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

My journey to the career I have today started with a note I left under my parents’ pillow, a note in which I promised them I would make them proud. I was seven years old when I left my parents’ house in a Romanian village to live with a friend of a family friend and attend a better school that my mother had enrolled me in. My father died when I was 10 and my mother went to Italy to work as a caregiver to make up for the income loss. She was willing to do anything to help me get access to better education. Just like my mother, one in every four Romanians emigrated in search of better work opportunities, leaving behind over 300,000 children.

My upbringing made me realize it is unfair that Romanians need to give up so much to have a better life. As such, I plan to dedicate my one wild and precious life to make Romania home again for all Romanians that have left the country. I dream of building a company in Romania where employees can have the same salaries, quality of training, work environment and opportunities that they would find abroad.

I was able to make it to Harvard despite growing up in a remote Romanian village and it has changed my life. I wish more children have this opportunity, only without having to sacrifice as much as I did. So, I plan to do everything I can to support kids in villages to have better access to high quality education and fulfill their dreams. Only then I will have made my parents proud, just as I promised when I left home.

— Miriam Serban