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

Ten years ago, sitting in a cramped, unheated kitchen in my family's apartment on the outskirts of Kiev, I wrote the closing paragraph of my college application essay: "I like to be a small part in a huge machine that is called human civilization, a part with a great potential that may someday change the entire principle of its functioning."

I was unimpressed by my own strength back then and awed by the grandeur of the world. I desperately wanted to break out from behind the Iron Curtain, get a visa to a Western country, and finally have the freedom to fulfill myself, to reach the stars... Per aspera ad astra. Unbelievably, my wish came true.

Here at HBS, engrossed in the social and developmental psychology that underlies Organizational Behavior disciplines, I have discovered that my path to the stars lies within me. To reach out, I have to first reach in, understand myself, and attain inner peace. Only this inner peace will allow me to find my place in civilization and journey along my path, improving the lives of people and organizations and living by values akin to those of the Hippocratic Oath: to be diligent and dedicated without exception and to do no harm.

I will know I have succeeded when I stand again on the banks of the Dnipro River with my family, looking at the golden domes of the Kiev skyline, and feeling proud of every step I took since I left my country and of every footstep I left along the way.

— Polina Yampolska