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The Crowder Law Firm Scholarship Spring 2024 Winner

Pedro Veiga de Aguiar Guimaraes

Pedro’s essay on “What is the American Dream?” is an excellent example of a student with the vision and wherewithal to know that America is not reaching its full potential. We trust that with his graduate degree and beyond, Pedro will be a force for good in our society, so we could not be more thrilled to award him the financial assistance he needs to continue pursuing his goals.

Pedro Veiga de Aguiar Guimaraes

Read Pedro's Essay:

What was once a way to portray a specific pattern of living in the early 20th century, entitled as the “American Dream,” has evolved into something much more subjective in the contemporary mindset. As such, many could consider that its concepts are largely forgotten nowadays and can only be seen through a certain moment in history.

Indeed, there is a historical aspect of the term that symbolizes certain characteristics of the American way of life. In the 1920s, this would represent a growing and optimistic society with a high standard of living, customs, and cultural aspects in a general manner. That is also the period when the American culture was heavily being pushed as the standard for success. With little information at the time, it was a time when it was possible to take a snippet of society and show it as the most advanced and prosperous way of living.

However, shortly after these profound impacts, especially in the Western part of the world, the economic crisis that hit the United States in 1929 showed how fragile the foundation of this system was. People who were trusting their capabilities to obtain riches were now wandering for homes and struggling to make ends meet. Even after the apparent stability, the US was not away from the conditions that the world was in. After two great wars, the imminent danger of nuclear weapons, a fierce enemy during the Cold War, and a social crisis inside the country with the civil rights movements showed just how fragile those beliefs could be.

Despite that, its influence continued through movies, music, and other cultural aspects. That would define many generations to come with many characteristics of the daily American life. This second moment is still present in the 21st century since all the western culture follows the tendencies that Hollywood dictates. The presence of the American culture in so many lives represents a shift from the economic pattern of the “American Dream” as it was in the 20th century to a social one. American culture is now responsible for establishing hopes, dreams, morals, among other things, in the lives of entire generations and families in countries with many differences from it.

This has a good and a bad side. Surely, this visibility of the American culture gives them the potential to portray to many different backgrounds, more specifically oppressed and even dictatorial ones, that it is possible to live in a safe society where their voices are heard. This gives them hope that someday this can be achieved. On the other hand, this can also create an unrealistic idea of what this culture means. It can be sold as an idea of perfection and exemption of problems. With that belief in mind, they cross whole continents in the pursuit of a better life that does not always come in the terms that were promised.

If we are talking about these views of the “American Dream,” I believe they can be obtainable but the costs are way higher than what was anticipated. It is impossible to have financial stability or a high-standard quality of life without sacrificing time with your family, your health, and even some values in the process. This can be seen through many examples of people disappointed with these beliefs.

That is why I believe that the “American Dream” should be something much bigger than any financial or social security. It is not attached to a specific political party or to any law established up to this day. It is rooted deep within the American soil because of the way this great nation was founded.

It was born with a desire to break free from the turmoil that Europe was facing and the hope of building a nation that would become a symbol of righteousness and justice for the world. It taught those who arrived here at that early age that they were able to conquer their dreams if these were worthy enough and if their spirit was filled with the highest degree of honor and values. It embraced the opportunity to change, to rebuild a life worth living in a place where dreams were possible to happen. The “American Dream” was first the dream of being great in every sense and aspect of life. To start over and right decades of wrongs. This made people give up their lives for their ideals and to defend this land that they made their new home.

When I learned about US History, I knew I was looking at a great nation. However, as time went on, not only me but the whole world witnessed the loss of this identity as it was replaced constantly by other frugal aspects of life and left behind what was responsible for its origin. I still believe this can be found if somehow people can turn their eyes to the values and beliefs that made this nation possible.

Now that I live here, I want to do my best to live and honor the faith and values that made this nation once great. I will never be a true American citizen by blood, but I can become one by heart and defend a nation that is bigger than its monetary amount, their wealth in their lifestyle, their brands, and even their politicians.

The “American Dream” is the hope that we will live and die for bigger things. This is what I will carry here or out as my own.

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