My truth of the ‘American dream’

Fernanda López
Fernanda’s Knowledge Vault
6 min readJan 28, 2021


The new American Dream isn’t about coming to a new country and getting access to equal treatment and benefits. Instead, it’s about coming to this country and learning how to fight for that equality.

Enough, Photo by Liam Edwards

I stare at my laptop screen in horror, as my hands cover half of my eyes. I see people yelling at the police, carrying weapons, and flagging signs with words I would never think of pronouncing.

I stare at my laptop screen in disbelief, to experience a society that has been so polarized, and so blind to the existence of decades-long anger and frustration.

I close my laptop and feel the silence. Thick. Suffocating. I take a deep breath that is fought by a sigh.

The American Dream,” I whisper to myself.

John Adams coined the term when he described the ‘American dream’ as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

Opportunity for everyone.

Better. Richer. Fuller.

I read this definition, once, twice, a thousand times. Until the words lose meaning and I cannot make sense of them anymore.

Unmasking a Dream

The American Dream claims to give hope to immigrants that they will have access to the same opportunities, promotions, benefits that those born in the U.S. do.

It claims that whoever decides to step into this land, no matter of their background or position has the promise that these characteristics won’t determine their future.

I open my laptop once again, minimize the tab with the news open only to stare at my completed W-2 form. After spending hours making sure I didn’t mistake any detail that could displace me as “non-compliant with the law.” No way, I can’t afford that.

How ironic, right? That my money might be going to a fund to build a wall between my native country and my “new home.”

Call me a liar if you want, but this ‘dream’ is not true.

How My Dream Began…

I was born and raised in México. Born in the beautiful city of Monterrey, and raised in the entrepreneurial hub of Guadalajara.

Guadalajara, Photo by Annabel Orozco

I was lucky to have a hard-working father, who sacrificed his life and entrepreneurial desires to pursue a stable job to provide for our family — even if that meant traveling and being away from home on Sunday mornings.

I was blessed to be raised by my mother, who was willing to move away from her brothers and sisters to raise her family in an urban area. A mother who selflessly claimed her purpose to be committed to us.

My father would always say “I won’t leave you any inheritance other than education. That will be my legacy.” He would use and spend everything we own, on our access to higher education.

And so I learned English, went to a bilingual (and bicultural) school, and found myself daydreaming about the possibility of attending college in the United States.

And it wasn’t as smooth or as easy as it might sound, like any other American student, we had to prepare and excel. We had to spend money on standardized exam tutors and programs, take an overload of advanced classes. To achieve our parents’ dream. Our friends’ dream. Our own dream.

The Awakening

I find myself understanding that the American Dream is not given to us, but rather we have to fight for it.

We have to fight for opportunities. Prove our neighbors that we are worthy of opportunities. But most importantly, and most difficult, not forget that we are worthy of opportunities.

And so, as I have come to the conclusion that my experience in college will not follow the traditional ‘American Dream’, but rather provides me with the opportunity of defining what that means for me.

Empowered, Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

Re-defining my American Dream.

The new American Dream isn’t about coming to a new country and getting access to equal treatment and benefits. Instead, it’s about coming to this country and learning how to fight for that equality.

Here are some of the things that define what my ‘American dream’ is:

  1. Finding the balance between individualistic and collectivistic values. As seekers for equality, it is important we fight for a balance between independent and dependent mindsets. It’s important for us to look after ourselves, but also keep in check how we think as a society. To avoid massive polarization, and not look to invalidate and shut down others’ beliefs and ideas but try to think through the lens of understanding.
  2. Instant access to globalization. It is now my focus and learning goal to increase connections between different parts of the world and the people around me. It’s a goal to learn as many cultures, backgrounds, and industries as I can to understand people’s perspectives, motivations, and behaviors.
  3. Learning as a mindset, not a chore. It is so important when re-defining this dream, to understand that one of my main goals through college, and independent study time, is to be passionate about learning. My dream is around exploiting my curiosity, and taking education to the next level. To learn as much as I can, from a diverse pool of individuals.
  4. Having an opportunity to pave the way for others. One of the most defining pieces of my American dream is the ability to fight for what is right and paving the way for other people in my community, and other minority groups. I aim to continue working on bringing more women representation in industries like VC, PE, venture, and finance. And to continue working with diverse groups to highlight voices from underrepresented industry professionals and founders.

No. My critique of the American Dream isn’t meant to be a generalization to every situation immigrant students have experienced.

It’s simply a reflection of my truth. And my idea of where change needs to be done.

We shouldn’t think we live in a perfect country that doesn’t need change. In fact, it’s the opposite. We are in desperate need of change.

And change starts with us. With us acknowledging that we have to change if we want the real ‘American Dream’ to be too. If we want people to have the same access to opportunities regardless of where they are from, what language they speak, or the color of their skin.

Change starts when we voice what is wrong and take a long look in the mirror and finally breathe since we’re not hiding behind a mask.

Under our breath, we sigh. We finally get to see ourselves for who we are: an unperfect society with ambition, and determination, to become better.

That’s the only way in which we won’t let this ‘Dream’ turn into a nightmare.

For my marketing elective class, our professor has asked us to write blogs. But not any type of blogs. He has asked us to share our story, our voice. The topics will range from our background to our expected learning outcomes to new industry discoveries. And so I’ve seen it as a chance to finally be brutally honest. To find my writer’s authentic voice, and let the words flow out of my fingers as I type these pages.

#NEU #Entrepreneurship #MKTG4983 #January6th



Fernanda López
Fernanda’s Knowledge Vault

Marketing & Neuroscience Student | Co-Vice President of Northeastern’s WeBuild Incubator | Passion for learning