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

On a hot July 4th, I sat in the garage with my "paw paw" waiting for the barbeque ribs to finish cooking. Amidst the small talk, I dared to ask: "What was it like living in the south before civil rights?" My paw paw told me about an encounter he had had with a white man during the days of Jim Crow. All of a sudden, he hunched over and started weeping. "He yelled at me like I was dog." I went over to comfort him, but words didn’t seem like enough to console this deep wound.

My grandpa's first vocation was picking cotton in the Louisiana countryside. He later moved to Houston, TX to create a better life for his family and became an entrepreneur owning and operating car washes with only a 6th grade education. 

Due to life circumstances, there was no family-owned business to be handed down. Most of my grandfather’s children (including my mom) found themselves as a divorced single parent, a blue-collar worker living in a low-income neighborhood or incarcerated. 

My generation is starting from square one all over again, but God “who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all I can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20) has brought me to HBS. With this gift, I am determined to continue my paw paw’s legacy of triumph with a heart of optimism and charity.

Like my paw paw, I’ve learned to be bold and resilient in the face of adversity. I will be a boss, blazing a trail so that I can be a blessing to others.

— Ceena Beall