When I walked through Fuqua’s doors last July, I wasn’t completely sure what this year would hold for me. Slightly overwhelmed and incredibly nervous, I went into orientation feeling like it would the first day of freshman year 2.0 where everyone was too shy to converse. I could not have been more wrong.

Everyone I spoke to felt like a friend I was catching up with after some time apart. From meeting JinJing from Shanghai, to Charles, a citizen of the UK who grew up in Canada, to Sean from New Jersey, I quickly realized this group was unlike any other I’d experienced during my undergraduate studies at Duke. The diversity of the cohort was obvious from the start, and the conversations were novel and exciting. I realized this is a special program.

The first term coursework was academically challenging, quickly pushing me out of my public policy comfort zone from undergrad. In Quantitative Business Analysis, it was all about regression and statistics. Introduction to Financial Accounting had its financial statements and intense footnotes. And in Business Communication, we were required to prepare and deliver a three-minute speech on the first day of class. While it was hard and frustrating at times, I had a strong support system to rely on. I’ve found everyone truly has the #TeamFuqua spirit. The faculty and support staff only want the best for the students, and my cohort themselves are willing to drop everything to help you learn and firmly grasp the material. The students in the MMS program are supported from all angles. It’s a completely immersive experience.

I came to Fuqua with certain expectations after my time as an undergrad at Duke. However, I found the transition to be a big one. Gone were the days of walking across the quad to my 8:30 a.m. classes and waking up for 7:00 a.m. course registration. My undergraduate experience was filled with hours on the lacrosse field and nights spent in Perkins Library surrounded by unfamiliar faces.

At Fuqua, I come to class knowing every individual in the seats that surround me, which gives me the confidence to fully participate and engage in conversation. Outside of the classroom, our student association leaders work tirelessly to provide us with events that give us a beneficial outlet. During Fall Term I, there was a kickball game held by our wellness chair that was three hours of nostalgic fun. I felt like I was back in elementary school, without a care in the world other than trying to make it to second base without being tagged out. Another opportunity we have to get to know our cohort is the bi-weekly cultural potlucks, hosted by our class president, that involve food from our classmates’ respective cultures.

a female student holding a kickball on the playing field, MMS is a special program
Revisiting our childhood on the kickball field

When I talk to those who aren’t in the program with me, I try to find the right words to explain my experience thus far. However, there really is no way to accurately encapsulate what I am a part of. A team atmosphere filled with individuals driven to master classroom topics with a yearning to learn about their fellow classmates and explore and experience opportunities within and outside Fuqua’s walls. It is truly a unique place, one that I am proud and honored to be a part of.

Fast forward from July to January—I find myself feeling empowered and incredibly grateful for my time in the program so far. From surviving the summer and fall terms, to branching out and meeting new people, to attending different social and career events, I’m completely immersed in something bigger than myself. In a few short months, I’ve found myself surrounded by some of the most talented, interesting, kind, and intelligent individuals I’ve ever met. I’m in an unmatched atmosphere that places an importance on academics, relationships, and our futures. And when I leave the building at the end of each day, I’m always excited to see what tomorrow will hold.