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.

2003 Student Leader: Jean Hayden

Class of 2003

Derek Aframe

Be curious - never stop asking questions

But remain open-minded and heed all suggestions.

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Lyn Baranowski

At age 15, I spent the summer as an exchange student in France, and the world of a small-town girl from New Hampshire opened up.

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Edrienne Brandon

I want to max out on every moment of every day.

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Heidi Brooks

Be happy. Eat mangoes. Pursue my passions. Sing in the stairwell. Laugh like a hyena.

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Lea Carpenter

English author E.M. Forster wrote a mantra for the Moderns; it was this: "only connect."

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Elizabeth Chang

Like many people here
I've spent the most of my years
Preparing for my future
Deciding on my career.

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Laurent Chenot

When I was a child, I wanted to be an actor, a secret agent, a novelist, a mathematician, a psychoanalyst, a magician and maybe, live in the jungle with gorillas.

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Rev. Tom Doyle

Financial theory suggests that debt creates value. So,
I want to spend my life accumulating more debt...

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Charles Duhigg

Sometimes I go blind. Just partially. They're called visual migraines.

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David Frankel

Ethics of the Fathers: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?"

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Jean Hayden

When we came to Harvard Business School we had to squash our lives onto a one-page resume.

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Joshua Jarrett

I want to always remember the number 6.65 million.

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John Kelleher

I want to help make the term "foreign policy" obsolete.

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Claudio Knizek

As I graduate from HBS my goal is not only to lead people, but to lead by inspiring them.

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Lee Koffler

Today, roughly thirteen million refugees struggle to fulfill their basic needs each day.

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Srivatsa Krishna

"Honor and Shame
From No condition rise
Do well thy part
Therein all the honor lies."

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Debbie McCoy

Caterpillars cocoon and turn into butterflies.

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Thomas Nassim

I plan to trek past the border. Through the wastes and wealth of a bewitching and bewildering terra incognita I will travel day by day.

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Jeff Norton

What is your favourite movie?

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Jaynie Randall

Throw out the three- and five- and ten-year plans.

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Masood Razaq

I have always thought of myself as a Man with a Plan.

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Marc Ricks

I will work long hours, endure stress, and use PowerPoint... lots of PowerPoint.

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Douglas Schilliger

In my mind's eye, I was Earnest Shackelton.

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Mora Segal

"When I grow up, I am going to be a judge, a senator... or maybe even president! Oh no you're not, little girl..."

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Chirag Shah

A single, impoverished mother, only 15 years old, gave birth to the first baby I delivered in medical school.

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Stacy Sonnenberg

I want to be brave enough to follow my heart in all things.

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Scott St.Germain

We all yearn for people to emulate in life.

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Yael Taqqu

I want to be a storyteller.

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Mathew Turner

"...to whom much is given, much will be required..." Luke 12:48

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Peter Tynan

I have already been blessed to live a wild and precious life.

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