One word was all it took to make over a year of intense exam preparation, school visits, application filling, recommendation coordinating, and essay writing all worthwhile; all the stress, anticipation, and occasional bouts of self-doubt nearly forgotten with just one word — “Congratulations.”

I had considered applying to graduate business school for many years. In fact, pretty soon after I graduated from UC Berkeley’s Haas Business School’s undergraduate business program, I knew that I would eventually want to bolster my burgeoning business experiences with an MBA. Well, I contemplated this step throughout my three years as a financial statement auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and then continued to contemplate it through my next two years in Investor Relations at Alcoa. All the while, I just wasn’t sure I was quite ready.

One thing that I was sure about, though, was that I wasn’t finding the passion I craved for in a fulfilling career by working in the finance industry. Though finance and accounting had been wonderful business foundations for me, allowing me to develop my analytical and financial skills, I wasn’t being challenged creatively.

So, in the meantime, I started pouring myself into an innovative side project with a friend from Berkeley. We launched Destination Luxury (DLX), an online luxury lifestyle magazine to showcase luxury businesses through high-quality video features. When the businesses we covered started using our advice and our videos to elevate the visibility of their brands, we quickly expanded DLX into a luxury content development and branding business. The concept of managing the perceived value of a product or service completely fascinated me, but what I knew about brand management had mainly come out of intuition and first-hand experiences. There was so much more that I could know.

Suddenly it all clicked, and I knew I was finally ready. The small-scale success of Destination Luxury encouraged the entrepreneur in me, ignited a long-standing interest in marketing and solidified my decision to make a career transition into brand management. However, to fully realize my entrepreneurial vision, I recognized that I needed to develop additional leadership and mechanical skills as well as learn all about the brand management industry. I realized that being in an intensely focused business environment with like-minded people would inspire me to tap into my potential – hence the decision to apply to business school. Now that brings us to the letter that began with the most gratifying word “Congratulations.”

This fall, I will begin two undoubtedly exhausting but fun-filled years at Fuqua as part of the Class of 2013. I think Fuqua is the perfect fit for me. Not only does it have a world-class faculty and a globally oriented curriculum, but it also has stellar entrepreneurship and brand management programs. Though, the decision-making clincher for me was, as many B-school students will tell you, the cultural fit. Following my first visit to the Fuqua campus, I knew that this was where I belonged. The students at Fuqua were not just friendly…they completely embraced me into the “Fuqua family.” Several times, after just an introduction, current students invited me into their homes, asking me to join them for dinner, and including me in their plans. I knew that if I was able to become their friend in just one day, I could definitely see myself spending two intense years with them as my peers in business school.

Following business school, I hope to spend a few years working at a brand management firm, and then to launch one of my own that focuses on helping companies distinguish their brands to compete on a global scale. My concept is to partner with companies in developed and emerging nations alike and enable them to more strategically and effectively navigate the challenges of brand development in a largely flattening world.

I don’t know if I will graduate from business school with the same career goals as I have going in, but I am beyond excited to see what is in store for my next two years.