California Forum

Watch out, world: The Dragon Babies are graduating from high school this year

Gene Laoyan, right, celebrates with his son Generoso Vaughn Laoyan, left, after his graduation from Sheldon High School at Golden One Center in Sacramento on Wednesday, May 23, 2018.
Gene Laoyan, right, celebrates with his son Generoso Vaughn Laoyan, left, after his graduation from Sheldon High School at Golden One Center in Sacramento on Wednesday, May 23, 2018.

Congratulations high school graduates, Class of 2018. You are destined for success because many of you were born in 2000, the “Year of the Dragon.” You are a dragon child and carry good fortune and the burden of expectation to accomplish much in your life. You will make us all proud.

According to the Chinese zodiac, “dragon babies” are predestined for great prosperity. They are ambitious, superb leaders, bright and driven to realize their dreams. They have endless energy, charming and glamorous. Of all the 12 zodiac signs, this one is often highly sought after and admired. (Other years of such karma include: 1976, 1988 and 2012).

Researchers Noel Johnson and John Nye of George Mason University have found some truth to this superstition. They examined Asian Americans born in the dragon year of 1976 and compared them to others and found they had higher education levels and potentially greater income and prosperity. But their success may have had more to do with parents and a support team than simply sheer luck.

If you were born into a family who valued a “dragon baby,” parents often encouraged that child to work harder and excel. Their status became an identity marker. If you believed you were special, it led to greater self confidence and created a pathway for triumph. (Think of the current high school pathway programs: Students are “chosen” and labeled as potentially successful, so they strive to meet our and their own standards of achievement.)

A self-fulfilling prophecy is then created. Acceptance of predestination feeds ambition. A selection bias sends the message that you are one of the select few. You are treated differently by others. You are nudged towards greater attainment. That’s why at this year’s graduation ceremonies, we watch this class of high school seniors with much anticipation. You are the investment for the future.

Asian American families who adopted a dragon vision tended to be more modern, richer and more secure. They had the capacity and resources to support these children. Many were recent immigrants who also sought to reclaim their cultural heritage by embracing the zodiac horoscope and the kismet of a valuable and powerful sign. They did not want to lose the traditions of their family and culture: They embraced part of their past and injected it into their fortunes here in America.

In Asian countries, some officials had feared a huge surge in babies born in the years of 2000 and 2012. Economists thought adversities could occur. Because of a birth boom, these children would face overcrowded hospitals at delivery. As they matured into adults and entered the labor pool, they would face more competition and lower wages. A “crowding affect” could impede these dragons.

Yet in most cases, this did not happen. In order to support your “dragon baby,” you had to have resources. Many poor families, lacking capacity, simply ignored zodiac signs. Their children were no different than others.

Such high expectations can also place too much stress on a child. They may revolt and fail. They may not have an internal capacity to overachieve and thus feel their birth year as a burden. It ignores who you really are and what you want to do.

Yet I can’t help wanting to affirm others, even if it’s based on a superstition. So to the high school Class of 2018, go out into the world and conquer. What’s wrong with that conjecture and speculation? If I believe, perhaps you will too.

Consider the story of Chloe Kim, the recent Olympic gold medalist in snowboarding, Her father was Korean and accepted the inevitability that his daughter would be victorious. During the competition, he says he reminded her by text that “this is time to be dragon.”

I salute you high school graduates. You will move on to achieve much. You are destined because you are “dragon children.”

David Mas Masumoto is an organic farmer near Fresno and author of several books including “Epitaph for a Peach.” He can be contacted at