By Emily Wren

I was born in Korea and given up for adoption because there were few support options for my birth mother who was unmarried at the time. I was adopted by an American family. I know I’m privileged to be at Harvard, to have this education, these opportunities. I have to live a life of gratitude…

I cannot stand here today and say that there was no luck, no gift, no grace. How, then, do I live a life of gratitude for what I’ve been given? How do I honor those who weren’t as lucky? Reflecting on the state of America and my love of capitalism and freedom, I saw the answer in defending the American Dream. I don’t need everyone to have the same outcome. I’m not bothered if some people’s biggest life accomplishment is buying a home or sending their kids to college, while others’ is creating a multi-billion dollar charitable foundation. But I am bothered if the American Dream falters; if, because of broken systems and a tragic public education, the equation “work hard = improve life” no longer plays out. Today, there seem to be too many people (children especially) who work hard, do everything right, and never see it pay off. I don’t understand how to fix it yet, but the more I think about it, the more I think it’s an imperative to our future.

Emily Wren
Harvard Business School

Defend the American Dream