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A few days ago, Jeremy Lin was just a benchwarmer being passed around the NBA locker rooms. Now, headline reads “Jeremy Lin: Even Kobe bows to his star power.” Jeremy Lin has led a sluggish New York Knicks to four straight victories, the last one against the Lakers. Scoring 38 points on the Lakers, Jeremy has suddenly become the highest scoring starter in modern day NBA.
In high school, Jeremy captained his team to a state championship in the highly competitive state of California. He was named the player of the year by nearly all California publications, yet he did not receive any athletic scholarships. While attending Harvard, he earned unanimous selection for All-Ivy League First Team. After college, he was again undrafted by the NBA, but taken on by the Golden State Warriors, but seeing little playing time. The Knicks, in a desperation move after several injuries to its starting players, picked Jeremy up. In just four games, Jeremy has become a living legend.
What inspires me is not his meteoric rise to stardom, but how he got there. Jeremy is not a late blossom. He is a shining star for the beginning. Why was he overlooked until now? There is no doubt some racism is at play, either intentional or subconscious. At Ivy League games, he is often jeered with racist comments such as “Open your eyes!”, and “Orchestra is on the other side of campus.” Despite being passed up at every level of the game, Jeremy held firm to his dreams.
Jeremy’s story should resonant with all Asian Americans growing up in America, and anyone who has ever been denied of opportunities because of stereotypes. For this one success story, how many Asian kids’ sports dreams were crushed because of the biases of scouts and coaches? How many people’s dreams were shattered because they were not given the opportunity to advance to the next level?
When I chose to study at CEIBS over Wharton, my friends were all puzzled. I came because the opportunity for me in China has no ceiling. Although straight out racism has gone out of fashion, the new form of racism has been introduced in the form of “diversity.” It seems most, if not all, of the “diversity” targets are set based on race. Does one’s race really bring diversity of thought to the school or workplace? For me, race brings as much as diversity as eye colors, brand choices, or any other arbitrary metric. I often hear corporations say that there is not enough “diversity” at the top of the corporate ladder, and actively recruit all minorities EXCEPT Asians. Yet, Asian executives, partners, or managing directors are probably the most underrepresented minority, despite of a large analyst-level pool.
As I began my climb of the corporate ladder post-MBA, I know I will face more adversities and challenges than most. However, Jeremy Lin’s example of overcoming all odds to succeed will forever be in the back of my mind. It will inspire me to hold firm to my dreams and not give up.
If you had what it takes to get into Wharton, I'm sure you'll be fine in your career regardless of where you decided to go. Hell, the true superstars of the business world don't need MBA's or even BA's to be super successful.
That said, I think likening your situation to Jeremy Lin's doesn’t make sense. If Jeremy Lin had been offered a starting job with the Knicks after Harvard and had decided to play for the China league instead because he was afraid he could never overcome his "Taiwanese-American" heritage in the NBA, THEN, that would be similar to what you have decided to do. But instead, sounds to me like you psyched yourself out of attending Wharton and you might be still trying to convince yourself you made the right choice.