The Duke Start–Up Challenge: Are You Game?

One of the great things constantly emphasized about Fuqua is that it is a risk-free learning environment. So does taking the element of risk out of speculative ventures enhance the learning potential? According to the participants of the Duke Start-Up Challenge 2013-2014, the answer to that is a resounding yes!

A significant number students coming to business school aspire to be entrepreneurs one day. And so, the Duke Start-Up Challenge was set up in 1999 with the aim of providing budding entrepreneurs with a platform for them to showcase their ideas, and to receive guidance and mentorship for refining them into viable business models. While all the participants who go through the successive rounds receive extensive coaching, the winners also get a cash prize of $50,000 to kick-start their business!

This past year,  teams that included students from the MMS:FOB program participated in the challenge. The business ideas submitted by teams from our program ranged from setting up a sports community to an alternative airline hub model. Though the competition was intense and 150 teams from across the university participated, one of the MMS teams–Sportsmode–was among the top 30 teams that moved on to the second round.

I spoke to the team leader of Sportsmode, Kawa Zhang MMS ‘14, and asked him what were the key lessons he learned from this experience.

Kawa has a background in medical sciences, and was working as a registered nurse in Indianapolis before coming to the MMS program.  According to him, while it is fairly common to meet people who have interesting ideas, it’s the people who can process the necessary technical knowledge to translate those ideas into a sound business plan who are hard to come by. This ability is what sets teams apart, and is what the MMS program helped him develop.

Without a background in business, Kawa was initially unsure of how to give his idea shape and form. With the help of the courses in finance, strategy and marketing, he was able to prepare a mold for Sportsmode.

“At the beginning, while I was interested and had an idea and experience, I did not know where to start. MMS program helped me to gain insight and develop my idea.” – Kawa Zhang

Howie Rhee, the Managing Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, is the main man behind the challenge (the incubator for students) helped the students with resources and aids, such as writing a business plan, preparing presentations for investor acquisition, designing marketing campaigns, etc.

One of Kawa’s greatest challenges was putting a team together early in the year, while balancing school work and recruiting with competition. He also felt that the best part about the challenge was the support system that had been created for the students. Regardless of the final outcome, the ideas that deserved attention were being given an opportunity.

Finally, even if you don’t end up winning, you still come out with a more structured idea, a great experience and hell of a lot more confidence!

Ashima Sehgal

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MMS, Class of 2014. Find out more about me...

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Corporate Tour Opportunity: Welcome to Facebook!

Palak - FBSign edit

Outside Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, CA

What a great way to end Spring Break this past year by touring around the Facebook campus in lovely Menlo Park, CA! The Career Management Center (CMC), with the help of Career Ambassadors (students who assist with career-related activities), provided us a great opportunity to be able to either job shadow or take a company tour of MMS alum’s current workplaces. Two current MMSers and I were fortunate to visit Lucas Chapin MMS ’11 at his workplace – known as none other than Facebook!

As we entered through the main building, we logged in as guests through their internal Facebook system, and met Lucas in the lobby. We began our tour by walking outside in the fresh air. It’s very similar to a college campus where there are buildings surrounding a central walkway, and people walking, or even biking, everywhere.

As we walked towards the other end, we saw many exciting places! First, we saw a cute dessert shop, where we visited later in the day for some dessert following lunch. On the opposite side was the main cafeteria, Epic. Epic provides a different cuisine almost every day, and always has a salad bar. There were also free drinks that could be found all over the campus if we were thirsty. In addition, there are other places to eat such as Burger Shack, Harvest (where local produce is used), and coffee shops.

Facebook Arcade to unwind with some fun games!

Facebook Arcade to unwind with some fun games!

In addition to providing employees with the convenience of food and free snacks every day, Facebook also has an arcade, a wood shop, rental bikes, a health center and gym, on-site health professionals, and even dry cleaning services. Having all these amenities present on the Facebook campus allows employees to focus on their work without having to worry about traveling far to get food, doing their laundry, or getting a gym membership.

Marking my spot on the Facebook Wall!

Marking my spot on the Facebook Wall!

Work hard, play hard. This mantra seemed to be the overall feel of Facebook. There was definitely the fun portion of the workspace, but the employees are also very hard-working people really committed to what they do. We were able to meet with a few Facebook employees, and they absolutely love what they do and enjoy being a part of Facebook. I’m so glad we were given this opportunity to be able to visit Facebook’s campus over Spring Break.

Palak Bavishi

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MMS, Class of 2014. Find out more about me...

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Setting Sail on the MMS Journey

Welcome to Durham MMS Class of 2015! If you think that orientation week at Fuqua consists of casually mingling among your new program buddies over a drink or sitting in boring lectures hours on end, boy, are you in for a surprise. You are thrown into the deep end and I guarantee that you will be exhausted by the end of the week. But did I enjoy it? I loved every minute of it. Orientation really sets the tone for the 10 months ahead. It isn’t just about learning new faces or understanding how to navigate through the building. Instead, by the end of the week, we weren’t just close friends, but a part of the Fuqua family. Below are several highlights of my orientation week for the Class of 2014:

Program Launch: Following several speeches from the directors of the MMS program and from the Dean himself, we were split into two sections, blue and white. I got placed in the white section and was assigned to afternoon classes. I’m not much of a morning person, so needless to say, I was very pleased! We were also assigned to our first MMS team for group assignments. The MMS program places tremendous importance in fostering teamwork and many of our graded assessments are team-based. Teams include a diversity of undergraduate degrees, nationalities and personalities, which make for very dynamic discussions during team meetings! All of us are able to contribute to our teams in unique ways.

Meeting teammates for the first time

Meeting teammates for the first time

Team Dynamics: With our new teams, we were given our first team-building activity in which we had to create a skit to illustrate how our individual differences combine to create the perfect team. After a fruitful discussion, my team decided that for our skit, we’d each bring in a particular type of food to represent both our personality and ethnic background, with the intention that our food would mesh together to create the perfect dish, representative of our perfect team. Sadly, rice, chicken, yogurt, salsa and kimchi didn’t combine well together … Luckily, our self-inflicted pain cracked up the audience and we were rightly awarded second runner-up for our creativity and humor.

Section Olympics: This was a big, competitive face-off between the blue and white sections. Chubby bunny, limbo, water balloon toss and of course, tug-of-war were some of the activities we competed in. It was a chance to showcase our competitive sides, and at the same time, get to know each other better. My section dominated the entire afternoon and won every single event! Props to the blue section though for being a worthy competitor! It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

What a close contest!

What a close contest!

Triangle Training: I’m not sure that there’s a more effective way of building trust in a team than to have two people support each other on a high wire, hanging over 10 feet off the ground. There is no way of getting from one side of the wire to the other without the full support and trust of your teammate. Activities like these were what Triangle Training was all about. The organization that runs this event each year for MBAs and MMSers advocates team building through physically entrusting yourself to a teammate. It was an intense full-day event during which we worked through a series of exercises to better understand the components that make up an effective team. My favorite and most challenging activity was building a tower from plastic crates while standing on the crates themselves! Definitely not for the fainthearted.

Learning to trust teammates 10 feet off the ground!

Learning to trust teammates 10 feet off the ground!

End of Week Celebration Dinner: Having had such a long and tiring week, we wound down by hitting up Tyler’s Taproom, a local bar in Durham! It was finally a chance to relax, have a beer and chat with fellow classmates about the experiences of orientation week. It was a great start to my MMS life!

End of week reflection at Tyler's

Week-end reflection at Tyler’s

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Giving and Growing Outside the Classroom

Although the MMS: FOB program will keep you running from the moment you start, finding time to give back to the community will make your experience in Durham so much more valuable. Here are a few on-campus organizations you can join to say engaged outside of class:

  1. The Net Impact Club
    The Net Impact clubs lets you explore the intersection of social responsibility and business. This past year we watched and discussed applicable TED talks, like Michael Porter’s on how social responsibility will lead to long term profits for business. We’ve also gotten our hands dirty during Habitat for Humanity build days and have reached out to the Duke Community with a screening of Girl Rising. Net Impact is a great way to get to know other MMSers and leaders of consequence who have a like-minded approach to business.

    mms students at house under construction

    Some class of 2014 MMS students “building” their skillset at a Habitat for Humanity house in Durham.
    Photo courtesy of Catherine Doktycz.

  2. Duke Interdisciplinary Social Innovators
    This organization, also known as DISI, is new to campus, but a great addition and one that will likely grow for years to come. I was involved in two DISI projects and certainly learned a lot. The arrangement is simple: DISI gives you the chance to help a non-profit organization while you work with people of different skills and experiences—much like you will at your job post-graduation. There are all kinds of projects to get involved with and new skills to learn. Just to give you a glimpse, my first project was to design a sustainable, accessible therapy garden for veterans and my second was to explore social entrepreneurship in other cities. Full lists of past projects are on their website. If you’re interested in consulting or getting to know other graduate students across Duke’s campus, I wholly recommend looking into DISI. The projects run over traditional semesters, but the workload is manageable, and sometimes enhances your MMS coursework.
  3. Fuqua2Duke
    The best of both worlds, Fuqua2Duke creates mentor-mentee relationships between Duke undergraduates and Fuqua students. Since MMS students are between undergraduate and business school, we have a chance to be both a mentor and a mentee. You can give advice to undergrads who are unsure of what lies ahead after graduation, sharing what you’ve learned on how to network and to create a personal brand. You can also speak to an MBA student about their industry expertise and get tips on leadership, mentoring, and a host of other things for your own benefit.

My involvement in different activities gave me some really rich experiences organizing events and growing my skillset that I can take away from the program—not to mention plenty to talk about on interviews! As you look forward to joining the next MMS class, don’t forget to find ways to grow your leadership skills and enrich your experience!

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Driving in Durham: Tips for Future International Students

Durham is a small city, but at the same time, everything is scattered around. I like to wander, but it’s still a little hard to quickly travel around Durham by bus. So I got a car soon after moving here.

As Kelvin mentioned in an earlier post, you can absolutely travel around Durham with public transportation, and Duke makes it really easy with the GoPass it provides. But sometimes, public transportation is a bit limited. For example, when I have to stay at Fuqua past midnight to work on group assignments with my team, it just isn’t practical to rely on public transportation to get home since many buses don’t run late at night. Having a car is much more convenient. If you would like to see some of the Duke campus and surrounding areas, you can take a look at this short video I made while driving around Durham.

If you’re planning to come to Durham from outside of the U.S., you may be wondering about how to get a car here. Since Durham is relatively small, there are a limited number of car dealers. A new car might be a little bit more expensive than what you might find in other areas in the country. As an international student, you might want to stick to bigger dealers to make sure the buying process is handled correctly to avoid future trouble.

The incoming student website (you’ll gain access to it after you’re admitted to Fuqua) includes links to a couple websites where you can search for cars. Of course, if you plan to buy a brand-new car, I recommend that you go directly to the website of the specific brand you like to find a local dealer. But since most international MMS students only stay in Durham for one year, most of us purchase a used car. Some specific resources for used cars include Kelley Blue Book, usedcar.com, and CarMax – these might give you some great cars to choose from.

After locating the car you want, you might want to call a local dealer to schedule an appointment to see the car. If you are buying from a franchised dealer, which I recommend, they will help you with the warranty and whatever is needed regarding the maintenance and repair of the car. But before that, there are still many things you need to sort out.

A driver’s license (or a Learner’s Permit here in NC—because it is a hard card-type ID issued by the DMV, it is accepted as a legal proof of identity—unlike some other states where the Learners’ Permit is just a piece of paper with no photo) is necessary to purchase a car. The license represents your legal status in the United States as well as your ability to drive a car.

How to Get a Driver’s License in Durham

  1. Visit a local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office to take a written test. You’ll need to take the following documents with you:
    •  I-20
    •  I-94
    •  Proof of residency (ex: a copy of your apartment lease)The written test includes questions about traffic rules and road signs. You’ll also have to pass a vision test. If you pass these tests, you’ll receive a learner’s permit, which is like a pre-license.
  2.  With your learner’s permit, you can drive a car as long as someone over 21 who has a driver’s license is in the car with you. I recommend that you practice driving with your friends to get familiar with the roads and how to drive in the United States. The traffic rules and the way people drive here may be different from what you’re used to in your home country.
  3. After you’ve practiced driving with your learner’s permit, return to the DMV to take the driving test to get your official driver’s license. You’ll need to take the following documents with you:
    •  I– 20
    •  I– 94
    •  Proof of residency
    •  Proof of insurance – even if you drive a friend’s car, you still need to provide proof of insurance for yourself
    •  Car registration – it should be the registration of the car you will be driving, and since you can buy a car with a Learners’ Permit, a lot of my friends chose to bring their own car when taking the final test.

For the driving test, an examiner will get in the car with you, and you will have to drive along a specific route designated by the examiner. During the short drive, you will be tested on how well you handle the car, how flexible you are when handling road situations, how strict you follow the traffic rules, and other specific requirements like stopping or turning, etc. Most of my friends took the driving test only once, but some people have taken it multiple times until they pass it.

If there’s one thing I need to stress about here, it’s the importance of insurance. Normally people go with the big insurance companies like Progressive, Geico or State Farm, because they have a better reputation and even provide student discounts that are far more reliable than other smaller companies. It is required by law to be covered by at least liability insurance when you’re driving on the road, and the dealers won’t sell you a car without one. I went to my dealer the first time with everything but insurance hoping they may able to take care of it, but was turned down and ended up wasting most of my day. I want to point that out, so you don’t make the same mistake and waste your time.

A license (or permit) and insurance is all you need other than the identification documents you already have to be able to purchase a car. The only step left would be to pick out your ideal car among millions of links online. Good luck with your search and have fun driving around Durham!

Zhi "Frank" Li

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A Lesson in (Time) Management

“I am definitely going to take a course on time management … just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.” – Louis E. Boone

This quote very well captures the essence of being in business school, and the single greatest challenge that we, as business students, face – managing our time. When you choose to allocate your time to one activity, you are also actively choosing to not do other things. While this sounded like a trivial issue to us as new students who were easily excitable and willing to put in 20 hours a day at the onset, we quickly learned an important lesson. When we were exposed to the full heat of academics, recruiting, club work and social life, I learned, as my classmate Emma puts it, that I can do everything, but not at the same time. Here are some of the “nuggets of wisdom” that I’ve learned about time management:

  1. Get a planner. Planning out every day and every hour of your day may seem like a very corporate thing to do, but trust me, it’s indispensable when you’re in business school. The most important part of being successful is showing up to the right place at the right time, and not being completely clueless. So get a planner and make notes, or manage your commitments on the calendar on your phone. Having a sense of control over your time will help you feel a lot less overwhelmed.
  2. Get your priorities straight. Getting a 4.0 GPA, becoming president of the club you always wanted to join, picking up an on-campus employment opportunity, landing your dream job, and finding time to socialize and take trips with your friends – this is all an incredible fantasy. The chances are that things won’t turn out to be as you had hoped, and some things will be harder than you were prepared for. You have to prioritize by choosing what is most vital to you, give it all you have, and celebrate your successes instead of obsessing over the battles you lost. Remember what is important!
  3. The lesser evil – budgeting time.  It is crucial to budget time for different tasks you have to do during the day. It’s easy to spend 2 hours drafting an assignment and then 4 more hours improving it. Be careful about spending too much time making everything flawless, unless you want to spend 30-40 hours each week working on assignments alone! Everything can’t and won’t be perfect. Sometimes you have to decide what is good enough, and move on to the other things on your plate.
  4. Make the most of your weekends.  During my first week in school, I tried to finish all schoolwork during the weekdays, so I’d have time to relax and explore Durham over the weekends. I now know that this was a bad idea. Don’t set unreasonable expectations for yourself. Definitely use weekends to unwind, and have some fun, but it’s also the best time to work ahead. Make sure you celebrate your Friday evenings at Fuqua Friday, but also use at least part of every weekend to prepare for the coming week’s assignments and classes!
  5. Bring together what you have to do with what you want to do.  Avoid being in the MMS team rooms for 10 hours a day. When you can, have team meetings in coffee shops, over dinner, or in libraries around campus. If you can’t find any time to discover the campus or Durham because of the workload, then bring them together. It’s not that hard!

Business school definitely keeps you on your toes, but making it an ordeal is your own doing. Get smart about how you use your time, and when you do find that occasional night off with no urgent work or fires to be put out, seize the moment and enjoy it without feeling guilty. It’s a precious, rare gift – make the most of it!

Ashima Sehgal

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Experience, Salary, Vacation, and an Offer.

 

mms student

Guest Blogger: MMS Student Michael Xie

Jobless in November

As mid-November rolled around, I was not one of the fortunate few who had already landed a job offer, and therefore able to spend winter break in blissful relaxation. After speaking to my career coach about my resume and career goals, we determined that lack of experience was the biggest problem with my resume. Doing a Winternship was the best option for me to remedy that.

Since I was pursuing a career in strategy/consulting, I limited my search to opportunities that either centered on strategy or business planning in order to gain relevant experience. A couple Winternships fit the bill, but a posting for a Strategy Analyst position at Strayer Education caught my eye. Brand name, strategy, salary, two (out of four) weeks working remotely, around the holidays…Bingo. I applied and reached out to our contact there for some more information about the position. I talked briefly with one of their Senior VPs about the company and the project I would be working on, and received an offer for the internship a couple weeks later.

Strategy, Scheduling, and Modeling

headquarters building for Strayer Education

Strayer Education Headquarters in Herndon, VA.

My Winternship lasted four weeks. I spent the first week at the Strayer Education HQ in Herndon, VA, then worked remotely for the next two weeks. The last week I returned to the office to wrap up my project with them. My first day involved being introduced to people around the office, getting a short rundown of Strayer Education, and sitting in on a team meeting with the scheduling team that I would be working alongside in the upcoming weeks. Work started quickly and I was immediately presented with long-term goals and deliverables.

Over a four-week period I was able to work on a fairly big-picture strategic level, gain extensive experience with excel, and work on marketing and implementation as well as strategic design and planning. I was honestly shocked with the level of engagement in the internship and how much of a contribution I was allowed to make. After doing so many cases in classes at Fuqua, it was really rewarding to be able to work on an actual business case, and create and implement a recommendation. I was not only heavily involved in the project, but I was able to see its launch during my time there.

To Spring and Beyond

In reflection, my Winternship met all of my goals going in—and more. I have now worked in a strategy role that gave me not only solid experience to put on my resume, but helped me apply what I learned in class to a real-world environment. and I also confirmed my desire to pursue work in strategy after graduation. The structure of the Winternship, which allowed me to spend two weeks working remotely, gave me the opportunity to gain experience and still spend time at home in California with family and friends during the holidays. One term later, I have already been able to utilize my experience to get interviews and I have also received my first offer. I highly recommend pursuing a Winternship or a pre-Fuqua summer internship to gain some real work experience and boost your resume with relevant background in your chosen industry or role.

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Habitat for Humanity: Building Houses for the Durham Community

MMS students at Habitat for Humanity construction site

MMS students give back to the community by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.

On an afternoon in November, I found myself traveling to a small neighborhood on Durham-Chapel Hill Road. As I pulled up the driveway with four classmates, I saw three houses under construction that had “Sold to Habitat of Humanity” signs out front. We got out of the car and were immediately called over by the project leader. The introduction was brief, and in no time, we were given gloves, pouches, hammers and nails. I rushed up a ladder and began helping the volunteer professional builders with the installation of the second floor for one of the houses.

The building project was supported in part by Duke’s Office of Durham and Regional Affairs, which supports the local community and service organizations like Habitat for Humanity of Durham. Habitat is a non-profit that helps to build and repair homes for those less fortunate so that they may have a safe and affordable place to call home. The MMS Net Impact Club called for volunteers to help with local Habitat projects. As Vice President of the club, despite not having any experience in building houses, I signed up with an open mind along with a few classmates. I saw it as a perfect opportunity to connect with the Durham community and to give back to the needy. The Club hopes to build on this new partnership with Habitat and to continue to support the organization in the future.

My classmates and I spent a day on the Habitat construction site. Of course, not everyone was balancing on a half-built second floor framing like I was. For those who didn’t fare well with heights, there were a variety of other roles that people took on—like sawing wooden pieces for the framing or painting. There was something for everyone to do. Despite the hard work, I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. I got to know several other Duke students who were there, and most of all, I got to give back to my new home of Durham!

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Are you a Fuqua Fit?

The final application deadline for Fuqua’s MMS: FOB program, April 1, 2014, is only a couple of weeks away. If you’re still wondering if you fit the bill of the ideal MMS candidate, this post is aimed at breaking the myth that there, in fact, is an “ideal profile” of an MMS student.

The most important pillar of Fuqua’s philosophy is the idea of “Team Fuqua.” It doesn’t matter if you’ve studied mathematics, physics or humanities in your undergrad, or if you’ve worked for three years prior to the program or not. If you can be an effective member of Team Fuqua, you belong here. And to show that there isn’t one perfect candidate for the program, we will be introducing you to some of the students of the MMS Class of 2014. First in this series is Kishin Wadhwani.

Introduction: Kishin Wadhwani, a resident of Mountain View, California, went to University of Virginia for his undergrad, where he majored in Foreign Affairs. He is heavily interested in technology and entrepreneurship. In his junior (third) year of school, he had to write a business plan for one of his classes, and received a bad grade on it. However, the entrepreneurship bug caught his fancy and he launched his own e-commerce venture. He decided to come to the MMS program to sharpen his business skills and plug the knowledge gaps.

Q. How did your undergraduate background affect your decision to come to Fuqua?
A. I chose to major in Foreign Affairs because I was always keenly interested in comparative political systems. However, it was a theoretical discipline, and while fascinating, I felt the need to supplement it with a practical skillset. Together, politics and business fuel the infrastructure and systems of the world, and this was the common thread of interest for me, triggering my decision to get a business education.

Q. Do you find any synergies in your undergraduate major and the MMS courses?
A. Yes – I feel business and foreign affairs are complimentary fields. In addition to the fact that politics and business drive each other in most countries of the world, a study of foreign affairs gives an institutional view of “why people do what they do.” Business gives us the opportunity to explore those decisions at a micro level.

Q. How do you think your undergrad training has impacted your perception of the business world? What are some of the most pressing challenges for our generation?
A. In undergrad, we looked at issues from a compartmentalized mindset. However, graduate business education is interdisciplinary, forcing us to take account of problems and consequences from multiple perspectives, and be more empathetic.

The challenge, in my opinion, is the flight towards commoditization. Whether it is a physical product or a service, the chase to the bottom (to achieve highest cost efficiency) has come at the cost of quality. To say that profit maximization is the sole purpose of business would be a pigeonholed point of view. It is striking the balance between competing incentives that’s a challenge for us to solve.

Q. Which skill from your undergrad, in your opinion, has been the most valuable for you in the MMS program so far?
A. Working with vast amounts of data, synthesizing and analyzing it in a limited amount of time has definitely been the skill that has been the handiest in the MMS program.

Q. What has been the most effective/ memorable aspect of the program for you so far? What would you change?
A. For me, having access to a great network of people – the professors, guest speakers and visitors from the business world – has been the best part of the program. I especially enjoyed the Innovation and Energy panels organized at Fuqua.

Given the volume of work we have with curriculum and recruiting, we have a tendency to limit our community to other Fuqua students. While we have cross-disciplinary networking events, I would like to bring students from all graduate schools at Duke closer together.

Ashima Sehgal

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What I Found Along the Road

In 2013, I set some big goals for myself. Two of those goals ended up becoming my biggest achievements for the year: I was accepted into the MMS: Foundations of Business program and I ran my first half marathon. In some ways, both seem like activities you might do on your own — filling out an application and crossing a finish line — but I found that without a community, I wouldn’t have succeeded.

running sneakers

Decked out for the marathon with my shiny, new Duke blue laces.

Soon after arriving at Duke in July, I signed up for the first half-marathon I could find in Durham, the Bull City Race Fest. I entered with some friends from my undergraduate program. I was pretty new to competitive races and only had a couple 5Ks under my belt, so it made sense to have company. During a tutoring session for a MMS class, I mentioned my training to Michael Moverman, who happened to be one of Duke’s cross country and track athletes. Michael shared some tips with me and offered route suggestions. Every few weeks, we would talk over my training during the short breaks between classes and I continued to receive great, great insights from him.

After weeks of running around the beautiful Duke campus, I mentioned my newest route to a classmate named Kristy McDaniel. I told her about my plans for the half marathon and Kristy enthusiastically signed up for it, too. We started training together and I was so glad to have a partner who had run several half-marathons before. She kept me accountable when I didn’t feel like running. I was more motivated to run with someone else who could also lend an understanding ear when I needed to gripe.

I had been training for weeks and the race was soon after Fall 1 exams. I felt that even though I didn’t follow my training schedule perfectly, I did the best I could while studying for a master’s degree. The day before the race, another MMS track student-athlete, Audrey Huth, handed me a handwritten note with a shoelace bow and wished me luck on my race. I was so touched by her gesture. When I got home, I put my new sparkly Duke blue laces in my running shoes. When the road got rough during the race, I only had to look down to remember there were a bunch of people cheering for me in spirit, even if we were all on Fall Break.

And I did it! I ran the half and I have my first finisher’s medal to prove it. Along the 13.1 miles across downtown, Trinity Park, and even Duke’s own campus, I reflected on my path to Durham and how I made it from term to term. I realized that Team Fuqua is a community full of mentors, peers, and cheerleaders. I know that I wouldn’t have succeeded in MMS or in the marathon without this support network. You may not discover this important lesson as you apply for admission, but you can expect to receive the same support as I did from Team Fuqua once you’re here — regardless of your goal — and its worth its weight in gold.

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