In 2013, I set some big goals for myself. Two of those goals ended up becoming my biggest achievements for the year: I was accepted into the MMS: Foundations of Business program and I ran my first half marathon. In some ways, both seem like activities you might do on your own — filling out an application and crossing a finish line — but I found that without a community, I wouldn’t have succeeded.

running sneakers
Decked out for the marathon with my shiny, new Duke blue laces.

Soon after arriving at Duke in July, I signed up for the first half-marathon I could find in Durham, the Bull City Race Fest. I entered with some friends from my undergraduate program. I was pretty new to competitive races and only had a couple 5Ks under my belt, so it made sense to have company. During a tutoring session for a MMS class, I mentioned my training to Michael Moverman, who happened to be one of Duke’s cross country and track athletes. Michael shared some tips with me and offered route suggestions. Every few weeks, we would talk over my training during the short breaks between classes and I continued to receive great, great insights from him.

After weeks of running around the beautiful Duke campus, I mentioned my newest route to a classmate named Kristy McDaniel. I told her about my plans for the half marathon and Kristy enthusiastically signed up for it, too. We started training together and I was so glad to have a partner who had run several half-marathons before. She kept me accountable when I didn’t feel like running. I was more motivated to run with someone else who could also lend an understanding ear when I needed to gripe.

I had been training for weeks and the race was soon after Fall 1 exams. I felt that even though I didn’t follow my training schedule perfectly, I did the best I could while studying for a master’s degree. The day before the race, another MMS track student-athlete, Audrey Huth, handed me a handwritten note with a shoelace bow and wished me luck on my race. I was so touched by her gesture. When I got home, I put my new sparkly Duke blue laces in my running shoes. When the road got rough during the race, I only had to look down to remember there were a bunch of people cheering for me in spirit, even if we were all on Fall Break.

And I did it! I ran the half and I have my first finisher’s medal to prove it. Along the 13.1 miles across downtown, Trinity Park, and even Duke’s own campus, I reflected on my path to Durham and how I made it from term to term. I realized that Team Fuqua is a community full of mentors, peers, and cheerleaders. I know that I wouldn’t have succeeded in MMS or in the marathon without this support network. You may not discover this important lesson as you apply for admission, but you can expect to receive the same support as I did from Team Fuqua once you’re here — regardless of your goal — and its worth its weight in gold.