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?

Concept and photography: Tony Deifell, '02

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Read people's comments about the Portrait Project.

Concept and photography: Tony Deifell, '02
2009 Student Leaders: Jeanine Barnett, Kristin Meyer, Thomas Rajan, and Zack Surak

Class of 2009

Rick Armbrust

An F! I didn't want to believe it. Just as I was trying to forget a disastrous semester, the Registrar wanted to give me one last reminder.

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Rye Barcott

I quoted a military general in my high school yearbook. I wanted to be a Marine. I sensed how fortunate I was to be born where I was, when I was.

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Jeanine Barnett

You don't walk away unscathed from an accident where the Greyhound bus you are on crashes into an 18-wheeler — killing and injuring all but a handful.

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Mohit Bathija

I, a diminutive nine year-old child of nothing but skin and bones wearing my stained shorts and torn shirt was standing in line at Siddhi Vinayak Temple in Bombay.

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Jordan Bazinsky

One day, I will build a crib from scratch. It will feature stained wood for style and monster truck-sized tires for performance, just in case we need to move it around.

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Nina Bilimoria

I hear an ambulance siren at 2 AM, and I think, "Someone's family is having a horrible day."

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Marwan Chaar

I grew up in a region synonymous with two things: Energy and Islam. Both have recently been threatened, and both will have to adapt in order to survive.

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Brian Elliot

I remember sitting against a tree at summer camp listening intently to a counselor who, with her guitar, taught me a song that I still sing to myself every day.

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Allison Floam

Once I start... I literally can't stop. Laughing, that is. Everyone who knows me or has been in class with me has experienced one of these uncontrollable outbursts.

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Jason George

My grandmother was born in a remote village at the dawn of the twentieth century. Married in her late teens, she was widowed in her early twenties, with two young sons.

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Melanie Harris

In ten years, don't ask my title or in twenty tally up my board seats. In thirty years, don't count the commas in my net worth.

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Lindsay Jurist-Rosner

My recurring dream is far from a nightmare, thank god. The dream actually varies quite dramatically but the common element is flying.

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Meredith Lobel

Stand in the wind. Face forward. Fearless. Flexible.

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Umaimah Mendhro

>My home-village, Akri, the place my father was born... is where I slept under mosquito net covered hand-woven beds and rode on ox-carts to nearby, barren fields.

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Kristin Meyer

Everywhere I look, I see miracles. They manifest themselves delightfully in the tiny details of my everyday life.

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Maureen Monagle-Miller

I will never completely grow up.

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Rosita Najmi

"Behold the candle, how it gives light. It weeps its life away drop by drop in order to give forth its flame."

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Michael Newton

My dad blogs. A lot. One of his favorite topics is, for better or worse, me.

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Marlene Ngoyi

I once dreamt of becoming a film-maker. When asked why, I often justified my aspiration with elaborate arguments in order to convince the skeptics.

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Karibu Nyaggah

Frolicking in the sun. Puddle-jumping in the rain. Teasing my sisters. Feasting on dessert. Sipping tea. Family vacations on white sandy beaches. This was my childhood in Kenya.

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Marc Oman

The rhythm of chirping Blackberries. Students running from classes to meetings to a ringtone that never ends.

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Faya Peng

I want to be a servant. To show compassion. To love.

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Thomas Rajan

I believe I can fly. Comfortably. And so should everyone else.

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Randolph Rodrigues

I tread along in the footsteps of those who have accomplished so much with so little.

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Scott Spencer

In my pocket, I carry a Gratitude Rock. When I pick it up in the morning, it reminds me to be grateful for all of the opportunities I've been given.

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Zack Surak

My palms were sweaty. My heart raced. A million questions flew through my mind. Did I do well enough to get in? Would they even want someone like me?

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Jon Swan

I am going to rediscover the buffalo. As a young kid, an elder on my reservation pulled me aside to tell me about the buffalo.

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Aduke Thelwell

I grew up with a deep suspicion of capitalism's inequities. So much so, I have often thought that if my sixteen year-old self could meet me today.

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Jimmy Tran

As a child, I asked questions relentlessly. Why is the sky blue? Why do birds chirp?

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Eduardo Weinstein

It was a perfect day. I was traveling through Peru's valleys, and in my train car there was a group of more than 30 elderly friends — men and women in their 70s.

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Jonathan Wilkins

Life is a marathon I am ready to run. I will retrieve the torch of ministry to serve.

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Paul Yeh

I am friends with the local police in four states and seven counties.

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