Axios Finish Line

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May 11, 2022

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  • Smart Brevity™ count: 377 words ... 1½ minutes.

1 big thing: American Dream is alive

At the same parking booth — two decades later. Courtesy Rudra Pandey

Erica's dad, Rudra Pandey, was born in a village in Nepal to farmers.

  • He came to Boston to earn his Ph.D. — and paid for it by working overnight shifts as a parking attendant at Commercial Wharf, a luxury condo complex.

💡 As school ended, he was looking for a job in his field. So he put a copy of his résumé on the hood of every car he parked.

  • Someone finally took a look — and gave him a job at Fleet Bank, now Bank of America.
  • Since then, he has scaled and sold two software companies — and given his two kids every opportunity under the sun.

Rudra credits his success to the American Dream.

  • We often hear the American Dream is dead. But whatever you think of immigration, every year people come here from around the world — and find it's attainable.

Zoom out: People across borders and oceans still view the U.S. as the place to come to build a better life for their children.

  • 70% of U.S. adults — across race, gender, political party and income — say the American Dream is achievable, Gallup polling found.

Three American Dream stats to chew on:

  1. Founder frenzy: 44% of Fortune 500 companies have at least one founder who is an immigrant or the child of immigrants, according to stats from New American Economy, founded by Michael Bloomberg.
  2. Upward mobility: Even the children of immigrants who fall in the poorest quarter of the U.S. end up in the middle class, Princeton researchers found.
  3. Self-made wealth: 80% of America's millionaires — foreign- and U.S.-born — are first-generation.

The bottom line: The U.S. remains the leading destination for immigrants with big dreams. 20% of all the world’s immigrants are in the U.S., according to Pew Research Center.

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🧠 Founder facts

Illustration of a door made of an American flag opening with light pouring out. 
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

3 notable founders who emigrated to the U.S.:

  1. David Neeleman, a Brazilian immigrant, started JetBlue.
  2. Noubar Afeyan, a Lebanese immigrant, is a co-founder of Moderna, which developed one of the coronavirus vaccines.
  3. John W. Nordstrom, who started the department store with his name, emigrated from Sweden to Seattle in the late 1800s.

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