When I start any adventure, the memories about my first impressions and thoughts are often a bit blurry because I usually get overexcited and try to pay attention to everything around me, with the disastrous result of not remembering anything. And MQM isn’t an exception—I still struggle trying to remember first impressions about my classmates, many of whom are now close friends.
But there is one thing I remember clearly from those first days, which is what our assistant dean, Jeremy Petranka, told us during our orientation day: “Throughout this 10 months, you will never feel that everything is under your control, that you are quite there.”
At first, I didn’t really understand what he meant—but it didn’t take me too long to figure out. Two weeks into the program, and I was already feeling pushed to the limit trying to keep up with everyone in the class (they were all so smart!) and by the rigorous academics. Fortunately, Fuqua is built to support everyone who decides to join. Your teammates will become much more than just friends, and will always be there to help you—as well as the professors, who will tirelessly keep explaining a concept until you understand it.
However, throughout the summer Term 1, I realized how important it was for everyone to balance the long study hours with some fun and stress-releasing activities. During my undergraduate experience, I always looked for a way to have a positive impact on the day-to-day life of my friends and classmates. So when I heard about the position of wellness chair for the MQM Association (our student leadership team), I jumped at the opportunity.
What does the wellness chair do? When I’m asked this question, I like to say, “I organized activities to take care of my classmates’ mental and physical wellbeing.” What this meant in practice is that I organized both indoor and outdoor activities that tried to make my classmates forget—or at least stress less—about those assignments that were due at midnight!
The events I organized ranged from big outings to small activities. The small ones included adult coloring sessions, wellness workshops with Duke’s counselors, and even in-class karaoke with one of our professors (he was particularly into karaoke). Some of the bigger events included massages, ping-pong tournaments, paintball, and zip-lining.
The zip-lining event was a particularly fun one. We organized it on a Saturday morning at X-Treme Park Adventures, a site located 30 minutes away from Fuqua, and a group of 35 MQM students decided to join. For most of them, it was the first time doing such an activity, and we were all very excited! The instructors at the park turned out to be very friendly, and we had a great time zipping over six tracks at 30 miles per hour!
Thinking back to Jeremy’s words, I can now agree that he was right when he said that business school can be very demanding at times. However, Fuqua is not only about academics. There’s plenty of opportunities organized by the students to relax and spend some quality time with your friends, both inside and outside this building.