The Fuqua Kind of Friday

I am no stranger to Fridays! After a grueling week, most people I know like to kick back and relax; some may even crack a smile. But this was different — never had I seen such a large gathering of smiling people. And it seemed like their smiles got wider as I got closer to them! I was at the Fox Center, and it was Fuqua Friday — a weekly social event for the whole Fuqua community. This was the last item on the Fuqua Open House agenda, and it was a perfect end to a spectacular day.

The Open House was held on the last Friday of November 2012, just weeks before the world was scheduled to end as per the Mayan calendar — or so some predicted. The crowd at Fuqua Friday was electric, and those within talking distance made an effort to spark a conversation — “Are you enjoying your visit?” and “Hi! How was your interview?!” were a few of the friendly questions I received. How on earth did they know that I wasn’t (yet) part of Team Fuqua? Well, it may have been the standard-issued giant-size visitor name tag; but I think they would’ve known regardless. I had lost sight of the group of prospective students with whom I had ventured into the Fox Center. After a quick attempt to find the somewhat familiar faces, I decided to head home but was met by yet another smiling member of Team Fuqua.

“You’re not leaving, are you?! Want to grab some ice cream?” Couldn’t really say no to that!

Ice cream in hand, we walked around the Fox Center, explored the messages posted on the student club bulletin boards, browsed through the flags hanging in the hallway, stopped by the bust of J.B. Fuqua to read the plaque, and also practiced pronouncing “Few-qua.” The hour-long personal tour was priceless, and the conversation, insightful. It was evident that Fuqua had a very competitive environment, and that the school’s MBA program would push me outside my comfort zone — way out. But as the day unfolded, I realized that the school had an entire community that encouraged personal and professional development.

Besides attending this particular Open House, I participated in several Daytime and Executive MBA admissions events at Duke, and during my visits, each encounter I had — with students, alumni, faculty and staff — drew me closer to Fuqua’s warm and close-knit community. There was visible poise in the manner in which members of Team Fuqua carried themselves; conversations never revolved around their accomplishments — which were incredibly impressive — but rather around my interest in joining their community. Perhaps the most important conversation I had was with the Weekend Executive program’s admissions counselor, Andy Medlin, who reviewed my profile and helped me uncover my own strengths and accomplishments. After receiving a vote of confidence from an army of supportive people, I submitted my MBA application.

Several Fridays later —

Having submitted the application, and completed the admissions interview, I eagerly awaited the decision; my “anxietment” (anxiety + excitement) was probably at an all-time high. I refreshed the online admissions portal every few hours to check the status of my application. I frequently glanced at my cell phone to make sure it was fully charged and had good network connectivity — just in case.

On Friday, April 19, at 11:07 a.m., my cellphone lit up, and sent tiny tremors across the desk — “Hi, Sayeed! I am calling to …”— a megawatt smile stretched across my face, as I accepted the invitation to join Team Fuqua.

Sayeed Mahmood

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Weekend Executive MBA, Class of 2014. Find out more about me...

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