The admissions process is about showcasing an applicant’s greatest strengths, interests and values. The random things essay is a unique way for Fuqua’s Admissions team to genuinely get to know applicants. For applicants, it’s an opportunity for self-reflection and a platform for sharing their authentic selves.

Here are a few examples of the random things that make us who we are.

Jasmine Scheitler of the Weekend Executive MBA class of 2025 at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

Jasmine Scheitler

  1. Music is a huge passion of mine and I took piano and voice lessons throughout childhood. Witnessing the impact music had on my confidence inspired me to co-found a chapter of a nonprofit offering free lessons to grade-schoolers by partnering them with college students. Check out Musical Empowerment!
  2. My favorite way to decompress after a long day is by curling up with my pups to watch an episode of Succession.
  3. I’ve been to 27 countries and have a goal to reach all 7 continents—2 more to go!
  4. I love scuba diving. The ocean is fascinating to me. I was actually a marine biology major before I switched to economics. My favorite dive experience has been encountering a sleeping shark in a cave off the coast of Montego Bay, Jamaica.
  5. I enjoy baking for my friends and family. The biggest hit so far has been a lemon butter cake with cream cheese icing.
Javi Gonzalez kneelingnext to Syue Mountain marker

Javi Gonzalez

  1. I minored in Japanese and have a profound appreciation for languages. I was certain I would pursue languages when I started college. However, after two semesters of basic STEM courses, I found myself instead transferring to engineering. To balance the heavy technical coursework, I added Japanese language courses to my curriculum, which allowed me to graduate with a minor in Japanese. My desire for challenge, curiosity to learn, and persistence to pursue my passions carried me through this experience and continues to be a driving force in my career.
  2. I translated in my first job after graduation. Fresh into my first engineering role, I was tasked with the evaluation of a fire protection system for our client, Sasol. In addition to this technical capacity, having Japanese on my resume piqued the interest of managers on the project as our client was interested in Japanese manufacturers whose data was only in Japanese. I was tasked with translating their data, then later asked to translate other project materials from Spanish and German, the latter of which I do not speak. This led me to the office of a German project manager who later became my boss on the project. Working with him catapulted my capital projects career, and through his leadership, I was chosen as one of the first engineers to transition to Louisiana to manage the project’s construction.
  3. Completing the 150-mile, two-day BP MS150 bike ride from Houston, Texas to Austin was a significant milestone for my personal health goals. Bike MS brings thousands of people together through cycling to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research. Shortly after starting my career with Fluor in 2013, I joined the company’s MS150 team with nine other new hires. In addition to the greater purpose of raising funds for MS research, the experience allowed me to build friendships with my peers and ignited my passion for approaching fitness through a social lens. Years later, this endures as one of my primary resources for making friends and forming community.
  4. My first solo trip abroad was a formative self-reflection on confidence. In 2016, I was looking for a change in pace from the grueling hours of my field assignment in Louisiana. I planned a two-week solo trip around Taiwan, mapping out every stop using public transit and a car rental to access mountainous regions where public transit was limited. Despite my thorough research, I underestimated the driving permit requirements and found myself stranded where few people spoke English. After hours of research, I was able to map out rural bus routes and complete my planned two-day solo hike of East Asia’s second tallest mountain, Xueshan. The experience strengthened my confidence in navigating uncertainty and quickly learning a new language to communicate with strangers.
  5. I am thoroughly bewitched by all things music. In college, I assumed every 20-something in the U.S. found as much entertainment and/or quietude through listening to and experiencing (live) music. I was somewhat surprised to learn this sentiment was not universal after college; however, I also learned that once the easy access to like-minded individuals offered through college is gone, there’s deep value in the bonds formed through common interests. Some of my closest connections post-college formed through a shared appreciation for music. We’ve attended dozens of concerts, danced at music festivals in Texas, California and New York, commiserated over the reality that we may not get Taylor Swift’s 2023 tour tickets (We got tickets!), and dissected albums and Pitchfork articles about albums. Music for me fosters connection, incites curiosity, and stimulates creativity and concentration throughout my life.
Kristen Held on the NASDAQ screen in Times Square, Manhattan, New York

Kristen Held

  1. I had a startup in college that aimed to create an easy-to-use mobile application that would allow users to practice their public speaking skills.  As part of this, I received initial seed funding, incubator space at my university and participated in angel venture competitions and fairs across the East Coast. While I decided to pivot my efforts on other areas, I am interested in start-ups and a future career change! 
  2. If you need a Fuqua classmate who knows everything there is to know about theme parks (think Disney and Universal across the globe), I am your girl. My dream job would be to design theme parks, and create the immersive storytelling you experience when visiting. I typically go to Disney a few times a year and have likely been upwards of 30+ times. 
  3. I have played several instruments in my lifetime. The grand total right now is 7! 
  4. Growing up, I played in a competitive chess league. Two things I learned from this experience is that chess is a wonderful game that applies to many different things in life, and children can get very passionate about it. 
  5. I have rung the opening bell at NASDAQ in Times Square! 
Turner Miller with his wife and child on the beach

Turner Miller

  1. I was the first of my family to attend college. I am the youngest of six children and grew up in extreme poverty. Higher education was not something seriously discussed in our house or even community. For some, going to college is simply the next step after high school, but for me, it is still the achievement of which I am most proud. The fact that I am working toward my MBA at Fuqua would be inconceivable to my younger self.
  2. I attended a Spanish immersion school from kindergarten through eighth grade. My teachers spoke exclusively in Spanish for every subject except for an English class. Even in high school, history class was in Spanish. I have not used it enough and my fluency has faded but I can still get by. I went to Mexico City this past summer and it all started to come back to me, so maybe there is still hope.
  3. I had perfect attendance at school through eighth grade. For some reason, my mom was fixated om me not missing school for any reason. Again, I had five siblings and, confoundingly, this only applied to me. I believe I received a certificate every year, which I am not sure is commensurate with the achievement. I only ever missed one day in high school as well. Either way, to this day, I feel guilty if I take a sick day.
  4. I am an amateur bartender. I want to stress the amateur part; I am not cool enough to have ever worked in a bar. During the COVID-19 shutdown, while others were baking bread and riding on their Peloton, I started experimenting with making cocktails. While I enjoy making drinks with tequila and gin most, my specialty is an espresso martini. My tip for the readers—use only real espresso and swap rum for vodka the next time you make one.
  5. I learned to play guitar in college. I feel like most people take up instruments early in life, but I always wanted to learn guitar and decided it wasn’t too late. I am not particularly good, but I might as well be Jimmy Page to my son when I am playing him the Jurassic Park theme song.