To get to Fuqua, I had to drive past dozens of business schools (and drive I did, pulling a trailer behind a borrowed Ford F-450 pickup). It was a literal experience, waving goodbye to the other options as I crossed the Mason-Dixon line. If I’d wanted to, I could have spared myself the cross-country trek altogether and walked down the block to a New York City business school, some of which I’ve heard are quite nice. And as a returned Peace Corps volunteer, I could have chosen to throw off the shackles of profit-seeking entirely and enrolled in a public policy program, like many of my friends.
You’ve got to give up something when you come to business school, and the important part is finding out what you can give up that will lead to something better. During this past term, I gave up vacuuming, but that’s not what I’m talking about here (though it is a problem). I’ve been in Durham for a few months now, and on any given day, there are approximately one million examples highlighting what I had hoped to gain from moving down here. A day from last term stands out as one to examine. Let’s take a look!
Morning: Net Impact Cabinet Meeting at NanaTaco
Leaving New York feels like a food sacrifice. You sigh, take one last bite of your avocado ostrich burger, and brace yourself for two years of Bojangles’ (a Southern fast food joint). Rest assured that in Durham, this isn’t a problem. At NanaTaco, I was on the fence between roasted duck or chorizo tacos. It’s not a bad dilemma to have.
Arguably, though, the more important aspect of this meeting was the social impact facet. The lunch was a get-to-know-you session for those of us responsible for setting up the Sustainable Business & Social Impact conference in February. Net Impact, the club that sponsors the conference, is the largest student-run club on campus. The consideration for environment and community that Fuquans display has erased any latent fears I may have had about business school being focused on bulldozing youth centers and storing nuclear waste in puppy kennels.
Afternoon: World Beer Festival
I arrived at the event by myself because I was a little late. If I’d gone to school in New York, I would’ve brought one of my non-school friends as a buffer against actually having to meet people and talk to them. If I’d gone to school in any larger town, I might have wondered whether I’d run into any classmates at all. Instead, I walked alone through the entrance gate, once again flinging myself into the social abyss and hoping the warm arms of the Fuqua community would catch me. Six feet from the entrance, there sat a table of four Fuqua students, and they scooted over to make room for me.
Evening: Duke Basketball Ticket Selection
After Campout (see other posts for an explanation of this phenomenon), our impromptu team was left with 9 season tickets for 18 people. We developed a draft to split them evenly. I haven’t been to any games yet — since I’m told the season hasn’t started — but what I lost in professional sports venues from New York, I will make up for by cramming into Cameron with a blue-painted face. It’s extra special because my undergrad was a Division III school whose mascot was the Fighting Violets. I think we had a fencing team.
Overall, each day gives me some kind of reminder why coming to Durham was a good idea. I’ll keep you posted.
After growing up in rural Maryland I was due for a change of scenery, so I went to undergrad in New York before going to Europe as a member of the Peace Corps for an even bigger change. That work in development has remained important to me, and now I’m involved with Fuqua’s Net Impact Club and the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship.