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
2010 Student Leaders: John Coleman, Assaf Harlap, Esther Hsu, and Mantazh Khanna

Class of 2010

Yaw Agyenim-Boateng

One of my mentors put it this way: Humanity is counting not only on us but on those who we help to thrive and blossom in our wake.

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Rebecca Arnold

Karaoke. I bring a lot to the microphone: enthusiasm, excellent song selection, volume-but not vocal talent per se.

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Glenn Bean

I aspire to be like a chef, and to have a few courses in the adventure of life.

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Josh Bronstein

When I swung from the trapeze for the first time at sleep-away camp in the summer of 1993, I decided I wanted to join the circus.

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Jamie Chang

I want to heal. Scanning the room in this make-shift clinic, we were surrounded by patients wasting away from diseases we knew how to cure, and patients suffering from disabilities we knew how to fix.

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Patrick Chun

My grandfather taught me best. A former South Korean general who even through his eighties would wake up before sunrise to start his day.

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John Coleman

As a blond-haired little boy growing up in Tallahassee, Florida, my earliest memories were of my mom reading to me every day in our living room.

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James Corcoran

Think strategically. Invest for the long term. Build sustainable institutions.

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Nathalie du Preez

When I was three years old, my dad made me a pair of wooden wings and told me that if I practiced enough I could learn how to fly.

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Kristen Forecki

Kindness changed my life. As an insecure fifteen-year-old, I felt invisible in the chorus of a summer-theatre program.

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Assaf Harlap

Too overweight to ever be chosen for football practice, uninspired by school, dealing with a family divorce and spending several unforgettable days in a bomb shelter.

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Ali Hashmi

It took me a while to realize that the future I was chasing was the one I was "expected" to have, not the one I was destined for.

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Max Hodges

More people need art: the thick, anguished brush strokes of a Van Gogh; the high soaring notes of an overture; the whisper and promise of an opening curtain.

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Esther Hsu

My memory fails me. It does not retain the precious details of days past. I must rely on the thousands of photographs that document the moments I hold dear.

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Lily Hayes Kaufman

It is the first punch of the night, and it is an absolute knockout. "7-8-9-10" I am a champion.

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Caren Kelleher

My great-grandmother, a Swedish immigrant, left her homeland at the age of twenty to pursue her American dream; my grandmother, a WWII nurse, outranked her own husband in the Army.

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Tanya Khakbaz

Say yes. When I was an undergraduate, I took an improvisation class on a whim. It completely changed my life. Improv has only one rule: say yes.

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Mantazh Khanna

I will not let go of my yellow work boots and hard hat.

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Kishan Madamala

I really loved our green lawn mower. It broke when I was four years old, and I cried as my dad tried to throw it away.

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Stephanie Parker

I stood behind a wall of bananas, a fortress of fruit erected for the thousands of people participating in my volunteer event.

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Lisandra Rickards

I'm in love with my island. I am inspired there, I know the people there, I want to raise a family there, I want to make a difference there.

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Debbie Rosenbaum

One of my earliest memories of my grandfather and great-grandfather is of their business banter - kvetching about los negocios.

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Matt Segneri

I fancy myself a detective. Growing up, I sure was a confident little investigator. I had all the answers. I knew exactly where in the world Carmen Sandiego was.

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Abhi Sharma

I plan to change the odds. So there I was, procrastinating while trying to finish Friday's cases, when out of idle curiosity I decided to find out who else from back home had walked these halls.

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Monica Sharma

It began with a pack of Legos from a McDonald's Happy Meal. A few plastic blocks were meant to be a helicopter, but I quickly transformed them into a multipurpose vehicle - a boat and time machine.

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JJ Singh

I want to live generationally. I want to preserve the American Dream.

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Nick Soman

My business card is perfect. Crisp white edges, soft laminate, sweeping font And a tuft of golden retriever hair stuck to the back with wine.

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Jennifer Tom

Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman. As a child, I recall watching my adored superheroes day after day as they saved the world without fail.

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Daniella Yacobovsky

Visiting has become harder as his memory slips away. First short-term memory faded, and then long-term memory followed, and finally my name.

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Jodi Yang

Boston is where I come to die and be reborn. At seventeen I came to mourn the death of my first love - music - and my grandfather.

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Alicia Yoon

I fell in love when I was eight. I flew off the 1-meter springboard for the first time and my heart burst with excitement. I knew then that I would dedicate my life to diving.

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Linda Zhang

I am in Beijing, in the hush of the sterile hospital room. I walk towards my grandfather, his shrunken figure battered by Parkinson's. The great statesman, once larger than life, now fights for the mere ability to speak.

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