“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

In 1999, Lourdes sashayed into my eighth grade classroom. She was, in a word, saucy. A self-identified chismosa, she passed notes and talked incessantly, even during my lessons. It was obvious she did not care about U.S. history.

At the end of the year, however, she asked me to write my email address next to my generic, "good luck in high school," scribbling in her yearbook. And when she got to high school and found the classes harder and the teachers tougher, I got a message from her about her grades and her friends. When Lourdes was a senior, she emailed about applying to college. She would be the first in her family and hoped they would let her go.

In 2004, I started at HBS, and Lourdes entered Cal-State Hayward. Two year later, I still hear how things are going, how she is changing, learning and growing. Like Lourdes, I, too, have changed in many ways, though some things about me will always be the same.

In December of my first year, Professor Josh Margolis handed each of us one white index card. He asked us to write the one word that embodied the way we would like to live our lives. He suggested we put it somewhere we could see it daily, and remember it when we made the decisions that would shape our own lives. My word was COMPASSION.

I want to build schools. My assets will be the lives I have improved, my liabilities the ones I have yet to reach. I want to create value through giving children options. To me, success is not a question of how well I do, but rather how well others do because of me.

I want to do what I can so that Lourdes is the norm, not the exception; so that where you are from is not a predictor of where you will end up.

In the meantime, I plan to keep checking my email.

— Amy Yamner