Meet The Duke Fuqua MBA Class of 2017

Matthew Thacker

Matthew Thacker 

Duke University, The Fuqua School of Business 

Hometown: Greensboro, North Carolina

Undergraduate School and Major: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Double Major in Economics and Peace, War, and Defense.

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: I came to Fuqua immediately after completing my undergrad at UNC.  Prior to attending UNC I was in the U.S. Army for 10 years. My function in the Army was reconnaissance and surveillance as a Cavalry Scout. Within this function I served as a Section Leader, Senior Scout and lastly as a Drill Sergeant.

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? I had an extremely short turnaround time (two months) after deciding to apply to business school and round two admission deadlines. I decided to take both the GMAT and GRE, hoping that if I fell short in one, my score in the other would compensate. My recommendation would be to be methodical in your preparation. For me, being methodical meant taking a practice GMAT almost every evening for about a month as well as preparing for the GRE within that same period. I wanted my actual GMAT and GRE to feel as comfortable as possible. By taking the exam in its entirety several times, I walked into the testing center and was prepared not only for the exam material but the length and transitions in the exams.

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? Location and fit were the most important factors in my decision process. I knew that I wanted to stay in North Carolina. After visiting Fuqua, I knew that it just felt like the right place for me. I really didn’t have the opportunity to do so, but I would recommend visiting as many schools as possible. On your visit, play close attention to not only the school, but also the community. Business school provides an opportunity to become a consequential member of your community and you should pick the location that makes you most comfortable, an area that you would feel at home.

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? Within the entire process, I would recommend just being authentic. I think it really shows when you make genuine statements and engagements versus saying what you think others want to hear in the process. I would also recommend reaching out to current students in the program and asking for help with admissions essays, tips for interviewing and what recommenders to use. Connecting with veterans at the schools where I applied helped me in my preparation and enabled me to feel comfortable and prepared.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I was first introduced to Fuqua through a staff member at a graduate school Q&A discussion at UNC.  From the moment that I met staff from Fuqua, I felt welcomed. After attending a veteran recruiting event, I knew it was the school for me because it was so inclusive.  The students and faculty at Fuqua just seemed to fit my personality; I felt that they were just like me. I say all these things recognizing that I attended UNC and grew up a Tarheel.  Though somewhat awkward for me to say, Duke and Fuqua make me feel at home. Rankings, scholarship offers, and other metrics are important, but you just can’t downplay the qualitative aspects of business school.  Fuqua is obviously a great program, but most importantly it’s the best program for me.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? I want to challenge my notion of myself. I want to have new experiences, place myself in uncomfortable situations, and transform myself into a stronger leader. My belief is that this process requires both success and failure.  At the end of my time, I would like to look back and see that all of my experiences shaped me into someone that I was not in the beginning. I look at business school as the last great opportunity to test and change myself. I don’t know where this journey will lead me, but when I graduate I want to look back and know that I pushed myself everyday.

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