Portrait Project


Each year we ask our classmates a straightforward, simple question taken from the last lines of a poem by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Mary Oliver. We share with you intimate and candid responses to this question, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

The Summer Day

by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean -
the one who has flung herself
  out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out
  of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and
  forth instead of up and down -
who is gazing around with her
  enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and
  thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open,
  and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,
  how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down
  in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how
  to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Send Comments/Questions.
Read people's comments about the Portrait Project.

2002 Student Leaders: Dominique Baillet, Clive Chang

Class of 2002

Sally Aaron

Modern medical technology gave me a chance to be happy and healthy when I was young.

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Prash Agarwal

Like many here, I want to make my million and have the best family life.

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Shalini Aggarwal

I want to empower others through education.

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Lincoln Alabaster

Family and film. These are the ways I will ensure that the legacy of R. Lincoln Alabaster lives on long after I'm gone.

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Arturo Alvarez Demalde

I want to transcend individual success; I want to create and share success with others.

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Imran Amed

I don't try to fit in anymore.

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Anonymous

Since college, many seem to think of me as just "A Banker..." But I see things a bit differently. Literally, my first name means hope —

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Alfredo Arreba

I have one clear professional objective in life: not to go unnoticed.

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Bill Berrien

I want to inspire the cooperative instincts of people - ideally at first in business, later in public and community life, but always in family.

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Gary Binford

My life is a song that must be sung, "We Make Our Living by What We Get, Our Lives by What We Give," singing a beautiful melody that touches the lives of many.

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Phil Black

5-year plan (pre-HBS)

  • start a business with two HBS classmates
  • grow sales to $500 million in first three years
  • IPO within 5 years...

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Ian Blasco

I want to build a successful career. For me that means success with a small firm where I am able either to run the firm or otherwise gain autonomy over an area within the company.

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Lisa Bourne

I want to "dream out loud." Bono said it best at U2's now famous New Year's Night concert in 1989 Dublin.

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Makyha-Tiana Bowles

The edge is where fear ends and faith begins. With these words replaying in my mind as a rhythmic chant, I went skydiving.

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Alexa Brownell

I plan to eat peaches
     catch fireflies 
          sing loudly in the street 
               laugh belly-aching laughs 

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John Brown

I want to fail well.

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Gad Caspy

I plan to have a smile on my face at least 30% of the time.

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Joan Cheng

The hardest thing for me is to be number two.

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Jeff Chochinov

Like many Canadians, I didn't feel that patriotic until coming to the US, and this was not brought on just from the numerous currency and pronunciation jokes.

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Patrick Chung

I am the repository of my parents' hopes and dreams.

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Mark Cicirelli

When I was a kid I blew the fuse in my parents' house-a lot.

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Ipsita Dasgupta

I've lived in six different countries; four of them are home to some of the world's poorest people.

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Tony Deifell

I used to teach photography to blind and visually impaired students.

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Lou DiLorenzo

I want to repay my debt.

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Michael Echenberg

In the middle of October in 1921, Franz Kafka wrote in his diary, "Life's splendor forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come."

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Rebecca Edwards

When you see me at the league soccer games, I'll be the one with the HP calculator and the orange wedges.

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Graham Evans

I came to Harvard Business School hoping to find answers, but will leave only with questions.

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Jose Fernandez

The best things in my life were never carefully planned: I was lucky to be born to a great family, came by chance to the US, certainly did not grow up wishing to go to Harvard, and only by chance found someone to love at HBS.

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Jessica Gelman

When I was twelve years old I wrote my life aspirations in the back of a journal.

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Kari Gerster

I am opportunistic - I figure it out as I go along. In high school, I did not predict that I'd spend college studying art and literature in the Berkshire Mountains.

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Marie-Laure Goepfer

"I want everything, right now, and I want it all. I do not want to be modest and just be happy with a little piece if I behave well. I want everything to be as beautiful as when I was a child - or die."
- Antigone, Jean Anouilh

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Martin Gonzalez

I used to believe that my purpose in this world was to conquer it. I planned to have a successful career in high tech and quickly become an expert in my field.

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Tedi Gouneva

I want to have it ALL. Maybe a few years ago, maybe even months ago I would have said that career is what matters most, but since I found the "right person" my view of what is most important has changed.

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Sasha Grinshpun

Have you ever been to Carnaval? I traveled to Salvador, Brazil, to witness (okay, okay, and participate in) the debauchery and mindlessness.

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Nicole Hanrahan

When I tell people I want to run an employment program for homeless drug addicts, many think I'm absolutely crazy.

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Rejji Hayes

I want to do great things in my lifetime. I am not exactly sure how to define the word "great" at the moment, but I guess that is one of life's most intriguing challenges.

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Brooke Heckert

Each day I aspire to...
Have the courage to take the personal and professional risks necessary to pursue my dreams

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Philia Hiotis

Money is the most important thing in life. Well, not actually, but if you're poor it can make a difference.

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Michael Holt

"Once you jump, you're already dead. Now change the outcome," said my jumpmaster when I completed my first skydiving solo jump.

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Dionne Hosten

I'm jealous. I've always been envious of my friends who knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives.

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Stephen Johnston

Ignorance made my grandmother a young widow; the unwitting victim of culture clash.

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Aliya Kanji

I may have a superhuman expectation but it's okay to dream...

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Lucas Klein

I want to change the world.

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Marijana Kolak

Looking back, I feel the paths worth taking were those I followed with my heart: my trip to the US eleven years ago; the long journey later from a 300-people village in the Idaho wilderness to a small Midwestern town and to the nation's capital;

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Dan Koloski

My biggest problem has always been that I want to do everything. Nobody ever forced me to, but I have never been good at saying "no."

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Cecily Kovatch

I want to have no regrets.

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Ade' Lawal

I hope to accomplish great things.

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Mira Lee

In my lifetime I want to

  • question everything always
  • feel the "first kiss tingles" every time I kiss

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Richard Linder

I want to start life over or, at least, re-acquire the lens that I had as a child.

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Michael Linse

You know those moments when something in your life goes very right, whether it's by your own doing or by a God-given stroke of luck,

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Arielle Loeb

I want whatever I do to make my socks go up and down.

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Emily Love

As a little girl, I wanted to...
stand on my toes and twirl in the lights … I still do.

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David Malinas

Maybe I'm an eternal optimist or maybe I'm just naive, but I believe one person can make a difference in this life.

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Val Mendeleev

I cannot stand still. Having moved across dozens of countries and industries, I want to continue discovering the world and not ever be bored or a marginal person.

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Sisto Merolla

What if I...

kiss my mom and dad goodnight every time I visit them?

whisper "I love you, Pici" to Giuliana every time I think it?

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Meka Millstone

I hope to act like a big yellow highlighter, helping others (and reminding myself) to focus on the important things in life: love, laughter, health, wealth (of all kinds), and happiness.

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Arnab Mishra

I shall savor the time I am given, for it is not the destination that makes life meaningful but moments along the way.

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Kevin Mohr

I would like to write a book filled with love, comedy, episodes of tragedy, and obstacles that are heroically overcome.

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Keyne Monson

I want to stay awake at work. Seriously, I want to create a challenging, fulfilling career that will always keep me engaged.

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Sarah Mullen

I plan to CREATE...

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David Nathanielsz

I've never wanted to set my future down in stone.

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Rod Norman

My life goal is to take the Civil Rights Movement to a new level!

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Mardie Oakes

In the sixth grade I wrote, "If I had a million dollars I would buy a new wardrobe."

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Xavier Paternot

I want to build things and blow them up.

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Carl Petty

I look at the rest of my life as one big bonus round.

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Mark Plunkett

I have worked hard to define for myself what I consider to be a life without regret, that is, a successful life.

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Marie-Anne Popp

I am an adventurer.

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Rohit Pursram

"To find fulfillment, don't exist with life. Embrace it."
- Jim Beggs

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Anand Radhakrishnan

Business school is a means to an end. But what end?

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Douglas Raymond

I am trying to live my life to minimize regret: I want to live so I will never have to look back and wonder what might have been.

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David Reinke

I plan to continue to laugh and play with my beautiful Michele, the woman with the blue eyes and the crazy curly brown hair, the girl I have loved since before I knew her.

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Alex Rogers

All my life I have waited for my life to start.

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Julie Russell

We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other with us.

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Alok Sanghvi

"Drive a red Porsche" is probably what I would have responded 15 years ago.

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Kathleen Schlaff

You never ever know what is around the corner.

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Kim Scott

My father forgot what was really important to him until it was too late.

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Dan Shanoff

My "H-Bomb" is "house-husband."

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Nick Shurgot

I read a story recently about a troubled young man from the inner-city who had turned his life around and was set to be the first person in his family to graduate from college.

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Paul Sternhell

I did not imagine that I could be a successful student until a fourth grade teacher showed me a better way to study.

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Meg Stern

When I graduated from high school, I made a list of the things I wanted to do before I turned thirty.

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Wei Su

I don't have a firm belief in next life, although would not mind having one.

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Brian Tockman

It's simple.

Act as an agent for enthusiasm, passion, and ethics in the organizations I join and earn the right to lead others in business.

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Paul Tranter

Never-ending challenge is the secret to a successful and satisfying life.

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Tiberius Vadan

"Dream big!" was the advice that Kirsten Moss, HBS admissions director, gave us at the welcome address in January 2001.

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Cristian van Tienhoven

Answers are overrated.

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Guillermo Villanueva

There are two ways to live: one as if nothing were a gift, the other as if everything were.

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Heidi von Allmen

'Be passionate. Life is an adventure-play hard! Seek your edge. Closer to fine, baby!'

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Frank Wei

"Men wanted: For hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success."

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Svet Yordanova

Six years ago, I left Bulgaria to come to the land of endless opportunities, the United States.

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Rick Zednik

I used to dream about burning the midnight oil, crafting sentences that would be tough enough to expose graft and yet responsible enough to be fair to those in the spotlight.

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Curt Zimmermann

Since I started my professional career, I have been planning every step of my life.

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