“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

My dad isn’t so smart. School-smart, that is. He didn't build a company, invest in a portfolio, or hold graduate degrees. In fact, he doesn't even hold a high school degree.

Yet, my dad is the smartest man I know.

I could always count on him for a solution – not to math problems, grammar checking, or science experiments – but to real problems.

When we moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago without any furniture, my dad collected assorted scraps and built every piece. Nothing matched, but we had a kitchen table.

When he couldn't send me to basketball camp, he built me my own hoop. The space was small; I could only shuffle within six feet of the rim, but the swoosh of net against my shots was sweeter than any sound.

When my mom lost her job, he made up for the income by teaching himself photography, and built a steady book of wedding clients. My dad didn't know English, but his photos spoke for him.

I want to be as smart as my dad.

You see, my dad built more than just objects – he built a future. With every piece of furniture, he was building a home. With every basketball hoop, he was building my childhood. With every wedding he captured, he was building an education for me.

I will take the gifts he has built for me – love, knowledge, wealth – and use them to build the next generation of kids, companies, and dreams. Like my dad, I will also build from the ground up.

— Ashley Ng