Why did you choose to come to business school? Why Fuqua?
As a veteran who enlisted after dropping out of college following 9/11, I gave up a bright future in the commercial world for a chance to fight the battle that defined my generation. After a decade of service, I realized that I wanted to have the tools necessary to have the same impact on the business landscape as I did in so many far-flung regions of the world as a U.S. Army Green Beret. However, what I didn't want to leave behind in my transition from service to school and beyond was a sense of teamwork, comradery and pride. I found the opportunity at Fuqua to fulfill those needs surpassed the offerings of other top MBA programs. After visiting, meeting students and experiencing all the school has to offer an aspiring business professional, it was an easy decision.
How did your scholarship through the Yellow Ribbon program influence your decision to come to Duke?
The Yellow Ribbon is a program developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that provides scholarship funds for veterans attending private universities and graduate programs. To defray the cost of attendance, the VA and the institution commit matching funds to support student veterans. Fuqua has committed to provide matching scholarship funds for any student in any program who qualifies for Yellow Ribbon funding. Honestly, without the Yellow Ribbon program, my decision to attend a top MBA program like Duke's would have been greatly affected.
How has your military experience shaped your business school journey? How have you been involved with activities for veterans at Fuqua?
First and foremost, Fuqua's veterans are generally a bit older than our average classmates and a bit more experienced in the workforce. Because of this we bring a great deal of patience and calm to what can, at times, be a chaotic academic and recruiting ride throughout your first year. Additionally, as a veteran, I bring with me an appreciation for the value of teamwork in tough situations and the knowledge that working in diverse teams produces a better result than working in homogenous ones.
During my time at Fuqua, I served as a Duke MBA Armed Forces Association admissions cabinet member to ensure that prospective veterans understand how to navigate the admissions process, specifically how to translate their military experience on the application and in interviews. I also co-led a veterans professionalization program called F.I.V.E. Star Transitions which helps veterans understand the career process in the commercial marketplace through help with networking, resume-writing, and mock-interviews.
What experiences have you had that capture what makes Fuqua so special? What has surprised you or surpassed your expectations?
To summarize some of my personal experiences, I'd say it comes down to four general categories. First, is the incredible diversity of people who make up my class. I've traveled the world extensively and truly appreciate working across and within different cultures. However, I've never had the chance to interact so authentically, with the chance to learn and appreciate one another, than I have with my Fuqua classmates.
Second is the diversity of experiences this array of classmates brings to every interaction, be it one-on-one, in a small team, or in the classroom. For example, one of our first assignments in a class was to give a two-minute presentation about something that changed your life. In my small group, I had a Kyrgyzstani revolutionary supporter who drove an ambulance on the front lines, another student who broke one of the largest government scandals in China for their major, state-run news network, and yet another who survived for three days after a plane crash in Alaska with his father. Needless to say we were astounded.
Next, I've been happy to see that the school truly believes that managers and leaders in business can win the right way. I personally believe that business can be a significant force for good, not just for investors and capital holders, but also for customers and stakeholders. Being exposed to the cutting edge business techniques that will define how businesses operate successfully in a world with changing perceptions of what a business should be has been an incredible experience.
Last, and most importantly, at Fuqua we've focused our personal development on our abilities as managers and leaders to move teams forward. Fuqua is a place where teamwork isn't just marketing speak. We actively work to develop not only as good leaders of teams, but also as good team members. For me this is important because the challenges of the business environment today require ever more collaboration across functions, specialties, languages, and experiences. This requires a leader who can maximize the value of each team-member, not just their own.
What would you like to say to the donors who have helped to make your Fuqua experience possible?
First and foremost, thank you! On behalf of myself and my classmates in the Classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018, we sincerely appreciate it. Business school is not just a journey from point A to B, it is a process that prepares you for every step you take professionally and personally moving forward. By investing in Fuqua, you are investing in a better future for each and every one of our students. Additionally, with Fuqua's focus on creating a diverse environment, doing business the right way, and creating leaders who can maximize the value of the teams they are a part of, we are setting a strong foundation for the future of business. Those future businesses will solve the common customer problems of today and will be better positioned to solve the problems yet to come thanks to your contributions.