I remember when I first came to HBS. I felt like a diamond in the rough that only needed the MBA-polish to fulfill its destiny – conquer the business world. I wanted to make a difference, mark my name in the history pages, and I thought that all I would have to do is choose between the Fortune 500 companies that would offer me the opportunity to become their CEO. I thought that I had it all figured out. I thought that I had total control of my life. But destiny had its own plan, and during the first semester I learned that I had a rare nerve disease and started treatment for ALS. Statistically, I had no future.
How does a “dead man walking” think about tomorrow? What does he dream about? It’s not about winning the battles of the business battlefield. It is not about fortune or power. It’s not about what he would do in five to ten years from now. It’s about living the next day, the next week, and the next month. Suddenly the time horizon shrinks and so does the ego. It hurt me when I realized I might not be able to achieve any of my professional goals. It hurt me a thousand times more when I realized I might not be able to marry my fianc‚e and raise a family. At that point I knew that I would happily sweep floors for the rest of my life if it meant I could have kids and see them grow up.
But things will turn out for the best – I know it. I have faith, and I have an amazing support network at HBS. Section NI – my family away from home – has been working restlessly to alleviate my hardships and the faculty and the administration have been extremely supportive all along. In the past few months, I have learned a few important lessons: I have found that there is endless goodness in the human heart. That people who only yesterday were strangers to me will become my brothers and sisters in the darkest of times. That hope is stronger than fear. That love can overcome despair.
I am fighting for my life in a race against time, but I am not alone in this battle. My section and I are trying to raise awareness about ALS and support research to find a cure. With your support and the support of the entire HBS community, no goal is too hard to achieve. We came here hoping to make a difference in the world. By helping to find a cure for ALS we can all make a difference for hundreds of thousands of people out there – that’s a great place to start. And when that day comes, I will feel more successful than any Fortune 500 CEO.