While MBA treks can be a fun and relaxing way to spend a break, they’re more than just vacations. Embarking on an enriching MBA trip during my second year at Fuqua taught me about leadership, organization and personal growth. I organized a memorable journey to Utah, where we explored the Mighty Five National Parks during fall break. Then, during spring break, I led a group of students on a trek to Puerto Rico. These experiences not only allowed us to immerse ourselves in nature’s wonders and some of the world’s best beaches, but they also provided invaluable lessons I may not have learned otherwise.

Fall Break Destination: Utah’s Mighty 5

As the lead organizer for our trek to Utah, I was tasked with coordinating a diverse group with different backgrounds and preferences, ensuring the seamless execution of our itinerary. This experience honed my leadership skills and attention to detail in managing logistics, budgeting, and scheduling, contributing significantly to my professional development.

Day 1

Our adventure began with a warm Team Fuqua welcome to Utah! After settling in, we broke the ice over a group BBQ. It was a great way to strengthen our connections. After the dinner we explored the resort and enjoyed a sunset walk, setting the tone for the days ahead.

Rarely things go exactly as planned, especially with the flight delays and uncertainties! The key is communication and flexibility. The team members watched out and waited for each other. They drove back and forth, showcasing flexibility and teamwork so everyone could enjoy the convenience of a safe transfer from the airport to our resort in Moab.

Amanda Shamirian and her MBA classmates holding a white flag with a blue Duke Fuqua logo on a hiking trail in Utah

Day 2

We marveled at spectacular rock formations and more than 2,000 arches at the magical Arches National Park. The day ended with dinner and preparations for more adventures to come.

During this hike, we encountered a challenging trail that some team members were hesitant to try. Through teamwork and encouragement, we all made it to the top, enjoying a breathtaking view of the sunset together.

Day 3

Canyonlands National Park offered unparalleled beauty and natural wonders. We explored the park’s districts and concluded the day with karaoke and BBQ, fostering a sense of camaraderie among the group.

Day 4

We ventured to Capitol Reef National Park, a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, and domes, showcasing nature’s beauty in its purest form.

Amanda Shamirian and her MBA classmates holding a white flag with a blue Duke Fuqua logo at an outdoor sight in Utah

Day 5

We explored Bryce Canyon, a highlight of the trip. The largest concentration of hoodoos on Earth and stunning vistas left us in awe, and the glamping experience provided a unique opportunity for team bonding.

During our glamping experience, a sudden conflict dampened our spirits. I quickly organized activities to keep everyone comfortable and entertained. As a leader on a complex trip like this one, I was important to be a quick problem-solver to keep everyone engaged and united.

Day 6

At Zion National Park, we followed paths that were walked for thousands of years, experiencing the rich history and natural beauty of the area.

On our hike in Zion National Park, we encountered a trail closure. I quickly adapted our itinerary to explore an equally stunning alternative, ensuring our adventure continued seamlessly.

As we bid farewell to the Mighty Five on Day 7, our hearts were full of memories and our minds were inspired by Utah’s wonders. This MBA trek was not just a trip but a journey of growth, learning, and unforgettable experiences.

Spring Break Destination: Puerto Rico

After successfully organizing the trek to Utah in the fall, I was excited to organize the Puerto Rico MBA trip during spring break. It was a fantastic blend of experiences, including visits to the best beaches, historic sites, boat parties, golf courses, and the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. This trip not only showcased my leadership and organization skills but also highlighted my ability to create inclusive and unforgettable experiences for everyone, regardless of their background.

Day 1

We started our journey at Luquillo Beach, known for its pristine coastline and Balneario La Monserrate. The beach offered shallow waters and beautiful pine trees. The authentic Puerto Rican street food at the kiosks added to the vibrant atmosphere, setting the tone for an exciting adventure ahead.

As we sampled these delights, we shared stories and memories, learning about each other’s backgrounds and experiences. This journey not only satisfied our taste buds but also opened our eyes to the richness of Puerto Rican culture and the diversity within our own team. It was a delicious start to our adventure, reminding us of the value of embracing different cultures and perspectives.

A group of Duke Fuqua Daytime MBA students in a historic street in Puerto Rico

Day 2

Exploring Old San Juan was a delightful experience, with its charming streets, historic sites, and delicious cuisine. We visited Castillo San Felipe del Morro and enjoyed a group brunch in the old city. Dinner at a beachfront restaurant in Condado and experiencing the vibrant nightlife further enriched our Puerto Rican experience.

During our visit to Old San Juan, it was important to the group to have flexibility while maximizing their time in the historic district. This required effective communication and a thoughtful itinerary so the group could enjoy a flexible schedule while still enjoying the activities I organized for the group.

Amanda Shamirian and her MBA classmates holding a white flag with a blue Duke Fuqua logo on a boat in Puerto Rico

Day 3

One of the highlights of our trip was the luxury yacht party, but it almost didn’t happen! When faced with a change in our yacht reservation, I negotiated with the boat rental company to accommodate our group, ensuring a seamless experience for everyone.

We enjoyed the beautiful coastline, indulged in snorkeling, and even had a surprise encounter with a baby dolphin. The evening continued with a dinner at an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant in Old San Juan, making it a day to remember.

Day 5

The trip culminated with a visit to El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. national forest system. We explored the forest’s lush vegetation, swam in its pristine waters, and even slid down a natural waterslide. The day ended with a relaxing afternoon by the beach, watching the sunset from beautiful hammocks.

The Puerto Rico MBA trip was not just a vacation; it was a transformative experience. It showcased my ability to organize diverse activities for people with different backgrounds, manage time effectively, and create inclusive experiences that will be cherished forever. As we returned home, refreshed and ready to tackle the Spring 2 term, the memories of this trip lingered, reminding us of the power of adventure and exploration.