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?

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Read people's comments about the Portrait Project.

2006 Student Leaders: Dominique Baillet, Clive Chang, Michael Lage, and Shahar Ziv

Class of 2006

Tanveer Abbas

As a 10 year old, all I wanted to do in life was grow up to be an adult - that way, at dinner parties, my mother couldn't keep sending me away to play with the younger kids.

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Monica Gupta Adractas

I am living the life of a five year old girl I have never met. A stranger I imagine. She has pigtails, is dirty, poor, and is busy fetching water in the slums of India.

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Inigo Amoribieta

I plan to travel far.

Our world today is one of superstar athletes, teenage popstars, business executives, news reporters, and central bankers.

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Hope Carlson

I learned to sing at the same time I learned to talk. My dad would rock me to sleep every night and have me fill in the words to his lullabies. That's when my love for music was first sparked.

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Kelly Cheng

I am always running. Running to submit that HBS application at the eleventh hour. Racing to Aldrich for class. Sprinting to deliver my résumé to recruiters.

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Natalie C Eckford

Get mud in between my toes, dirt under my fingernails and sing the blues.

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Alison Fournier

At birth in 1916 my Grandfather weighed 1 lb. His makeshift crib was a shoebox and his incubator the family oven.

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Raphael Geismar

I want to be a restless farmer.

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Sadiq Gillani

"Good, better, best.
Never let it rest.
Until your good is better.
And your better best."

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Monica Haugen

I still constantly look around and think, "I am so different from these people." Although I crossed no ocean to get here, it feels as though I crossed something even bigger - a social and economic divide.

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Mark Kahn

I plan to repay my debts, for I live a highly-leveraged life.

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Arnaud Karsenti

The alarm rings at 6:00 AM on a Tuesday morning and I am in bed staring at the ceiling. My eyes open wide as my personal hard drive boots up.

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Cindy Kellogg

Laugh. Mostly because I can't help it. Whether I'm happy, tickled, nervous, or surprised, it just springs out of me. And it's contagious.

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PJ Kim

I am the 2005 Pad Thai Eating Champion of Boston. I ate 4 large platters in 30 minutes. My picture hung outside of 9 Tastes Thai Restaurant in Harvard Square for an entire year. I put it on my resume.

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Amer M. Lahham

I am standing on a Jerusalem hilltop, moments from signing the treaty of peace in the Middle East. I look east and I see Palestine, I look west and I see Israel. Accord is finally here.

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Monica Lee

Throw out the five-year plan. Toss out the day planner. Turn my back on the could-ofs, should-ofs, and would-ofs constantly swirling through my head.

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Christopher Maloney

I am the 6-foot-5 white guy who constantly feels out of place.

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Madison Mauze

Live Fully

I want to live each and everyday fully:

To climb high; to reach low extending a helping hand.

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Michael Murphy

"I'm going to be an Olympic diver", I confidently declared as a knock-kneed, chubby 10 year-old. "Sure Mike - go for it", responded my supportive but somewhat sceptical family.

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Anh M. Nguyen

My mom travels with a frying pan. A fifty-cent yard sale purchase, the pan makes the world's best banh xeo, a Vietnamese dish.

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Foluke Otudeko

When I was six I contracted childhood measles and went blind for a number of days.

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Jessica Reid

I'd like to hold many titles throughout my life, MBA, CEO, daughter, sister, aunt, wife, and mother -- but if I had to pick only one, I would choose "Teacher of the Year."

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Jon Rudoe

I am deeply attached to a simple idea:

If every human being can work to make things better in whatever place they have influence then the world will also be a better place.

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Matias Ruiz

Growing up in Argentina with loving parents and finding the love of my life were the strongest things that shaped the person I am today.

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Agnes Sauvage

I want to get high.
I want to edge risk.
I want to climb to remember I am alive.

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Bena Shah

I will hit the snooze button once every morning and

Relish those precious nine minutes standing ahead of REALITY.

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Sarah Sommer

"Your daughter is deaf and she may never read beyond a fourth grade reading level," the doctor told my parents when I was two.

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Maharukh Sorabji

I want to make people feel at home, even if they're thousands of miles away from it.

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Cali Tran

When my mother closed her eyes and jumped from the Saigon docks onto a puttering fishing boat 30 years ago, she had no idea where life was going to take her.

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Chris Williams

"I do not wish to have a thriving career at the expense of my personal life."

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Amy Yamner

In 1999, Lourdes sashayed into my eighth grade classroom. She was, in a word, saucy.

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