Ambitious at Any Age

Hoang Samuelson
6 min readMay 31, 2022

The thing that’s hard to teach

The other day, I saw this in my LinkedIn feed.

This came from one of my former bosses, the woman who gave me my first job right out of college. While I was happy for her son, I also had another thought that popped into my head.

That is — I’ve never seen any parent, either in real life or on social media, say anything about their child graduating with an arts degree. Not once did I see or hear a message like this: “My son/daughter just graduated with an art/philosophy/sociology/liberal arts degree! Now they’re going to make big bucks and have a great life. How lucky are we?!?”


Because that message doesn’t exist, and it probably never will.

Personally, I can attest to the fact that my mom (and Asian parents in general) was not enthusiastic about me wanting to pursue an arts-related degree. Toward the end of high school, when I told her that I wanted to be a fashion designer, that I’d been drawing for most of my life, that I was interested in making garments, she scoffed at this notion as if it were foreign.

“How are you going to make any money?” she asked. “There’s no jobs in fashion here.”

She was right. Portland was never the hub for fashion. In order for me to “make it” as a fashion designer…



Hoang Samuelson

Features Editor @ Chowhound. Former lead editor Writer of food, family and fiction. Based in Portland, OR. More at