As Duke Masters of Management Studies (MMS) students reach the program’s homestretch—with 3 of the 5 semesters now complete—many look back on the past months, thankful for the opportunities that Fuqua has given us academically, professionally, and socially.

As the New Year begins, I find myself reflecting on how thankful I am for the friendships that I have been able to create within the great MMS Class of 2016. After all, relationship building is the key to success in business school.

Benefits of a Diverse Fuqua Community

Without doubt, tangible benefits exist for those willing to reach out and connect with as many people as possible during their time at Fuqua. The collective diversity of the MMS program and the school as a whole provide students with a wealth of opportunities to learn more about individuals’ personal, academic, and professional backgrounds. Making friends with my fellow team members has also allowed me to look forward to our group assignments as opportunities to help and learn from each other.

Furthermore, getting to know students and faculty throughout Fuqua may help one make a more informed decision about a particular industry, company or job offer. For example, Fuqua Fridays bring MMS students, MBA students, faculty, and staff together at the end of every week to foster and bolster the strength of the entire Fuqua community. Having dinner and drinks with everyone at Fuqua produces such a positive energy, because it strengthens ties among students, professors, and staff alike.

Activities that Help Build Relationships

The relationship building process can be difficult for some though, especially when immersed in a new group of people in an unfamiliar environment. Yet beginning during the program launch, Fuqua ensures that everyone feels comfortable spending time with their new classmates and team members. Our very first Team Dynamics exercises and Section Olympics, for instance, helped us all to learn about each other in a fun, engaging way that set the tone for how our relationships would grow throughout the year.

For me personally, however, the graduate student campout for Duke Men’s Basketball season tickets created the best opportunity for me to bond with my classmates. In early October, groups of students begin setting up tents, unpacking moving trucks, and getting all the food and drink necessary for the 48-hour marathon for a chance to win season tickets to home basketball games.

Spending 48 hours in that camp was one of the most unique opportunities for me to get to know my fellow classmates while also meeting students from the different graduate schools at Duke. Similar to Fuqua, the campout experience fostered a sense of camaraderie among all the graduate students who were a part of the same mission—to win those tickets!

When Thanksgiving came around, our MMS class put together a potluck dinner where nearly our entire class joined for a night of unique cuisines from different cultures, and for a final social gathering before we scattered for Thanksgiving break.

Once we returned to Fuqua though, time simply flew. Between wrapping up classes, studying for final exams, and finding time to enjoy the MMS Winter Formal, we certainly learned to persist through Fuqua’s challenging academic environment while enjoying the process with our friends and classmates.

At this point during our time at Fuqua, it only seems natural that we embrace the personal progress we have all made. Yet we must also look forward to the remainder of our time and try to spend it with classmates with whom we may stay connected for years to come. After all, the friends we make today will become the start of our professional network tomorrow.