My journey to Fuqua was a rather emotional one, to say the least. I had worked in pharmaceutical sales for about 4 years when I decided that I wanted to attend business school. My company had gone through several layoffs and it was really hard to see my coworkers and friends be let go. I couldn’t help but think that it could easily have been me in their shoes. In addition to the volatile pharmaceutical industry, I really wanted to transition from sales to strategy, but I knew that I needed a more in-depth understanding of broader management disciplines in order to make the switch — that’s where business school came in!

The Right Fit

I applied to Management Leadership for Tomorrow’s MBA Prep Program and on March 4, 2011, my journey to business school officially began. For the next 18 months, as part of the program, I visited countless schools. “Fit” was really important to me, so I wanted to actually feel what it was like to visit the campus, attend a class, and talk to professors and students. Visiting campuses narrowed my list of schools to apply to because I started to build a matrix for what I really liked and wanted to get out of my MBA journey.

Crystal at Fuqua sign
My first day at Fuqua!

I also began to work diligently on crafting my story. I wanted to make sure I was going to school for the right reasons and I wanted that to ring through in my application, so I was very introspective throughout the process. I thought a great deal about the career decisions that I had made thus far, and where I wanted to be in the short-term and the long-term. I thought about location (I am from the island of sun and beaches, so crazy winters just aren’t for me!). I thought of my husband (and our pup Ziggy 🙂 ) and weighed all these and many other factors in my decision making process. I also focused a great deal on GMAT prep. Test taking isn’t easy for me so I spent a lot of time and money preparing for the GMAT. That test is a beast! I would advise anyone thinking of applying to business school to get the GMAT out of the way as early as possible so that you have plenty of time to then focus on the other important parts of your application.

I Got In!

When I applied to Fuqua on January 4, I was certain that it was the place for me. I visited the school during the Duke MBA Workshop for Minority Applicants in November (definitely worth attending!) and I literally fell in love with the program and the people. I felt something at Fuqua that I did not feel at any other school … it was the “it” factor … it is something that, to this day, I still cannot put into words. That weekend, I realized that Fuqua is a place where I would be more than a number; it is a place where, from the synergies of the entire community, it is evident that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts — “Team Fuqua” is real! For the next three months, I (and everyone else who would listen to my crazy fears and was a part of my journey) was literally on edge waiting for the decision. In April, when I saw the “919” area code on my phone and heard Admissions rep Willie Green’s voice on the next line, I thought I had won the lottery. I did win the lottery, I guess. It felt utterly and absolutely wonderful to see my hard work pay off and get into the school of my dreams.

Now that I am here, the journey so far has been amazing! Classes are really, really hard, and my classmates are super duper smart, but this is exactly what I wanted (and I constantly have to remind myself of that when statistics kicks my butt!). I am pushing myself way harder than I ever have — and not just academically — I was selected to lead the Global Academic Travel Experience (GATE) trip to India. While here, I am also trying to:

  1. Only do the hard stuff (things that I would never have imagined doing before)
  2. Not sweat the small stuff
  3. Allow myself the leeway to fail (best way to learn right?!)
  4. Make each day more amazing than the last (really make this a transformative experience)