This was not the spring and summer my classmates and I envisioned.
As MBAA Vice President for Student Life, I was excited to get started with several projects on campus that appeared to be on hold. But our needs as humans—students—a community—have not changed, only the format has. These unprecedented circumstances afford a unique opportunity to get creative in bringing at least some of those projects to life.
It began with a commitment to keep Fuqua Fridays going, in virtual, form through the Spring II term. Starting with a toast from beloved faculty, staff, and students, those who joined each week were afforded a new and structured way to connect with community members. During the “Love Is Blind” themed Fuqua Friday, I had participants change their Zoom profile picture and name and randomized small groups for conversations. Another week, classmates participated in a Quarantine Qook-Off, using only what they had in their home to craft delicious and creative dishes—an entertaining show for all who joined to watch. The pandemic became the catalyst for the Fuqua Friday redesign that I envisioned as vice president.
As the school year drew to a close, I and my fellow MBA Association co-presidents Mike Treiser and Sarah Izzo agreed that we needed to put together ongoing structures to help keep us connected through this long summer. What emerged is Fuqua Summer Programming. At least five days per week, the community is invited to events with opportunities to socialize and learn. These span from (socially distant) buddy walks, student-led SQL and PowerPoint tutorials, workouts led by members of our FuquaFit club, frank conversations about how to keep a routine and healthy diet, Tuesday night Trivia, and academically enriching talks from professors and alumni.
A special aspect of these events is that all are welcome, including current students, the recently graduated Class of 2020, and—now—incoming students. My hope is that beyond helping people stay occupied and feeling supported, beyond enabling connections with current friends and acquaintances, these events also serve as a bridge to developing relationships that might not have had the chance to ever spark under normal circumstances.
The effort that this has taken is not small but has been totally worth it. We’ve never lived through a summer like this before and we don’t know yet exactly what our peers are going to need. But we now have the structures in place to meet and stay connected and intellectually engaged through our student life events. Not only is this important for the community of MBA students, but for us, the organizers, it has been a formative experience for our own development as leaders in situations for which there is no script.