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, "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 2004
"Omar, in life you have been given every gift, have opened every door you could ever hope for," I was told recently by a friend I have know half my life, during an uncharacteristic crisis of confidence.
I want to live in the moment while striving to make tomorrow's moments more promising.
To start, I intend to feel energized each morning – not grouchy, not stressed, not depressed.
I remember sitting in my grandmother's Brooklyn kitchen as a kid while she prepared little-meatball soup and stuffed artichokes and told me stories of her childhood in Agropoli, Italy.
I wasn't ready. I never will be ready. Her laughter, her smiling eyes, her wit, her warmth, her strength; I wasn't ready to live without them. When I lost my mother I felt a huge vacuum in my life.
My grandmother is 103, and she is always quick to remind me, "it's not about having what you want; it's about wanting what you have."
Bring worlds together through food. Create brands that brighten lunch boxes and delight grocery aisles. Produce advertising and labels that tell the truth.
I still remember how depressed I was when studying China Modern History in the middle school.
I grew up as the eldest child of immigrant parents who chose to live out the American dream in the oddest of places, Oklahoma City.
I will be daring.
I will dare the world...
to change the way it sees itself
and its fringes.
i want to create wealth
through poetry, passion and performance
fulfill decades of unfilled entrepreneurial dreams of inner city tenants
build success for descendants of slaves, laborers, refugee immigrants
Allocate time and energy to initiatives for the primary benefit of my beloved South Africa
Leave a lasting impression on someone that has doubted the capabilities of people that look like me.
Seven years ago, I traveled from Bogotá to Buenos Aires, mostly by land.
Clarice Lispector used the occasion of New Year's Day, 1968 to remind an adoring Brazilian public that "salvation is achieved by taking risks, without which life is worthless."
"Denis, there's no free lunch"! I was quite disappointed when I heard that motto from my FIN prof.
I want to keep the sparkle in the eyes of my three glorious children. And others.
My memory of childhood is filled with carrots - relatively cheap, good for eyesight.
In an isolated, desolate leper village in Vietnam, I observed a small child.
It took a moment of profound despair for me to grasp what Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "in our youth our hearts were touched with fire... given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing."
Ten years ago, sitting in a cramped, unheated kitchen in my family's apartment on the outskirts of Kiev, I wrote the closing paragraph of my college application essay: "I like to be a small part in a huge machine that is called human civilization, a part with a great potential that may someday change the entire principle of its functioning."