When I visited Duke’s campus around this same time last November, it was raining and a bit cold. The weather was much nicer than in New York City, but being surrounded by nature in Durham felt different. To a person who was born and raised in one of the biggest cities of the world, nature can be quite frightening. What felt different wasn’t the fact that there were over 1,000 different colored leaves around me in Durham, but the fact that even with the rain, everything looked beautiful. I captured the greatest pictures that weekend. I should probably print them to adorn the Admissions Office …

rainy day4I can’t help but think back to last November — I was in Durham for The Duke MBA Workshop for Minority Applicants, hosted by the Black and Latino MBA Organization (BLMBAO). It was the 30th anniversary of the event. And this weekend, right now, the 31st workshop is taking place.

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Arlenis Almonte illustrated what life could be like for me as a Fuqua student.

Last year, Arlenis Almonte (MBA ’13), a member of my personal board of advisees, encouraged me to attend the weekend, and boy did she set me up for a weekend of exceeded expectations! Celebrating the 30th anniversary gave me a deeper understanding of how much Duke values diversity and the large investment the school makes every single year to recruit top talent. The Fuqua alumni who returned for the workshop added so much to my experience that weekend that I still bring up stories about the conversations I had with Kareem Cook (MBA ’00), Rod Chappell (MBA ’96), and Owen May (MBA ’83). I sat with them over 3 meals and learned so much about Duke, as well as how my personal and career interests could add value to the school.

Surprisingly, the weekend was not a 3-day Fuqua sales pitch, instead it was 3 days of personal guidance and exposure to important ideas that would help us, regardless of where our futures would take us. The most impactful session was with the women alumnae. Anne Sempowski Ward (MBA ’04) shared an anecdote that related directly to a challenge I was facing in my professional life. I was able to connect with her after, to get her opinion on resolving the issue and all I could think was, “Wow, what an incredible person.” I could not believe that so many talented alumni came back to Fuqua to share their experiences and advice with us on a weekend, during their personal time. It felt like a family reunion, like I was meeting long lost relatives; relatives who were committed to my future success.

The workshop gave me a real feel for what it would be like to be a part of the Fuqua community — during business school and after. There were almost more alumni then prospective students, and I was impressed by their commitment to Fuqua.

My conversations with current students and alumni helped me realize that through Fuqua I could accomplish my career goals. So, even though the workshop wasn’t focused on “selling Fuqua,” it had a huge impact on my decision to attend Fuqua because it just felt right. I hope everyone attending the workshop this weekend will leave with the same euphoric feeling that I had last year. And hopefully the weather will be better, but there is rain in tomorrow’s forecast …

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