“I am a proud descendant of Greek immigrants (among others). In 1915 came the onset of the Greek-Armenian holocaust as well as World War I. My propappoús (great- grandfather) enlisted at age 17 into the ranks of the Hellenic Army, where he saved his future wife (my great-grandmother) and many of her family from the genocide of the Greek-Armenians in Turkey. By 1934, in great economic instability, he sought to provide a better life for his young family, so he decided to move his five children and his wife to the U.S. to pursue the American Dream in “The Land of Opportunity.”
With the little money they had, the only form of transportation the family could afford was a cattle freighter. The rank and unsanitary conditions of the boat took a great toll on the family and especially on my great-grandmother, making her very ill. On the last week of their voyage, she tragically miscarried twin boys late in the pregnancy. In a bittersweet moment, they named their stillborn twins Liberty and Freedom. Freedom became my namesake; a name I carry with both pride and remembrance.
The meaning of my middle name extends past my father’s Greek ancestors into my mother’s line. This month as we celebrate July 4 and 24, I feel especially close to two of my other great-grandfather ancestors, Jacob Pettibone and Lorenzo Snow.
On the fourth, I remember the sacrifices of Captain Pettibone who fought for freedom in the Revolutionary War and served as a member of Knowlton’s Rangers (the first U.S. organized espionage organization). He reported directly to General Washington. On the 24th, I remember the sacrifices of Lorenzo Snow, Utah Pioneer and fifth president of the LDS church, who sacrificed the life he built in Ohio to trek west in search of religious freedom.
I come from a long line of innovators, entrepreneurs and patriots. A dedication to freedom and liberty runs deep through my veins, which is why I have a passion for entrepreneurship. Being an entrepreneur gives you complete freedom – your success (or failure) rests upon your work ethic, determination, intelligence and attitude. I have grandfathers and grandmothers who carried the name of “inventor” with pride and were among the first patent filers in the U.S.
It is a liberating feeling knowing there are no limits on your potential except those you place on yourself – that’s the American Dream – that’s what brought my propappoús to America and that’s what inspired me to pursue a career in entrepreneurial consulting and venture capital.
Although I may not be called to the battlefield or to trek across the country, I feel an innate duty to help preserve the freedoms given me by the sacrifices of those before me and extend freedom to others through helping them pursue the American Dream of entrepreneurship.”
—Luke Freedom Hansen, U student majoring in Honors finance and entrepreneurship with a minor in leadership studies.