Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ample Opportunities for Service and Growth

Ahkesha Murray is a 26-year-old first-year MBA candidate enrolled in the Wake Forest Schools of Business full-time program. Ahkesha earned her undergraduate degree in actuarial science from St. John’s University in 2005, and she is interested in consulting and finance.
This is Ahkesha’s perspective on her first weeks in the full-time program.
“It’s like drinking from a fire hydrant.”
That is how my Managerial Economics Professor and Advisor, Ken Middaugh, described the first semester in Wake Forest’s full-time MBA program. I could not have said it better myself. However, I would not want it any other way because, frankly, I’m thirsty.
Just two weeks into the program, I’m having a hard time recounting all of the experiences and opportunities I have been privy to because it really does afford so much. Dean Steve Reinemund often speaks about students’ holistic development, and we are fortunate enough to be cared for and led by a dean who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. The Wake Forest University Schools of Business embodies the values that it preaches and, if anything is remiss, the issue is proactively mitigated.
Nostalgic musings aside, I would like to share a sampling of my experiences at Wake. Please do not consider this list to be comprehensive or final; as I type, more plans are in the works and that is part of the excitement. I will be sure to keep you well-informed of my journey and be as honest and frank as possible to provide a genuine representation of not only the Wake Forest full-time MBA experience, but the life experiences that come along with this journey as well.
So, imagine if you will…
Orientation. Our learning and growing actually began before classes started; orientation was as much a part of the value we will gain here as the formal teaching. Even though it only spanned a week, orientation was chock-full of highlights. Some of my favorite moments included: meeting students in the other graduate programs; listening to “Joker One” author, Donovan Campbell, speak candidly and with great heart about his experiences in Iraq; participating in team-building activities with my classmates and developing a charter for our study team; learning more about myself through a detailed analysis of my Meyers-Briggs personality assessment; and volunteering with Meals On Wheels during the Community Plunge.
My first classes. The first week was not so much a week as it was three days. Classes started Wednesday, Sept. 26, which happened to be the first of many highly anticipated “Donut Days” for the Graduate School of Business (I can’t spill all the goodies; you must come see us to learn more.) My class section was fortunate enough to begin our experience with the infamous Jon Pinder teaching Quantitative Methods (not a cake course) and my eyes and ears have never been more open or attentive. The first wee k of classes was simply fun. Even though three short days boasted four of the eight classes we will be taking this semester, I was so glad to finally be at Wake Forest, sitting in a classroom to learn, and get this show on the road. By the end of the first week, I found myself thinking, “ok, I can do this,” and it has been my mantra ever since.
First “real” week of classes. Things started getting real this first week. I had another realization during this time and while it is not entirely “deep” or mind boggling, it has put things into perspective for me: My MBA will truly be earned outside of the classroom. Classes are from 8 am to 1 pm Monday through Friday. I may be speaking for myself, but classes are the easy part. I do need to come prepared to participate in the class discussions and listen to my professors’ and peers’ insights, however, the work I do outside of the classroom (such as readings, homework, study team projects) is where I will earn most of my MBA. The workload is nothing to scoff at; while certainly manageable, it is not something to be taken lightly. My advice going forward: Do not miss a beat; read every word, ask questions, do the homework … and then some. Wake Forest has a wealth of resources and I am fortunate to have them at my disposal.
Second full week of classes. We are half-way through the week and there is already a new buzz in the air. The Schools of Business hosted its annual Club Kickoff Fair, and we were able to learn about the clubs and student service organizations. I signed up for nearly everything just so I can get emails about the events that would be coming up in each organization, though I already realize that I will have to focus my energy on one or two specific clubs that truly interest me.
At the end of this week, the Student Government Association (SGA) will administer elections of first-year student representatives for all organizations. “Secretly,” I can tell you that I am considering putting my name on a certain organization’s ballot.
My interests truly run the gamut and my name is on the subscription lists for Babcock Women In Business (BWIB), Black Business Students Association (BBSA), Strategy and Consulting Club, Net Impact, Babcock Marketing Association (BMA), Entrepreneurship Club, Finance Club – think that’s enough? Some other hot-ticket items coming up are scheduling interviews to be on an Executive Committee for the nationally acclaimed Marketing Summit and submitting applications to be a Student Ambassador. If I do nothing else this year I want to be a Student Ambassador. During my application process, I was fortunate enough to have an Ambassador who cared a great deal for me and genuinely wanted to see me succeed so I feel obliged to pay it forward, so to speak. I find few things in life more gratifying that helping someone else shine their light.
I know that right now it looks like I have my hands, feet and elbows in too many hats. Perhaps that is the case, but Wake Forest has given me so much. I just want to give it back. Yes, I am being stretched and challenged like never before, but is that not the point? Until I find reason to do otherwise, I’m running on all cylinders, and you, ladies and gentlemen, can be my passengers.
It is now 11:43 pm, my homework is finally done, and I am due to wake up at 5:45 am, so I bid you a good night and look forward to the next chapter.

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