“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
My palms were sweaty. My heart raced. A million questions flew through my mind. Did I do well enough to get in? Would they even want someone like me? I was about to meet my high school guidance counselor to begin crafting a path to my higher education nirvana. It just so happened that my idealized little heaven on earth was only a few miles down the road at the college I had grown up visiting — Princeton.

"Zack, that's just not going to happen."

I wish I could have seen the look on my face. How does someone look when his dreams have been crushed? The blood drained from my face. I remember the emotional sting. The world slowed to a crawl. I focused on my weaknesses. They were too great to count — SATs, grades, leadership. Then bitter resentment washed over me. My blood returned. It now boiled under my skin. I stopped focusing on my own shortcomings, and instead dwelled on the failure of this potential mentor and coach. Did he even realize the wonderful opportunity he had missed?

I strive never to waste such precious opportunities. Have you ever given someone praise for something that a million other people might have overlooked? Helped someone find his voice by teaching him to write with passion or respect his audience? For me, mentorship is all about seizing these often overlooked everyday chances to open people's eyes to their own potential. I love seeing people's faces light up when they talk about their dreams. And for those who just focus on putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, I want to help turn their heads skyward. After all, even the stars can be within our grasp if someone helps us extend our reach.

I want to show people how to reach for the stars. Then I want to help them build the rocket to get there.

— Zachary Surak