As my time at Fuqua comes to a close, I look back on my two years and cannot help but find the experience to be similar to the seasons. Each year is unique and comes with its own set of challenges and rewards. The first year is about acclimating to a new environment, a new city, new people, and learning how to sit in a classroom again. It’s a time of immense challenges ranging from core classes to internship recruitment. However, this year also holds some of the greatest celebrations, including finally getting to select electives after completing the core requirements and accepting an internship offer.

I like to think of the second year at Fuqua as a “chose-your-own” experience. For me, I knew that my second year was going to be centered on impact. I wanted to have a positive impact on the community that had been my support network during my first year and pay it forward to the next class. I quickly came to learn that this is what Fuqua is all about — paying it forward. Each of us at Fuqua chose to pay it forward in our own ways. That impact could mean mentoring other students, serving the Fuqua community as a club leader, or ushering in the next phase of Team Fuqua by playing a role in the admissions process to identify candidates who embody the school’s core principles. I chose to pay it forward in all three of these ways.

Mentoring Other Students

As a first-year, I had such a great role model in my COLE (Fuqua/Coach K Center of Leadership and Ethics) Fellow that I was worried about being able to make the same impact when I became a COLE Fellow. I was excited to mentor the two first-year consequential leadership (C-LEAD) teams in the same way my COLE Fellow had. Despite my initial concerns, my experience as a COLE Fellow far exceeded my expectations.

Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership & Ethics second-year MBA Fellows, COLE leadership and Coach K at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

COLE taught me how to initiate difficult conversations, foster a safe environment, and manage conflict resolution. It also allowed me to gain experience leading diverse groups of individuals from different countries, different age groups, and with different career interests. My favorite part about being a COLE Fellow was the relationships I had the privilege of building with the members of my first-year C-LEADs. The beauty of this pairing is that often I wonder if our paths would have crossed if it weren’t for COLE.

One of the many things I learned from my experience as a COLE Fellow is that you can’t always see or measure impact right away. It often becomes evident in subtle ways, whether that be as small as someone confiding in you during a difficult time or having the courage to be vulnerable during a hard conversation. However, I’ve learned that just because impact isn’t always visible right away, does not mean you are not making a difference in the lives of those around you.

Serving as a Club Leader

When I first took on the co-presidency of the FuquaFit club, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Come to find out, this experience also ended up being a kind of “chose-your-own” journey. My co-president and I sat down over the summer before our second year and outlined our goals for the club. Throughout the year, we revisited these goals and preserved to accomplish what we set out to do.

Here are just a handful of our goals:

  • Inviting Fuqua alumni from Nike and Whoop to speak to current students
  • Co-host a Veterans Day 5K race with the Duke Armed Forces Association (DAFA)
  • Offer students free Orangetheory, CycleBar, and CrossFit classes
  • Hosting fitness challenges in the Fox center
  • Gather the Fuqua members of Duke’s men’s basketball team to run a basketball boot camp
Daytime MBA students standing in a circle, receiving direction from second-year MBA student Stephanie Blair at a Duke gym

While this was my first time being the president of an organization, I can say that my biggest takeaway from this opportunity is to lead something you are passionate about. Being the president of a club can be a lot of work, but my time as the FuquaFit co-president was extremely rewarding. Many students were not aware of the club’s existence prior to this year and the club even won an MBA Association “underdog” award for exceeding expectations.

This leadership experience was rewarding to me because I learned that I can strengthen an organization, put it on the map, and in the process, exceed even my own expectations. Further, when I pair that with passion, I am unstoppable.

Shaping Fuqua’s Future

As an Admission Fellow, I had the privilege of learning about and becoming a part of Fuqua’s admission process. Part of my desire to serve in this role was due to the incredible interactions and support I received from my Fuqua interviewer, who I still keep in contact with to this day. It was their selfless desire to advise and strategize with me about ways to make my way off the Fuqua waitlist that inspired me to do the same for other candidates.

Further, after my first year, the Fuqua community became something that I deeply cherished and felt protective of. I knew that it took a certain type of student and person to succeed in the Fuqua environment. The Fuqua Admissions team is very good at selecting students with certain qualities. For example, at Fuqua, we pride ourselves on our paired principles, centered on creating and engaging with a supportive, loyal, and authentic community. We also highly tout Dean Bill Boulding’s idea of triple-threat leadership, which is having the combination of high IQ (intelligence quotient), EQ (emotional intelligence), and DQ (decency quotient). I wanted to ensure these values would live on in the classes that came after me.

I was passionate about bringing in students that I knew would be actively involved in the community, bring unique experiences to the classroom, be good teammates, and most importantly, be decent people. There is no greater honor at Fuqua than being a part of the process that will ensure the continuance of Fuqua’s legacy and I was grateful to be a part of that.

Group of Fuqua students putting their hands together in a circle in a gym at Duke University

The opportunities I have had at Fuqua to grow into the person I am today and the leader I will become throughout my career are invaluable. Fuqua offered me a safe environment to take risks and move outside my comfort zone. I truly believe that to be the beauty of a program like Fuqua. I was never once scared of failing — I knew various support networks would be there to catch me and build me back up if I did.

Coming to Fuqua was by far one of the best decisions I have made, and I could not be more excited to go out into the world and make Fuqua proud.