SEDALIA — The American Next project is prompting me to get beyond Columbia and meet people who live different lives and have different attitudes and expectations. Here are some of the things I heard during an early trip to Sedalia, where I met three young professionals and asked them to define their American Dream:
- "Happiness. It should be about happiness. And we really shouldn't put limits or definitions including college, owning your own business, being financially successful. All of those things are fine. But I'll be honest — I never thought I would say this — if I die broke as hell but I raise three kids who love each other, love me and are happy, I don't care." — Jon Parkhurst, 33, single father of three, self-employed as a web developer.
- "My American Dream is to live comfortably and give generously." — Matt LaCasse, 33, public relations and marketing specialist at Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri. LaCasse said the dream could be different for everybody, but he doesn't need a private island or a yacht to be happy.
- "Be able to support your family." — Matt Melville, 29, owner of Melville Properties LLC and Melville Antiques & Restorations. For Melville, support can mean a lot of things including financial security and emotional ties. Melville elaborated, saying he wants to have a family (though he doesn't have children yet), a successful business, his wife to be able to stay at home with their children and to be able to send his children to college.
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.