Our partners at Opportunity Nation believe that “opportunity moments” define the American Dream, but in communities across the nation not everyone gets their own opportunity moment, especially young adults. Here at the Case Foundation, we are thankful for all of the defining moments that have propelled us to where we are, both personally and professionally.

Brian – My ninth grade teacher created an important #OpportunityMoment for me. She talked me (and a few other students) into playing cards with the elderly in a nursing home every Thursday afternoon. It was the first time I truly understood how enjoyable and rewarding “giving back” could be.

Sheila – My dad created so many #OpportunityMoments for me which taught me the importance of quiet confidence, listening to others, diversifying your circles of friends, challenging norms and always having fun. He persistently asked tough questions, such as “Why not try to be the first girl on the Little League team?” or “What’s the worst thing that could happen if you spoke up with a differing opinion?” He always delivered questions in the most nurturing, but propelling manner and set me on a path that I have felt honored to be on.

Jade – My #OpportunityMoment is creating arts experiences for disadvantaged youth. Spending time in Thailand teaching art to children in group homes and orphanages only expanded my commitment. Today I work to provide the youth of D.C. with exposure to world-class arts institutions and artists within our nation’s capital. I am proud to serve on the board of two organizations – Project Create and the D.C. Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative – who are doing just that.

Molly – The most impactful #OpportunityMoment for me has been having amazing parents as my role models. They have done so much to provide for me, encouraged me and never let me underestimate my capabilities.

Coleen – I’ll be honest, I can’t really pinpoint a specific #OpportunityMoment in my life. I keep coming back to how my parents are the reason for all of the opportunities I’ve had. They provided a foundation of support, encouragement and security that ultimately allowed me to make my path and achieve without worry. I consider myself very lucky to have had such a valuable base that has allowed doors to open and great opportunity to come my way.

Emily – My #OpportunityMoment occurred when my high school social studies teacher encouraged me to dive into my passion for international relations. I ended up starting a Model UN club for students and taking a number of classes that I would not have otherwise. This change in course helped me to explore new areas and help others—ultimately leading me to where I am today both personally and professionally.

Sean – My #OpportunityMoment is when my high school economics teacher encouraged me to use time, both in and out of class, to explore the subject matter and find answers to my questions that went beyond the topics covered during lessons. He created an environment in which I felt compelled to apply myself to learn more than what was needed to pass the tests; I credit him with my academic curiosity in applied mathematics and economics and my eventual degree.

Elyse – I credit my parents with creating my #OpportunityMoment when they sent me to sleep away camp before I started sixth grade. That summer pushed me outside of my comfort zone and showed me that there was so much to experience in the world beyond the bubble of my small town.

Allie – My #OpportunityMoment came during my junior year in high school when my parents returned from a business trip to Boston. My mom gave me a book about the city and said, “I think you should consider going to college here.” My intent was to stick close to home (in Arizona), but she pushed me to reach beyond my bubble. Going to college on the East Coast was the first big step that put me on the path to where I am today.

Julia – My #OpportunityMoment occurred when I was just three months old and my father’s first tour with the state department moved us to Rome, Italy. Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up overseas in four life-changing posts.

Dave – I feel like I’ve had a number undeserved #OpportunityMoments, but the biggest one was living with my grandparents for the first eight years of my life. Hearing stories of where they came from, the struggles they’ve gone through to be successful, and then watching them continue to be hard working people has helped set a pulse and work ethic in my life.

Sarah – Growing up in a small Wisconsin town, it wasn’t always easy to find “outside the classroom” experiences for young children. When I was in elementary school, my #OpportunityMoment came when I was able to participate in a local college’s ACE program (Advanced College Experience). Each summer, I would spend two weeks at the college experiencing immersive classes on topics ranging from Middle Ages architecture to Arabic, physics to pottery, puppeteering to Sign Language. This was an incredible way to go beyond the classroom and set a precedent for creativity and learning that has stuck with me my entire life.

Share your #OpportunityMoment with the @CaseFoundation and @OppNation on Twitter.

This year, the Case Foundation is proud to support Opportunity Nation through a grant and by running a session at their biannual gathering in Washington, D.C.