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

My sisters and I knew our mom hadn’t been the best about keeping up with her rent, but we were still surprised when a police officer showed up and said we had to move. “Mom’s being evicted,” I told my dad over the phone. “Can you come pick us up?”

In eighth grade, I was too naïve to know that we wouldn’t be seeing Mom again. I thought that she would eventually come back, not knowing that her inability to pay rent was the result of years spent fighting an invisible battle. Only later did I find out that her steady decline into joblessness and homelessness was precipitated by a history of mental health issues that went undiagnosed.

Having watched my mom transition from a comfortable middle-class lifestyle to a life on the streets, I will be a business leader who openly values mental health in the workplace. I will be a champion of vulnerability and authenticity in the hopes that no child has to watch his or her parents fall from grace.

— Akash Gupta