Whether you’ve started or are about to begin your Fuqua Weekend Executive MBA experience, you’ll hear the constant guidance to make the most of every moment. For many working professionals, it’s the only time you’ll be able to focus so intently on sharpening your skillset; the only time you’ll be able to surround yourself with such an incredibly inspiring team; the only time before this unique chapter in your life closes, and you move back to the regular cadence of your pre-Fuqua career and life. 

As I near the twilight of my time at Fuqua, I can attest to the life-changing experience that only the Weekend Executive MBA learning journey can provide. Embracing being, “the only” is what makes the Fuqua experience so unique, too. Fuqua is the only school to focus on IQ, EQ, and DQ or decency quotient. Duke is the only school that I felt truly embraced the team, going so far as having a name for it: Team Fuqua. When I came to visit, Fuqua was the only school to have a former Navy SEAL in the group.

However, I’ve also come to realize the power in embracing a reframing of the concept of “the only” more fully, and of flipping it on its head. I encourage everyone, whether at the beginning or the end of their Fuqua journey, to reframe it in your own lives as well. We each have the power of combining all the unique, diverse, differentiated aspects of our true selves. We can refocus our internal dialogues around what makes us special, around what makes us, “the only” and in doing so, we reframe how we see our experiences at Fuqua in our teams and in our own lives. 

As the only person with an art and creative background on my team and one of the only creatives in the entire class, I was worried that perhaps I wouldn’t fit in or be as helpful to the team as others. Simply put, I was worried I would be the only one that wouldn’t measure up. However, I quickly realized that the team excelled when we all leaned into what made us unique. 

My background as a writer enabled me to help enhance the team’s cases. At the same time, the only chartered financial analyst on the team leaned in to help level up our team’s quantitative capability. The only former Marine on the team harnessed big-picture awareness that helped us tackle teambuilding challenges.

The power of being “the only” isn’t just anecdotal, either. As we learned in our “Leadership, Ethics and Organization” class, teams with divergent viewpoints and approaches to predicting future outcomes statistically outperform homogenous teams. 

If you’re considering going down the journey of getting your MBA, or you are currently in the program, I’d encourage you to find what makes you “the only” in the room, in the meeting, in the cohort, and nurture it and lean into it. While we all can’t be the best at something, we all can be the only one in the room who sees the challenge and the opportunity to solve it just the way you do.

That uniqueness is potent. That individuality is powerful. I believe it’s exactly what business, and the world, needs to create a truly inclusive and equitable future for everyone.