Fuqua’s Got Talent: A Different Side of Business School

When one thinks of business school, suits, recruiting, and stressful late-night study sessions frequently come to mind. It is a place where accomplished individuals from all over the world gather to learn, grow, and establish a foundation for their respective futures. As such, it can be quite hectic. Searching for a job, juggling classes, team assignments, recruiting and networking events, club and extracurricular activities, all the while maintaining some semblance of a social life, can be daunting at best. So when something fun and non-business related, like a talent show, comes along, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Something I can participate in that is fun, exciting, and has nothing to do with my professional life? Heck yeah!

I first heard of Fuqua’s Got Talent when I applied to Duke. A quick google search pulls up blogs and YouTube videos from previous years, and it is clear that there are (and have been) a multitude of talented individuals at Fuqua. After seeing the videos and accounts of Fuqua’s Got Talent (and Fuqua Idol), I knew that I wanted to be a part of it, even before I came to Fuqua. So when the opportunity came around to participate in Fuqua’s Got Talent, I seized it. I am a singer, so I decided to sing and play the ukulele for my act. A group of MMS classmates decided to do an Indian dance as well, and since I love to dance, too (I can’t say no to Bhangra!) it was a no-brainer for me to join them. I was very happy that I could represent both California and Pakistan (I’m ethnically Pakistani, but born and raised in California) at the same time. So, I was down for 2 performances in the show.

mms student

Performing in Fuqua’s Got Talent.

Show Time!

Fuqua’s Got Talent fell on the Friday of one of the worst weeks in the Fall Term 2. We had multiple assignments, a group presentation, and 2 midterms. In the midst of all of this, my dance partners (Palak, Sarah, Mitalee, Brea, Zeel (see a blog with her perspective of the event), and Nazeela) and I set aside time after team meetings to practice the dance late at night. Fellow blogger Palak was the choreographer and teacher, and we all followed her amazing example. Practices were physically exhausting, but we were dedicated to making it work. The day of the talent show, we started with our Corporate Finance midterm, followed by our group company presentation for Business Communications class. After the presentation, I rushed to dress rehearsal with the girls. I did a mic check for my individual performance with the uke, and afterwards went to Fuqua Friday to watch the international fashion show. Karen Nyawera, one of my good friends in the MMS program, was modeling traditional African garb, and I had to cheer her on! After the fashion show, I rushed to the changing room where we got ready, and then headed to the show.

As we entered the auditorium, the excitement was palpable. The lineup was amazing: the show included a variety of talented Fuquans performing unique talents. We started off with an Indian folk dance (2 MBAs did this one), followed by a fantastic violin performance over dub step. I was the third person on stage, and as I got up there, I was greeted with supportive cheers. I performed one of my favorite songs: ”I’m Yours’” by Jason Mraz. I was quite nervous, because although I’ve been singing with the ukulele for a couple of years, this was my first time performing with it on stage. My anxiety went away as soon as I started playing, and lost myself in the song. The audience was extremely receptive and excited. My favorite part was seeing Russ Morgan (our Daytime MBA and MMS Dean) in the judge’s seat clapping to the song. Before I knew it, it was over and we were on to the next act!

With my dance group and Dean Russ Morgan.

With my dance group and Dean Russ Morgan.

I missed the next 2 acts because I ran to the changing room (yet again!) to get into my dance costume. I changed into leggings, a leotard, and Indian skirt, and Palak expertly folded and pinned the matching scarf, called a dupatta, onto my shoulder. With that, we entered the auditorium in time to catch the performance before us: an acoustic version of ”Hit Me Baby One More Time.” Yes, you heard right. An acoustic version of Britney Spears’ song, performed by a guy. But more on that later. After the applause, it was time for us to get on stage. Although we had practiced on this same stage numerous times, it was completely different walking up there with the spotlight on us. We all took our places, and the music began. As we performed, I could feel the excitement of everyone performing and watching. We had so much fun! We threw our hearts into the dance, and it showed. By the final pose, we were all so out of breath, but it was so much fun. Being up on the stage with my classmates, and sharing a bond that was completely different from anything that could be taught in a classroom, was an incredibly memorable experience.

Connecting Outside of Class

Fuqua’s Got Talent was more than just a place to showcase our talents. It was an opportunity for business students and faculty to come together in a fun environment and learn about different arts and cultures. It was a way to explore interests outside of our professional and academic lives, while at the same time see different sides of our classmates. For me, it was an event that made me appreciate how multi-faceted we all are, and how amazing Fuqua really is. To be at a top notch business school and have this much talent? It’s pretty fantastic.

Not only did Fuqua’s Got Talent give us the opportunity to see a completely different side of our peers, but it also gave us a chance to showcase our talent and show what we’ve got! Since the MMS program is both young and small, sometimes it can be difficult to be heard in comparison to the rest of Fuqua. This was the first year that Fuqua’s Got Talent had 2 performances from the MMS program. And guess what? My dance group got runner up! I’m sure you’re wondering who won. Deservedly, it was Ryan Fawcett’s acoustic version of ”Hit Me Baby One More Time.’ Go watch the video, and you’ll see what I mean.

All in all, despite the crazy busyness of that week, I am so happy that I participated in Fuqua’s Got Talent. It is one of the experiences that I will always remember. It definitely brought me closer to my classmates and to the rest of Fuqua. I was able to share a different side of myself with the school, and to see a unique side of people that I had never before expected. Sharing in that experience will connect us in a way that case studies could never do, although those are indeed very important, too. :-)

Danya Akbar

More posts from Danya Akbar

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

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One Response to Fuqua’s Got Talent: A Different Side of Business School

  1. Mehnaz says:

    It was so exciting to read this Danya.
    You have earned this incredible experience and I hope it continues to build lifelong memories for you:)

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