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

On July 4th, 1987, my mother cowered under a bed in a rented room outside Minneapolis.

She didn't know what the word "fireworks" meant, and there weren't many Farsi speakers around, so she assumed the noises she heard were explosions.

This wasn't totally unreasonable – just months earlier, she was living in a Pakistani refugee camp after being smuggled across the border from Iran. She was there because four years prior, a cleric decided that declaring herself a Baha'i was reason enough to expel her from her final year of pharmacy school, burn her family's house to the ground, and bar her from meaningful employment.

That year, she turned 24 years old. The year I turned 24, I enrolled at the Harvard Business School.

My life is not mine, it was not free, and it definitely did not happen by chance. Opportunity was not "given" to me – it was purchased. My life was paid for in full with a year in poverty in a camp in southwestern Pakistan, with a night huddled under a blanket in the bed of a Toyota Hilux fleeing from the bullets of the Iranian border patrol, and with four years sewing baby clothes and oven mitts with borrowed machines to sell in secrecy because earning a wage openly would mean yet another home set aflame.

What do I plan to do with my one wild and precious life? Well, if I'm very lucky, I hope to make my mother proud.

— Raamin Mostaghimi