possibility of finally hearing welcome to the Bar of Texas remains a powerful motivator. This journey has taught me the importance of perseverance, the value of community support, and the power of a hopeful outlook. These lessons have prepared me to advocate not only for myself but also for others who face their own battles within and beyond the legal system.

To those who are navigating obstacles, whether they be professional setbacks, personal trials, or both, remember this: Our challenges do not define us; rather, our response to them does. We are shaped by our ability to persevere through adversity, supported by the belief and encouragement of those around us. No matter the outcome of my hearing, I am committed to continuing my journey, striving to uphold justice and advocating for those in need. Just as William Thatcher changed his