It’s 6:15 a.m. and the blaring alarm jolts me out of bed for the start of my elective residency. I’m tired and cranky, but I keep focused on the goal at hand. All champions need to train for something and our gold medal? Artisan donuts.

The Weekend Executive MBA run club meets at 7 a.m. and begins our 3-mile route to Durham’s famous Monuts Donuts for a sweet start to the day. We carb up and Uber back, just in time to shower and head to class.

Michelle Bandklayder with her EMBA classmates at Monuts in Durham

It’s 9 a.m. and I take a seat with my team in the classroom. Professor Jeannie Holmes starts by reviewing the case we read before class. Once you’ve made it past the required Fuqua courses, you can choose your classes for the elective residencies. I selected the course Diversity and Talent Management where we explore the world of human resources. Class is largely discussion-based, so I learn as much from my classmates’ experiences as I do from the professor.

During the residencies, classes run in 2-hour blocks with a 15-minute break. Snacks and coffee are always available to keep us fueled for learning. After class, I meet briefly with my team to discuss our approach to our final project—a comparison and analysis of two companies’ diversity, equity and inclusion strategies.

It’s 12:30 p.m. when I head to the JB Duke Marketplace for lunch. I catch up with friends and meet a few classmates from the Global Executive MBA class I haven’t met before. We bond over our shared experiences at Fuqua and love of the Marketplace’s homemade chips. Everyone becomes fast friends.

I skip out of lunch a little early to check out the therapy dogs—two pups and a cat are here to provide some de-stressing cuddles. Each residency there are different activities to enjoy. From food trucks to chair massages, peer or professor-driven talks to headshots… there isn’t much downtime here!

With a newfound sense of calm thanks to a Frenchie named Sam, I head to my afternoon class. My second class is negotiations, and in every residency class, we participate in a different simulated negotiation. I secretly hope for an easy partner but laugh when I’m paired with a peer who works in mergers and acquisitions, knowing he’ll bring real-life experience to our simulation (and undoubtedly crush me).

After class I make my way to the JB Duke lobby where all my peers are working on homework, catching up on emails, or just chatting with a drink from the lobby bar. We make plans to go off campus for dinner and enjoy the culinary scene in downtown Durham. Viceroy and Mother and Sons are personal favorites, but tonight we head to Hutchinson’s Garage for pizza.

Michelle Bandklayder with her EMBA classmates at a restaurant in Durham

It’s already 7 p.m., but the night is young. Duke basketball is playing against Miami, so we head to a local bar the Daytime MBA students go to for all Duke games. We pretend we’re in college again and shout at the TV while drinking our cheap beers. A Duke win and the whole bar sings! It’s getting late, but someone mentions Shooters. Shooters is a famous Durham bar complete with a mechanical bull. While I’m tired from a long day of classes, I can’t say no to dancing with friends. Like the “type A” MBA candidates we are, someone organizes the Shooters bus to pick up our whole group and take us there. We dance the night away, knowing that our time together is precious, and we don’t have class until 10:30 a.m. the next day!