As an underrepresented minority, choosing a place to invest two years of my life and personal development meant choosing a school that values my unique experience and creates a sense of community around that. When I attended the Duke MBA Workshop for Minority Applicants (Workshop) as a prospective student, I came to the understanding that Fuqua was that place. Though my research on Fuqua had heavily contributed to my desire to apply to the Daytime MBA program, attending the weekend-long Workshop is what sealed my decision. Now as a first-year student at Fuqua, having the opportunity to help facilitate this weekend for the next batch of prospective students has been one of my greatest experiences thus far.

The Experience

The Workshop is put on by the Fuqua Office of Admissions and the Black and Latino MBA Organization (BLMBAO), of which I am a member. It’s BLMBAO’s largest event of the year, and typically has around 80 prospective students, and 50 alumni returning to Fuqua to take part in the programming. The weekend consists of workshops that introduce prospective students to as many aspects of Fuqua as possible through the lens of an underrepresented minority student. Some of the workshops include, a student panel consisting of both first- and second-year Fuqua students, industry-specific career panels, mock classes, and informational sessions with the admissions office. Prospective students planning to apply in that same application year also have an opportunity to conduct their admissions interview during the weekend.

Before attending the Workshop, I had a lot of questions around exactly what business school would entail, and how it would fulfill my career and personal needs. I wanted to understand the class structure, career recruiting, what it means to have a “student-run” program, and exactly how much travel I could fit into two years. Not only did I get all of these questions answered, but I also got to meet other prospective students, alumni, and current students that would be a part of my journey if I did choose Fuqua.

The People

Joia - Minority Workshop group 2
Class of 2016 BLMBAO members with returning alumni

Though there are many informational aspects of the weekend, the thing that most impacted my decision to come to Fuqua was the people. Nothing displays “Team Fuqua” more distinctly than the relationships formed and witnessed during the weekend.

The Prospective Network:

The Workshop was my first visit to a business school to research an MBA program. I was excited to meet the other prospective students and hear some of their opinions of Fuqua and other schools that they had visited. For me, the weekend was a great opportunity to learn from those on a similar journey and provided helpful connections to current students with related career aspirations. Many of the friends that I made during the weekend are now my classmates. Sharing this experience with them—almost a year before the first day of school—gave me a small network of students to communicate with over the summer in preparation to come to Fuqua.

The Current Student Connection:

Before even arriving at Fuqua for the Workshop, you’re assigned a current student buddy who reaches out to you via email to make themselves available for questions or general chats. Having a person who you know will be looking for you in the crowded room at the first event gives you a sense of security and “Team Fuqua” from the beginning. My buddy was an amazing resource, as she connected me with other current students pursuing my desired career path as well as students involved in the school organizations that I wanted to learn more about. The best thing about the buddy relationship is that it doesn’t end after the weekend. When I came back to Fuqua for Blue Devil Weekend, it was my buddy from the Workshop that helped me find my apartment! The current student involvement in the weekend is unmatched and really gives you a sense of the investment the Fuqua community makes so that prospective students feel at home, and understand the nature of the school.

The Alumni Support:

Posing with one of my 2016 classmates as we host the Workshop closing dinner
Posing with one of my 2016 classmates as we host the Workshop closing dinner

As I stated, the most impactful aspect of the weekend on my decision to come to Fuqua was the people, but specifically the alumni. When making the decision of which business school was best for me, and worth the investment, Fuqua stood out largely because of the involvement and support of its alumni base. As a prospective student visiting Fuqua, I expected to meet the returning alumni, but never expected to develop such robust relationships. Throughout the weekend, each Fuqua alumnus that I met took significant time to understand why I wanted to be at Fuqua and whether it was a good fit for my assets. They were also eager to talk to me about their current careers, and how to go about starting my own in similar industries. When I left the weekend, I had gained relationships with Fuqua alumni open to making time in their busy schedules to speak with me during my application process, give me advice, and coach me on how to secure a seat in the Fuqua’s next incoming class. I knew that if I received this type of support as a prospective student, that to be a part of this strong dependable network would be worth the investment over a lifetime.