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?
Class of 2002
Modern medical technology gave me a chance to be happy and healthy when I was young.
Family and film. These are the ways I will ensure that the legacy of R. Lincoln Alabaster lives on long after I'm gone.
I want to transcend individual success; I want to create and share success with others.
Since college, many seem to think of me as just "..." But I see things a bit differently. Literally, my first name means hope —
I want to inspire the cooperative instincts of people - ideally at first in business, later in public and community life, but always in family.
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.
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...
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.
I want to "dream out loud." Bono said it best at U2's now famous New Year's Night concert in 1989 Dublin.
The edge is where fear ends and faith begins. With these words replaying in my mind as a rhythmic chant, I went skydiving.
I plan to eat peaches
sing loudly in the street
laugh belly-aching laughs
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.
I've lived in six different countries; four of them are home to some of the world's poorest people.
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."
When you see me at the league soccer games, I'll be the one with the HP calculator and the orange wedges.
I came to Harvard Business School hoping to find answers, but will leave only with questions.
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.
When I was twelve years old I wrote my life aspirations in the back of a journal.
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.
"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
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.
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.
Have you ever been to Carnaval? I traveled to Salvador, Brazil, to witness (okay, okay, and participate in) the debauchery and mindlessness.
When I tell people I want to run an employment program for homeless drug addicts, many think I'm absolutely crazy.
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.
Each day I aspire to...
Have the courage to take the personal and professional risks necessary to pursue my dreams
Money is the most important thing in life. Well, not actually, but if you're poor it can make a difference.
"Once you jump, you're already dead. Now change the outcome," said my jumpmaster when I completed my first skydiving solo jump.
I'm jealous. I've always been envious of my friends who knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives.
Ignorance made my grandmother a young widow; the unwitting victim of culture clash.
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;
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."
In my lifetime I want to
- question everything always
- feel the "first kiss tingles" every time I kiss
I want to start life over or, at least, re-acquire the lens that I had as a child.
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,
As a little girl, I wanted to...
stand on my toes and twirl in the lights … I still do.
Maybe I'm an eternal optimist or maybe I'm just naive, but I believe one person can make a difference in this life.
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.
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?
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.
I shall savor the time I am given, for it is not the destination that makes life meaningful but moments along the way.
I would like to write a book filled with love, comedy, episodes of tragedy, and obstacles that are heroically overcome.
I want to stay awake at work. Seriously, I want to create a challenging, fulfilling career that will always keep me engaged.
In the sixth grade I wrote, "If I had a million dollars I would buy a new wardrobe."
I have worked hard to define for myself what I consider to be a life without regret, that is, a successful life.
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.
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.
We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other with us.
"Drive a red Porsche" is probably what I would have responded 15 years ago.
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.
I did not imagine that I could be a successful student until a fourth grade teacher showed me a better way to study.
When I graduated from high school, I made a list of the things I wanted to do before I turned thirty.
Act as an agent for enthusiasm, passion, and ethics in the organizations I join and earn the right to lead others in business.
"Dream big!" was the advice that Kirsten Moss, HBS admissions director, gave us at the welcome address in January 2001.
There are two ways to live: one as if nothing were a gift, the other as if everything were.
'Be passionate. Life is an adventure-play hard! Seek your edge. Closer to fine, baby!'
"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."
Six years ago, I left Bulgaria to come to the land of endless opportunities, the United States.
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.