“Use the land of opportunity for your own and your legacy’s benefit”. America surely provides many opportunities and convenience. Regardless of where we are born or what class we are born into, we can attain our own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone. Despite how you arrived in the US, whether to pursue business ideas, follow your love story like I did, or to find refuge based on various circumstances you face, make sure to maximize all the great things this land offers to us.
Is the American Dream still alive? If you speak to many of the immigrants we spoke to, who came to this country with nothing but grit, resilience, and a dream, they will tell you that it certainly is still alive.
As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Meru Hunter McMahon. She is originally from Kazakhstan, a mom, wife, best-selling author and a business owner. As the CEO of Your Savings Pro, she is a passionate holistic wealth expert. Meru has made it her life’s mission to help others find balance and live a debt-free life not just Financially but Spiritually & Emotionally as well. Meru brings her personal, professional and cultural experiences in an effort to help her clients to find hidden treasures in all areas of their lives.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you, I am honored to share my story. I was born in Kazakhstan, a Central Asian country that was influenced by Russia as it was one of the Soviet Union countries until its independence in 1991.
I was raised in a very small village near the oil field “Tengiz” located in northwestern Kazakhstan’s low-lying wetlands along the northeast shores of the Caspian Sea. Tengiz oil field is one of the largest discoveries in recent history thus Kazakhstan is known for its possession of rich oil and natural gas reserves.
In Soviet Union times we didn’t have much but I did have a happy worry free childhood thanks to my amazing mother, who raised me and my siblings with unconditional love and instilled great examples of hard work. When it came time to leave the nest and earn money, I went to work at Tengiz field where I started learning English in order to be able to work in the office.
Many in America might have discovered Kazakhstan from a movie Borat made by British-American mockumentary comedy film starring Sacha Baron Cohen in 2006. The Borat film ignited outrage amongst Kazakh people, especially with the second movie. So many inappropriate and incorrect derogatory portrayals of the nation of Kazakhstan but the truth is Kazakhstan is rich in history and has many beautiful places to visit. It is not anything you saw in the movie Borat as the movie was not filmed in Kazakhstan, but in a small Romanian village. Sacha Baron Cohen chose Kazakhstan because it’s a real country about which most Americans knew little about. This should teach us to learn about things for ourselves so we do not live in an assumed world.
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell us the story?
I understand that most of the time people move to the US for better opportunities, and a better life. In my case, I had moved to the US in pursuit of a love story and to build a family. I had established myself in Kazakhstan at that time working hard, and I was doing great financially. I owned a car and a small apartment, something that not many women had in that time. I was amongst very few women who drove a car where men would turn around to stare at you because it was not the norm.
Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?
My husband and I have been together for almost 3 years, and at the time when he got transferred to the Houston area with his job, that is how I ended up in America. I had applied for a spousal visa in preparation for our move and the process was fairly easy although it required a lot of paperwork to submit.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
Well, since the move was initiated due to my husband’s Oil & Gas job transfer, we were both thankful for the company he worked for because they took good care of our international move. The company allowed us to ship our personal belongings on the company’s expense and they provided all the convenience of packing and unpacking of all our belongings.
So how are things going today?
Things are going well at the moment, but it has not been an easy journey. I lost my mother in 2012 and since then I had lost myself, fallen into grief and sadness which affected my marriage. Unfortunately, right after divorce, my husband who is also the father of my children passed away unexpectedly. That put me into further indescribable pain and I was deeply lost.
In order to cope with all the happenings I immersed myself into creating professional and financial success by working harder. I thought maybe that was the answer to be joyful and happy again. But my wake up call to finally heal and find peace was seeing my pain in my children, as we connected with the pain of losing a parent.
I couldn’t imagine leaving my kids in emotional debt, so in order for me to be able to help them, I had to heal myself first. It took me a while and I do occasionally struggle sometimes but I have finally found peace and joy now, and am able to move through life more peacefully, which I hope to share with other hurting people and of course my children. Leaving a whole legacy behind is important for me and that is in the memory of my mother and the father of my children.
Even though we all have dreams and goals, sometimes life adversities catch us off guard. After healing myself, I took advantage of the American dream that most talked about. You have to grab the opportunities presented if your initial dreams and plans do not come to fruition as you desired.
It was assumed that I would have less chance of being hired by a big corporation with no American degree, and English being my 3rd self-taught language. However, not only did I work for great companies i.e. Chevron & Entergy… I became a best-selling author of “Currencies of Life” a book I wrote sharing my journey of healing using all my life experiences to help others.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I am now determined to help others to be debt-free financially, spiritually and emotionally. Sharing my lessons to inspire and provide hope that, despite life challenges, we can come out as a winner. We can all rewrite the ending of our story no matter what the beginning and middle of it looked like, and live an American Dream that we desire for ourselves.
I have taken steps to make things happen as opposed to just wishing for them. I want to be an example for my kids and others that no matter what happens in life, you can always take an opportunity to improve and heal, and don’t let life adversities or past pains define our today and tomorrow.
You have first hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you suggest to improve the system?
It has been a long time since I have dealt with immigration department. Last time it was in 2015 when I obtained my US citizenship and that was 9 years prior I handled my immigration process when I moved to the US for the first time.
My husband and I did handle all the paperwork ourselves without involving lawyers. Our experience with the immigration process was fairly straightforward, as long as you follow the direction of the application process and everything is legal, things usually are not too complicated.
I understand that sometimes things may not move as fast as we desire as individuals but we have to keep in mind that the government tries their best to keep US citizens safe and follow all the guidelines and procedures as best as they can.
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
- “Be confident and proud about where you came from”.
People often assume I am Chinese because of my Asian look, but if they are speaking to me over the phone, they assume I am from Russia because of my accent. It is okay to share your background and educate the ones who do not know much about your country or where you came from.
2. “Believe in yourself”, especially if you want to re-establish your professional career you left behind in your home country.
When I first started looking for a job, assumptions were that I wouldn’t be able to find a job I desire because I didn’t have a degree obtained in the US, plus having an accent didn’t help. However, after fully understanding that I must believe in myself, I was able to find jobs that I wanted.
3. “Be confident in your accent” because you speak more than one language even if it may not be the best initially.
I did struggle with worrying about my accent, and people not wanting to cooperate with me in my job talking behind my back. However, I politely and persistently continued to do my work and openly offered them to correct my English since it was a self-taught language for me after all. People started being more understanding and cooperative. I think sometimes we project our own confidence level in others so own it and continue to improve.
4. “Know exactly what you want in life and go after it”.
I found myself falling into life status quos and found myself unhappy and depleted. However, as soon as I made a decision regarding what exactly I want in my life, things started making more sense which led me to find my fulfillment in all areas of my life especially emotionally and spiritually.
5. “Use the land of opportunity for your own and your legacy’s benefit”.
America surely provides many opportunities and convenience. Regardless of where we are born or what class we are born into, we can attain our own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone. Despite how you arrived in the US, whether to pursue business ideas, follow your love story like I did, or to find refuge based on various circumstances you face, make sure to maximize all the great things this land offers to us.
We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?
- Innovation — It is fascinating to see how many innovations improved the convenience of life for many as well as creating more jobs.
- Medicine, especially in prevention of disease — Even though at times feels like the pharmacy industry is selling sickness, the US surely has greater medical facilities to help people compared to some other countries and provide the best care as long as we are covered with the right health insurance.
- Future generations — It seems like nowadays younger generations are more advanced in knowledge and ideas than we used to be, so I am optimistic that with bright young adults and new immigrants coming to the US things will continue to get better.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Well, this is a tough question to answer because I have never been a star-struck kind of person, however, I would love to meet to learn and connect from an experience perspective. Let me mention a few names to have breakfast or lunch with based on the subject matter if opportunity presents.
- Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey because I am into leading a debt-free life so it would be awesome to connect with leaders in my industry that are ahead of me as far as helping many people. Always nice to hear and learn from more experienced experts.
- From Entertainers: Jennifer Lopez because I love people who leverage various skill sets to grow in their profession. She is not only a dancer, singer, actor and many more but a parent like me as well. I love to leverage all the skill sets so that is why I am attracted to meet Jennifer if opportunity presents itself.
- From Spiritual perspective I would love to meet Joyce Meyer and Creflo Dollar. I love their teachings, what they do to help others and impact people for the better.
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
Your Savings Pro web page is www.yoursavingspro.com where you can learn more about me and follow my journey.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Thank you for the opportunity to share my story with you. I may have come to the US in the pursuit of Love but I Am Living Proof of the American Dream now.