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.

2007 Student Leader: Missy Blakeley

Class of 2007

Simon Belsham

Did the tree really notice me? Last summer I stood high-up in the shady branches of a giant African Baobab in Botswana, feeling so small in the presence of something so grand and old.

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Kasia Biezychudek

My parents would not allow the weight of the iron curtain to hide my stage. Suitcase in hand, they uprooted their lives in Poland and started over to give my brother Piotr and me opportunities they never had.

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Aditya Bindal

Win.

I want to win my family's safety, by never failing to protect them.

I want to win humility, by never forgetting that I come from Gwalior - a small, obscure Indian town.

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Noah Broadsky

Make people smile. And laugh and play, and have wonderful vacations they never forget. I am going to build resorts that bring people together. Places that strengthen the love in families and the bonds of friendship.

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Ebony Cambridge

I want to cook callaloo and crab every Sunday just like women in Trinidad did when it was all they had, and not a local delicacy.

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Rishi Chandna

I will live in the present.

I will push myself as hard as I can every day. I will pack a bit less and endure a bit more.

I will sometimes do things that don't make sense.

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Leslie Feinzaig

I no longer have big dreams. I have little dreams; simple, happy, cozy dreams. Most professors urge you to think big – all except my marketing teacher, who said: "Think Little".

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Walter Frye

I will start each day without hitting the snooze button, taking a few moments every morning to think about how I can leave a positive imprint on the world before returning to bed.

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Margarita Golod

I want to have the courage to ask questions. Serious questions, embarrassing questions, aspirational questions, even silly questions. The power of questions is undeniable.

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Kirsten Hassert

I will unleash my own Inner Spiderman...with his motto: "With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility." I'll keep believing in the power of People, of 'Small' Things, and of Being Real – and use this to empower myself and teammates to achieve.

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Daniel Hong

I want to be constantly scolded for not having grown up. I want to be told how immature and childish I am after all these years. I want to accumulate even more injuries for attempting things that my body can no longer do.

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Erica Hunt

Learn to say, "So what, that's just me"... and mean it.

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Toby Johnson

My father died in June.

One of the last things he did, was see me FLY... literally.

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Zameer Kassam

When they say "with this ring, I thee wed," I will be there.

When they want to show their daughter how proud they are, I will be there.

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Ryan Kauppila

"When you laugh, everyone laughs with you. Cry, and cry alone. So you best put a grin on that face right now!" No matter the circumstance or tragedy, those were my grandma's words of 'comfort'.

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Harman Kochar

If life could be planned I would have already – • Eradicated Poverty from the World • Controlled Global Warming • Established World Peace • Cured all Diseases

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Clint Lawrence

I peek over the edge.

I can no longer see the white sand of the sea bed.

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Janice Lin

I have an insatiable need for speed. There's never enough time to do everything I'd like, but I aspire to be inhuman and accomplish the maximum within the short time I know is left.

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Sharon Liszanckie

Twist what HBS taught about aspirational marketing, NOT to sell luxury goods, but to illustrate "goods" aren't important, what you do for others is.

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Rebecca McKillican

I will always post my letters. Handwritten, colorful, shiny letters.

The excitement of receiving mail during my summers at camp has never been forgotten.

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Heather McLetchie-Leader

We are blessed to be blessings...

I almost didn't make it. At 17 I dropped out of high school and by 19, teenage motherhood stood poised to knock me even further out of the game.

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Alexandra Rethore

I am a proud 'Auntie' to six nieces and nephews, whose legs, confidence, and imaginations are growing like weeds. Each approaches life, in all its small, peculiar details, with curiosity and purpose.

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Jorge Roberts

A 7-year old boy stands on his grandmother's balcony with the Mexican flag across his chest while he imagines he is the president delivering a speech to millions of people.

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Robert Schwartz

I will fight contentment.
I want to be happy, of course. But not content. Never content.

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Brian Shaw

Live outdoors.

Drink freshly squeezed orange juice. Let food cook slowly on the grill.

Tell the ocean what worries me. Listen to the sunset.

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Bianca Tabourn

I want to sometimes fall short of people's Super Woman expectations of me. It will remind everyone I am only human.

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Jialei Tian

Live in fear of failure – unable to wholeheartedly realize my potentials and relentlessly pursue my dream.

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Sunru Yong

My first car was a cornflower blue 1981 Chevrolet Citation. Free life lesson here, kids: don't ever market a car using a name synonymous with "moving violation."

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Peggy Yu

I will close my eyes. Take a deep breath. And leap.
Conscious. Deliberate. Aware. And yes... maybe scared.

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Jiao Zhang

The ruler snapped on my knuckles. "Girls dream of being wives not mathematicians." Another rant from the school teacher in front of my class.

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