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Focus on Philanthropy: Supporting the Uniqueness of Team Fuqua

Isela Bahena (Daytime MBA ’04) supports the school's unique culture.

By Elizabeth Michalka — This article was originally published in the Team Fuqua alumni magazine.

February 02, 2012
Isela Bahena
Isela Bahena

Isela Bahena (Daytime MBA ’04)
Director, Asset Management & Private Equity in Energy and Infrastructure, TIAA-CREF

Donor to The Fuqua Annual Fund since 2005
Isle Maligne Society Member since 2009

As a prospective student, Isela Bahena attended The Duke MBA Workshop for Minority Applicants, one of Fuqua’s flagship events.

“When I first visited Fuqua, I felt a level of passion that the students and alumni had for the school and for each other that I just didn’t feel at other schools I visited,” she says. “There was a different type of competitiveness at Fuqua, and it was the right fit for me.”

Bahena spent a lot of time considering graduate school, visiting many top schools to get a feel for their culture. Fuqua’s team environment and the warmth and genuine care she felt from the community ultimately won her over.

“I felt like I got a hug when I went on campus,” she remembers. “That Team Fuqua attitude lives on for years beyond graduation—seven years out, and I still feel it. That’s what keeps me involved, and why I believe it’s important to contribute to the school.”

She provides consistent financial contributions, and regularly attends Isle Maligne Society events to reconnect with other alumni and to stay informed on school activities.

“I had an opportunity to increase my financial support during a time when alumni donations were down. Because of the economy, others may not have been able to donate,” Bahena says. “My MBA brand is only as good as the school, and I want to help maintain the school—financial giving is one way to do that.”

Some other ways include acting as a Volunteer Alumni Career Fellow for the MMS: Foundations of Business program, through which she works with students to hone their resumes and cover letters, and helps them build interviewing skills. She also participates in recruiting events, including the Duke MBA Workshop for Minority Applicants, which is near and dear to her heart.

“It’s so rewarding to go to the minority weekend and see the enthusiasm of the new students,” she says. “When you get a lot out of something, you also feel a need to give back. I definitely got a return on my investment from Fuqua, and now it’s my turn to give back. Fuqua has something unique, and it’s worth continuing to invest in, both with my time and financially.”