A Dream: The Star to Guide Your Life


The great poet Langston Hughes wrote, “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” Those lines have always resonated with me. I firmly believe that for life to have meaning, one must have dreams and aspirations.

One of the great and powerful forces in our country is the concept of the “American Dream.” The idea is that if you have aspirations and you work hard, you will progress in your life, career, and future. I think Ashford students embody this concept. They work hard, commit themselves to building a better future, and believe that learning will improve their lives.

But there are other aspects to dreams and ambitions. Thomas Jefferson is often credited with the following quote: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” As I’ve thought about those words, I’ve interpreted them to mean that if you do whatever you are doing really well, opportunities will come to you. But to make the most of your efforts, you should have goals, dreams, or ambitions. These will serve as a destination point in your life.

Those of us who have found our passion and work hard to move forward toward our dreams are lucky. I always tell my children that whatever it is they are doing, do it as well as they can and keep their eyes open for opportunities. As I look back on my career, I have moved every five years or so in order to pursue my dreams. The lesson learned here is that sometimes you have to make sacrifices in order to fulfill your dreams; but never forget that you need that star to guide your life.

I believe that our country is a wonderful place and that the American Dream is alive and well, but you have to work for it. It is not a gift.

As President of Ashford University, I feel grateful to be part of an institution that provides an avenue for people to pursue their dreams. Our students want to better themselves, and I hope that they will maintain that drive for the rest of their lives.


Dr. Richard L. Pattenaude is the President and CEO of Ashford University.

Questions? Talk with an Advisor