By Niya Weathers (BA Political Science, ’18)
What is the American Dream to me? The American Dream is opportunity for all, the ability of our nation to provide us with basic public goods, along with our right to liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Equal opportunities and access are key because every society rich and poor should be able to obtain the necessary institutions that every person needs to succeed.
My American Dream was attending college and pursuing my dreams of becoming a lawyer, but at many points of my life I had shortcomings. I did not come from a wealthy, two-parent household; instead, I came from a home with a single parent of four. My mother worked beyond what she ever thought she was capable of doing to provide for us and get her college degree.
Growing up, I always wanted to be a part of social groups, sports teams, etc. Instead, when I came of age, I got a job. I have worked since I was 16 years old in order to get the burden off of my mother’s back of having to do everything for me. As a teenager, I had to make sacrifices in order to work and in the process, I believe I grew up too fast. My mother never pushed me into getting a job; instead, I did it for me so that I could do for myself and make her proud. But I always felt that I missed out on a portion of my life, and the same continues today. I have pushed myself through college with the help of my mother, working full-time hours along with going to school full-time.
My college experience, as I pictured it growing up, was supposed to be about meeting new people, becoming involved, joining groups, and making memories with wonderful friends. My experience has fallen short of what I have imagined and wanted. For me, college has been endless stress, anxiety, sleepless nights, loneliness, wanting to be a part of something, and breaking points, but as I approach my last semester, I realize that I did it. I pushed through my struggles, and the outcome will be phenomenal and emotional.
This is what the American Dream is to me — beating the odds, putting faith in God, and pursuing what you believe, despite the trials and tribulations that come along with it. I have conquered my American Dream, but my story does not end here.
To register for the 2017 American Dream Conference, visit http://americandreamconference.com/register/.