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

Doctors found a tumor in my airway during my first year at HBS. I had heard horrifying stories that happened to others during school. But this time it was me—I was the protagonist. Life hit me when I thought I had been at the peak of the world, exploring different career paths, making new friends, and traveling to exotic places.

But I was extremely fortunate. After a six-hour open surgery, the entire tumor was removed and I was cured. In several weeks, I recovered thanks to the care of my loving parents and close friends.

It was a wakeup call which forced me to prioritize health and think hard about what the most important things are in life. While I still manage a busy schedule because I enjoy being productive and achieving goals, I always remind myself to take a pause in stressful situations.

Each day has become more memorable, because I focus on things I find most fulfilling, such as engaging in meaningful conversations with family or friends, leading intellectual discussions with small groups, and organizing a conference to advance an important cause with like-minded classmates.

I will make the right trade-offs, live in the present, and lead a balanced life.

— Amanda Yang