When you think of graduate students at business school, I’m sure you think of people with backgrounds related to finance, economics, and maybe even engineering. Right?


As the business world is growing and evolving, it is constantly seeking individuals from a wide array of different backgrounds to meet increasingly specialized needs. So B-schools are searching for people with more unique backgrounds, like me. That’s how I ended up here at the Master of Management Studies program at Duke.

Let me give you a little background on myself. I was originally born in England, and I spent the first 10 years of my youth shuffling back and forth between England and the U.S. (My dad worked for IBM, so Research Triangle Park was what drew my family to finally settle here in North Carolina). I went on to earn my bachelor’s in Fashion and Textile Management at North Carolina State University. This is really just a fancy way of saying that I majored in fashion design. I learned so much about the fashion industry at NC State, both through my classes and extracurricular experiences, like planning and executing fashion shows. I even had the opportunity to intern in New York City with Diane von Furstenberg’s print design department.

But as time went on, I realized that if I ever had the intention of working in an area other than design, then I needed some more solid education related to the business world. Yes, I can design and print my own fabric, draw my own fashion illustrations, draft original patterns, and sew my own garments. But without any savvy business sense, those skills can only take me so far in life.

So that’s how I ended up here at Fuqua. Like many others in the MMS program, I am here to learn how to leverage my preexisting product development and marketing knowledge in a way that others simply can’t compete with. So I am taking classes that are not only improving both my quantitative and qualitative skills, but also teaching me how to utilize these skills in meaningful ways that will make me a valuable candidate in my future job search.

In case you’re a little skeptical about the wide variety of diverse backgrounds in the MMS program, let me tell you a little bit about my team of 6 classmates that I have worked with for the past two terms:

Team Profile

Ages: 22-25

Undergraduate Majors:

  • Fashion and Textile Management
  • Food Science
  • Finance
  • History and Math (double major)
  • Politics and Media
  • Science and Technology

Undergraduate Institutions:

  • Cornell University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Athens University of Economics and Business
  • Bennington College
  • Duke University
  • Stetson University

Spoken Languages:

  • English
  • Chinese
  • Greek
  • Russian
  • Spanish

Check out a typical class profile.

As you can see, diversity is very important to Duke, Fuqua, and the MMS program. So don’t let the name “Business School” fool you. Here, we embrace the various skills and opinions that individuals from different backgrounds can bring to the table. I will admit, I was a little unsure if I would fit in when I first started looking into the program last year. But after speaking with the amazing Admissions Counselor, Cathy, she reassured me that I was just what Fuqua was looking for. And she was right—because if that weren’t the case, I wouldn’t be here, in Durham, wrapping up my second term and eager to start my third.