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

Growing up, there was this girl: Adriana. She was better than me at everything. She was better at math. Her stories were better. She played volleyball better than me. I was always trying to beat her, but very rarely did I succeed. And then one day, she was missing.

It turned out that it was strawberry season, and she had to stay at home to watch her little siblings while her parents worked in the fields. She started to miss school a lot. Like how it's hard to tell exactly when one season becomes the next, I don't know when Adriana dropped out for good. I do know that when the school principal spoke at graduation about how hard we had worked to be where we were, I felt like he captured only part of the story. Because Adriana worked just as hard as me, and she wasn't there.

My life cannot only be about making myself more successful. Because, honestly, I don’t deserve my own success any more than Adriana deserved to miss school to babysit her siblings. I want my life to be about helping other people to be more successful. The exciting part is that HBS has shown me that this can be done in so many ways – for example, working at an impactful non-profit, creating good jobs, or investing in businesses that truly create social value.

It's a twist of fate that got me here. What is on me is to make it count.

— Jackie Bernhelm