I am evidence achieving the American dream is possible. My family came to this country as refugees from war-torn Cambodia with little education, fluency of the language and financial resources. Today, I am a home and business owner with savings, no consumer debt, and free time to spend with my loved ones. However, there is this presumption that with the freedoms we have in America and the help of government and private social policy initiatives, achieving this American dream only takes a little hard work and ambition. I know personally it is not that easy.
For the last few years, I have been both a keynote speaker and a presenter at the annual American Association of University Women (AAUW) STEM Career Conference in Long Beach, CA. Middle-school girls selected from underserved neighborhoods are invited to hear from women with careers in science, technology, engineering, and math to encourage them to attend college and excite them about these generally male dominated professions. My goal was to share the purposeful life I have built helping others, while showing these students how I was able to financially support a family and have flexibility in my work schedule to raise my daughter as a single mother. A career in wealth management can offer the work-life balance so many young people seek. At one event, a young Hispanic student came to me and said, “Thank you for encouraging me to see that the world needs more women like me in a profession in which I can be successful and be able to spend time with my family.” That was my “Aha!” moment. I came to realize that it’s not a lack of effort or resources that prevents some from achieving the American dream, but rather a false perception that having the dream is simply not possible for them. It is not only providing the resources that matters, but the access to others with whom they can identify who have achieved the dream. For me, this echoed the notion that representation, does indeed, matter.
I share the background and traits of so many struggling communities – as an immigrant, woman, single mother, parents with little education and few financial resources. However, one of the biggest hurdles I faced was overcoming my own fears around whether I could achieve the success I saw others attain who didn’t look like me or share my background. This has been the driver for me to educate, support, and encourage more underrepresented communities to consider this career option. It is imperative we not let women miss out on a profession that can provide purpose, financial stability, and scheduling flexibility to be present for their families. This is how we build generational wealth – by not only paving a path for financial stability, but a path towards a balanced life – where emotional well-being enables us to show up for our families and communities in the most positive way possible. I believe that is the American dream. I urge you to ask yourself, what is your definition of the American dream, have you achieved it for yourself and how are you helping others achieve it as well?
Sathya Chey is a registered representative with, and securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC.