I remember barely being able to sleep approximately two weeks before MMS orientation in July. I couldn’t believe that I, a sworn ‘anti-anything that has to do with numbers’ student was about to embark on her newfound journey to business school. At a prestigious school like Fuqua nonetheless!

The move to Durham? A piece of cake. Making new friends? I was sure I could handle that. My biggest fear before starting my MMS journey was actually the transition to more math-heavy analytical courses, requiring skills I don’t consider to be my personal strengths.

I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2019 with a bachelor’s in foreign affairs and East Asian studies. However, I knew that I wasn’t tapping into my full potential, or honestly, my true passions. After an internship, where I got a taste of digital marketing, I knew I had to make the transition from politics and social sciences to business. One thing led to another, and I found the MMS program and quickly applied. I was absolutely ecstatic when I was accepted. It felt like it was a positive sign that I was making the right decision and moving towards a new goal.

During this time period, I pushed down my practical worries and didn’t think about the implications of attending Fuqua. I would have to delve into topics I’ve historically struggled with, but it didn’t hit me until right before orientation that maybe I wasn’t cut out for subjects like finance and statistics. I automatically assumed that every incoming student would have a better foundation than I did and that I would have to push myself to be able to even slightly catch up to my peers.

When I finally arrived at orientation I realized that so many of my fears were unfounded. While yes, there were students with accounting, finance, and statistics backgrounds, I was not alone. A substantial amount of my peers were in the same boat as me and had the same exact fears. This instantly alleviated some of my anxiety—everything was going to be OK! I wasn’t the only one stressing out of my mind about classes, and I was even able to make new friends by confessing my internal struggles.

When classes finally began I further realized that my initial skepticism about my own strengths and weaknesses was also incorrect. I learned that my strengths balanced out those of my teammates, and together we built a strong foundation with which to tackle the new material together. Yes, there are times where I did struggle with the material, but with the help of my team and friends, I was able to understand and pass my classes. The Team Fuqua value of supportive ambition really shines, and the entire MMS class is truly committed to helping each other succeed and pass. 

Ariel posing for a photo in front of Duke's iconic gothic architecture and brick structures; the transition from social sciences to business
On Duke’s campus in 2020

To all those who are nervous, worried, or even apprehensive about the MMS program due to their educational background don’t worry, you’re in the same boat with MMS students, past, present, and future. From art to math and even political science, the MMS class is full of students with diverse backgrounds, and a significant portion of them are experiencing those same doubts. Transitioning to Fuqua is not as difficult as it may seem. The staff, professors, and fellow students are welcoming, supportive, and there for you every step of the journey.

If you’re currently facing these doubts, I strongly encourage you to apply! Don’t let your fears stop you from taking the next step towards your future goals. I have no regrets in taking part of the MMS experience and hope that the admission of my fears will alleviate a potential new MMSer’s fears as well! 🙂