Class of 2014
"Yes, you read correctly, I went to UNC for undergrad and I'm now at Duke. No, I did not turn into a pile of ash the first time I entered Cameron Indoor Stadium. My Carolina Blue blood has mixed amicably well with Duke Blue."
Before the age of 18, my family and I moved 8 times with the U.S. military. My dad, a Judge Advocate General for the Army had a dynamic career, which took us from Rochester, NY, to Richmond, VA, to Panama City, Panama, and Heidelberg, Germany, just to name a few cities. My two sisters and I felt lucky to travel the world while so young, gaining an abundance of knowledge with every destination. In Panama, my older sister learned to speak Spanish, which came in handy, since her tutoring is the key reason I passed high school Spanish. While in Heidelberg, I learned to sing "Happy Birthday" in German (I'll sing it to anyone at the drop of a dime). In Richmond, my mom learned to cook baklava and arroz con gandules from some of our favorite foreign visitors. That's also where my little sister developed an unyielding obsession for manga and Korean culture. As an African American family, our childhood was rich with diversity!
Our travels inspired my desire to explore new cultures and opportunities, which is why once I got to the University of North Carolina as an undergraduate, I gluttonously consumed new experiences. I joined an African Dance Group, helped pioneer an after-school program focused on literacy and diversity, and even entered my first (and only) beauty pageant. By the time I graduated, my passion for travel, diversity, the arts, and community service was bubbling over!
To this day, should anyone approach me with an opportunity related to any of the above, it is hard for me to say "no." No wonder that within 3 months of coming to Fuqua, I said "yes" to indoor rock climbing with my section mate, to making dumplings with another one of my section mates, and committed to securing grants for a local children's performing arts center with my Fuqua on Board partner.
Despite being thrown into uncharted and, at times, unnerving environments, encouragement from my family gave me the confidence to explore new opportunities. I thank them for sculpting my risk-seeking personality and for nurturing my eagerness to learn and make an impact.
Side Note: Yes, you read correctly, I went to UNC for undergrad and I'm now at Duke. No, I did not turn into a pile of ash the first time I entered Cameron Indoor Stadium. My Carolina Blue blood has mixed amicably well with Duke Blue.
Why I Chose Fuqua
When I began researching business schools 3 years ago, Fuqua stood out to me. I was drawn to the school's top-tier faculty, experiential learning opportunities, strong marketing curriculum, and location. I recognized Fuqua had the premier resources that would allow me to launch a successful career in brand management.
A year before I clicked submit on my application, I had the pleasure of attending The Duke MBA Weekend for Women. During that weekend, I experienced Fuqua first-hand and fell in love! I immediately felt welcomed by the spirited, collaborative, genius, yet humbled community at Fuqua. From attending a mock class with Professor Christine Moorman, world-renowned marketing professor and director of The CMO Survey, to engaging in candid conversations over drinks with Association of Women in Business members, I felt inspired by and connected to Fuqua. The community was vibrant and genuine. I could see that students and faculty felt an honorable sense of responsibility for each other's learning, development, and success. After that weekend, I learned that "Team Fuqua" is more than just a catchphrase, as cliché as it sounds; it really is a way of life here.
Team Fuqua is helping to pave the way for me to achieve my goals. Team Fuqua taught me how to calculate economic value to the consumer during the marketing core class. Team Fuqua showed me how to prepare for case competitions. Team Fuqua helped prepare me for interviews with top consumer packaged good companies and land my dream offer. Team Fuqua also taught me how to create a statement of cash flows, because God knows, accounting is my Achilles heel. And perhaps most importantly, Team Fuqua taught me how to survive Campout and win Blue Devil season tickets!
By attending Fuqua, I am learning from some of the most influential professors in the world. Maximizing the power of Team Fuqua, I am also learning from some of the most talented students from around the world and will, no doubt, learn how to execute winning marketing strategies.
Leadership Attribute: Courage
Four weeks after classes began, an email went out to all first-year students. The International Programs Office was soliciting applications for Global Academic Travel Experience Team Leaders (GATE TLs). The email outlined that TLs would be responsible for coordinating travel and logistics for the in-country company visits and social/cultural events for approximately 30 classmates. Students could apply to lead a trip to a plethora of countries, including China, South Africa, and India.
I desperately wanted to lead the China GATE and was excited, yet scared by the realization that this was my chance. My angst in applying came from 3 main facts: I didn't study abroad in undergrad, I speak some Spanish and not a lick of Chinese, and the farthest east I have ever traveled is the Czech Republic. Nonetheless, I mustered up the courage to submit an application anyway. My co-leader, David Yao, and I completed the entire interview process and landed the job! Students have high expectations for GATE trips and David and I have the enthusiasm and motivation to exceed their expectations. We want to ensure our fellow classmates have an amazing experience to add to the legacy of learning and fun of GATE.
When I decided to come to Fuqua, I made a promise to myself to take advantage of opportunities that would stretch me, take me outside of my comfort zone, and groom me to become a more courageous leader. Serving as a GATE Team Leader to China is allowing me to do all the above.
Five Random Things about Me
- At a work conference a few years ago, I volunteered to go up on stage to be hypnotized. Apparently, I ended up dancing the robot in front of everyone—and I do mean everyone, from senior execs to my peer associates.
- My sisters and I have the same initials: KDJ. Since there are no boys in my family, and my dad could never have a "junior" we were all given his initials.
- I have a thing for fun, colorful, decorative socks (the kind with neon colored ducks or multicolor stripes and polka dots). Somehow, wearing them makes the world seem just a little bit brighter and joyful. So all the way through undergrad, I would wear a pair of fun socks on days that I'd have a big test. They reminded me to not stress out too much and to relax.
- I've known my best friend since I was 4 years old, and it just so happens we have the same name (Kristin and Krystin). You would be surprised at how many people have asked us if we are twins, not because we look alike, but because we have the same name … odd!
- For spring break this year, I went to South Africa. While there, I fell in love with Cape Town, the beaches, the people, the food, the vibe, all of it! I'm now convinced that I'm destined to live there one day.
What I Love About Durham
At first glance, Durham may not seem like the most exciting city, but it truly has a lot to offer: great food, sports, bars, weather, dynamic people, and diversity. Durham has been rapidly changing over the past few years. A number of businesses have popped up, breathing new life into the city. Interestingly, a number of the new spots are start-ups by grads who fell in love with the city and saw its full potential.
I love that on any given day I can get into just about anything. I can take a Traditional West African dance class at the community center 2 miles down the road. I can grab lunch at Dame's Chicken and Waffles in downtown Durham. I can relax at West End Wine Bar. I can salsa the night away at Cuban Revolution and try to avoid crushing my partner's toes, while learning new steps and turns.
Durham may not be the biggest, most established metropolitan locale, but there's so much to do, and that's what makes it wonderful. Its changing landscape reveals that it's ripe for those who want to make an impact, and it's the perfect place for leaders of consequence.
Bottom line: Durham is dynamic.