It’s hard to believe that just 9 months ago I hadn’t even met any of my classmates, yet now they’re some of my closest friends. But what’s most interesting to me is how some of these friendships even started in the first place.

A couple of terms ago, I knew Capital Markets was going to be a challenge for me, so I reached out to Kevin Hoch, the Associate Director of the MMS program, to find out if he could recommend anyone as a peer tutor. He connected me with a girl I knew of, but had never talked to for more than just a “hey” in the hallway.

A good tutor and a great friend.
My peer tutoring sessions with Nancy Yu led to a great friendship.

And that’s how I got to know Nancy Yu. Even though I had never really spoken to her before and didn’t know how I felt about having someone my age go over class material with me, Nancy and I clicked right off the bat. Not only did I start to understand the course material better, but I gained so much more.

Nancy and I grew up in two completely different places, she grew up in China and I grew up in upstate New York, and our differences (and sometimes surprising similarities) have provided both of us with unique learning experiences.

For example, in the summer I planned a trip to a Durham Bulls game, where Nancy got to experience an American baseball game for the first time, with an American beer and a hot dog in hand. And then we went to a Chinese New Year celebration where I learned how to make dumplings. Nancy’s enthusiasm for Duke is infectious, and she’s encouraged me to get involved in all sorts of MMS activities and fun events. In addition, Nancy told me that the tutoring sessions have helped her to improve her English — a big plus in her opinion.

Neither one of us expected to become good friends. And our study sessions have surprisingly expanded to include other classmates. Last term, we had 8 of our friends join us to discuss the final case for our accounting class. At this point, we’ve studied for 3 different courses together, and this term will be no exception. We both agree that it’s encouraging to have someone there to push you to work harder and to learn everything that you can.

Sometimes, during our tutoring sessions, we get off track talking about the most random things, but unlike the formulas for finance that I may have already forgotten, our discussions about the differences and similarities in our childhood, educational, and life experiences are not something I’ll forget anytime soon.