A Heart for Service

josh connor
Guest Blogger Josh Connor, Student Life Chair for Service & External Relations

Before coming to Fuqua, serving on the MMS Association (MMSA) Executive Board was not even remotely in my mind. I am not even sure if I was aware of its existence. Despite this fact and quite to my own surprise, I am serving as the Student Life Chair for Service and External Relations. Though entirely unplanned, this has been an incredible opportunity to gain leadership experience and demonstrate initiative even while using my interests, strengths, and passions to serve the class and to share my enthusiasm for service.

The reason I chose to come to Fuqua was for the chance to acquire skills and practical knowledge that would make my dream to use business as a platform for social change and development possible. In short, this stemmed out of a passion for service which I can trace back to my first mission trip the summer before college. During my undergraduate career at Wake Forest University, this passion grew further as I took every opportunity available to serve. Following graduation, I spent the fall interning for an international development organization specializing in sustainable development, and teaching English in Argentina. Every one of these experiences were life changing opportunities that taught me innumerable valuable and lessons that cannot be easily summarized.

I wanted to continue to serve as an MMS student, but to be honest, I only began to consider running for a position on the MMSA a few days before the elections. The Service and External Relations position, in particular stood out, and the more I read the description, the more I saw it as the perfect opportunity for me to contribute my background and to share my passion for service. My hope was that at the end of the program, we did not just exit with the academic knowledge but as leaders of character who have had their perspectives and beliefs challenged through serving others who are less fortunate, and in the process expand our capacity for compassion.

My role has two components: the service side and the external relations side. On the service side, I help organize, coordinate, or advertise a variety of service opportunities and motivate participation. So far I have had the chance to help spread the word on the Thanksgiving food drive, blood drives, and community consulting opportunities. Moreover, in the spring we’ll also have the MBA Games, which is a fundraiser for the NC Special Olympics. Teams from the MMS and MBA programs from around the country are paired with 3-5 Special Olympics athletes and compete in a variety of business oriented challenges. Additionally, after the success from last year, there is an event in February called “Stop Hunger Now” which is a day-long event during which shifts of volunteers pack lunches for the needy. On top of this, there will be a Habitat build and opportunities through FuquaCorps, a recent group started through Net Impact to better connect students with opportunities to serve. I am excited to see increasing participation from the class.

The other half of my role is to coordinate with the MBA Association reps and Duke’s other grad school programs. Through this opportunity I meet and work with MBA students whom I might not have met otherwise. In a low pressure environment, I get to collaborate on events and learn from their experiences. Additionally, in this role I was in charge of planning the MMS sponsored Fuqua Friday, which is a huge Fuqua-wide event that offered a chance to showcase the MMS class. Lastly, I attend meetings with Duke’s Graduate Professional Student Council, where I can vote on issues representing the program in matters concerning the different graduate schools.

Overall it has been a great experience to contribute in an important role, while gaining leadership experience, and experience working within an organization. It is not without its challenges, but there is a wealth to learn from it.