My greatest fear in life has always been not being able to do the things I want while being my authentic self. As a queer woman in the process of coming out and earning an MBA in a new country, I was worried about being accepted and being able to live my life to the fullest, both professionally and personally.

The most pressing question on my mind: “What will my life at Fuqua and in Durham be like?”

The first week I arrived on campus, I was struck by how supportive and empowering the Fuqua community was. Our orientation week included a session about us talking about our identities, culture, and our journey. Hearing so many resilient stories from my fellow classmates during these sessions made me recognize the empathetic atmosphere Fuqua tries to nurture.

Comforted by the orientation week experience, I decided to slowly come out at the school. My roommate Simran Kaur, Daytime MBA ’24, was the first person I ever came out to at Fuqua. She was not only understanding, but she also went on to educate herself about the LGBTQ+ community to ensure she could support me. This gave me the confidence to come out to my other friends. I sought acceptance from them and I got love, life-long friendship, and support in return.  Throughout my time at Fuqua, my friends became my champions and biggest allies.  They even came out to support and celebrate with me at Durham Pride!

Coming from a conservative South Indian community, I never had an opportunity to be a part of LGBTQ+ networks in any capacity. I was unsure how I would be received by the pride community at Fuqua. I was welcomed with warm and open hands. Since day one, FuquaPride has been nothing but a pillar of support for me. I strongly felt that the club was invested to ensure its members feel supported and most importantly they have space to be themselves. Even before I started school, the club assigned me a career mentor to help me succeed in my recruiting journey. The club and Career Management Center (CMC) have been extremely helpful to all members of the pride community in gearing up us for the Reaching Out MBA conference (ROMBA).

Me (far right) and other FuquaPride members at ROMBA’22 conference at Washington, D.C.

My affirming experiences with FuquaPride and the Indus community, a diversity and inclusion club that supports students from South Asia, have motivated me to run for several student body positions at the school. Serving as a section representative has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at Fuqua. My biggest fear of not being able to do things I want to do while being my authentic self was shattered when my section mates elected me to the position. This has unquestionably been one of the most empowering experiences of my life. This experience showed me that the Fuqua community sees who I am as a person rather than my gender or sexual orientation.

Section 2 cabinet of the Daytime MBA class of 2024
Me (front middle) with the Section 2 cabinet

I found a strong allyship at Fuqua. One of my fondest memories at Fuqua was when my section mates came out to support me and my fellow section mate, Vann Vicente (Daytime MBA’24), at the annual Coming Out Day panel where we both shared our coming out journeys!

Vann Vicente and I (middle) speaking at the Coming Out Day panel
Vann Vicente and I (middle) speaking at the Coming Out Day panel

My journey so far at Fuqua and Durham has been extremely enriching. For the first time in my life, I get to be myself, and I can say that I’m truly happy.