Random Things About Me

We’re in the midst of application season and seeing the prospective students touring Fuqua and visiting classes brought back memories of when I applied to school. Fuqua’s random facts application essay is one of the greatest questions I’ve seen. It’s unique, and you may be wondering how to respond, so I thought I would share some random things about myself. So here they are, in no particular order:

  1. In 2008, I finished my first and only marathon in a time of 3 hours, 46 minutes. While I haven’t ruled out running another, it hasn’t happened yet …
  2. I’m an amateur competitive eater. Career highlights include demolishing a 4-pound burrito in 13 minutes and nearly finishing a 10,000-calorie, 9-pound burger in 1 hour. I’m a lifetime member of the Clean Plate Club.
  3. In sixth grade, I finished third place in my hometown spelling bee, but … there were only 3 contestants.
  4. I love tennis. I played in high school and continued playing competitively during college. I co-founded the Iowa State tennis club with some friends and over 10 years later, the club is still thriving.
  5. My wife, Julie Ryan, is also a first-year student at Fuqua.
  6. One of my favorite experiences was studying abroad in France during undergrad and spending the summer backpacking throughout Western Europe.
  7. I didn’t step foot on a plane until I was 21 years old, but on my 28th birthday, I jumped out of one.
  8. I don’t own a television or DVD player, but 2 of my favorite shows are “Lost” and “Breaking Bad.”
  9. As a pre-teen, I was very overweight. During the summer between seventh and eighth grade, I lost 50 pounds and when I returned to school, no one recognized me. They thought I was the new kid in school!
  10. I lived for more than 2 years without electricity or running water in an African village as a Peace Corps volunteer.
  11. I met former Vice President Al Gore (author of “An Inconvenient Truth”) and country music star LeAnn Rimes.
  12. As I’m writing this, I’m procrastinating on studying.
  13. My only brother is 3 years younger than me and at various stages of our lives we’ve been mistaken for twins.
  14. My undergraduate career spanned 5 1/2 years, two schools, and more than 200 credits.
  15. In 2004, I was the Iowa State University Intramural ping pong singles and doubles champion!
  16. My first part-time job was stringing tennis rackets. My favorite job to-date was with the Peace Corps where I worked as a small business advisor and helped entrepreneurs launch new businesses.
  17. My favorite movies growing up were the “Back to the Future” trilogy.
  18. Nerd alert! I’ve always enjoyed board games, and about a year ago I fell in love with Settlers of Catan – especially with the Cities and Knights expansion. I also enjoy Acquire, a rare property investment game made by 3M in the 1960s.
  19. I can’t really swim and I’m the worst golfer you’ll ever see.
  20. I’m currently writing a humorous travelogue about my adventures in Africa, similar to one of my favorite books “Sex Lives of Cannibals.”
  21. Camembert Apple Chutney Quesadillas. I’m a self-proclaimed foodie and when time allows, I enjoy cooking. The aforesaid dish is one of my specialties.
  22. I love traveling. At the top of my must-see list is Southeast Asia.
  23. I created and dressed as a superhero named Moringa Man to teach the population of Burkina Faso about the health benefits of cooking with moringa, a super-nutritious plant.
  24. I inherited my love for outdoor activities from my parents, who both hold graduate degrees in geology. During my childhood, we spent many summer vacations hiking and backpacking in the Rockies.
  25. I once permed my hair because I liked the way the style looked in a Taco Bell commercial.

See more examples from and insight on Fuqua’s 25 Random Things essay

James Megivern

Daytime MBA, Class of 2015

I lived in the Midwestern United States until a desire to make a social impact led me to West Africa as a member of the Peace Corps. My wife and I have a lot of conversations about school since she’s also in the Class of 2015!

Learn more about James | View all of James's Posts

  • Said Alsalah


    Is there anyway I can send you a couple of questions over email? I have some questions specific to your experiences, and I would greatly appreciate some first hand details concerning the academics and life at Duke.


    • James

      Hi Said,

      Thanks for your note! If you want to post you email address, I’d be happy to chat offline about my experiences at Duke.



  • Said Alsalah

    Hi James,

    Thanks for your reply, my email is said.b.alsalah@gmail.com

    Thanks for your help!

  • Rojin Raju

    Hi James,

    Same here. I really enjoyed preparing for the essays of Fuqua, especially for the 25 random things. Initially I thought I might not have 25 things worth mentioning but I ended up writing 50 and then had to select some interesting ones!!! It was such a good exercise!
    BTW, I have been invited for interview and would want your help in getting to know team fuqua better. Can you please answer a few questions about your experience so far in Fuqua?
    Please send me an email.

    Thank you and have a great time!


  • Kristin M

    Hi James! Was trying to get a feel for what types of things people generally cover in this type of question – you have some great ones, so thanks for this. Hopefully this year’s essays will be along the same lines, it seems like a great exercise. By the way, saw that you love Settlers of Catan – you must try the game Puerto Rico. You will love it!