Two friends, two very different dreams

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 | 7:55 p.m. CDT; updated 9:09 a.m. CDT, Monday, May 7, 2012

COLUMBIA — Adrienne Long and Alana Flowers were killing time between classes at the MU Student Center. They are both 21, African-American and will be graduating soon with plans to leave Columbia – and chase two very different dreams.

For Long, a communications and business major, it involves moving to Los Angeles, where she plans to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and get a job.

"My American Dream is to be working, standing on my own two feet by 25," she said. "By 29, I'm where I want to be in life, in my career, financially. And by 30, I'm making strides toward having $1 million in my bank account. My American Dream is my goals."

A family fits into Long's ambitious picture once she's 26 or 27.

"Kids wear you down. I don't really like them," Long said. Across the table, her friend Alana Flowers burst into laughter.

Flowers is the single mom of a 2-year-old girl, who lives with her in Columbia. Being a full-time student and a full-time mom has been hard, she said. But it has also been a motivator for wanting to do things better.

After getting her degree in communications and business at MU, Flowers might return to her hometown, St. Louis, to be close to her family. Or she might go to grad school. Either way, she has no doubts that she will be able to build a successful career in public relations.

"I feel like I would be the type of woman to put my career before a man at this time," Flowers said. "I just really want to get myself established and have a good foundation for me and my child before I bring anybody else in. So my American Dream is kind of backwards: Go ahead, have a baby, get a career and then get married. I don't know, but everything has been working out in my favor thus far, so I don't have any worries."

This story is part of the American Next, a special project exploring the hopes, fears and changing expectations of Missouri's next generation in challenging times. 

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