Meet The Duke Fuqua MBA Class of 2017

Duke Fuqua 2


Ask almost any member of the 2017 Class why they enrolled at Fuqua and you’ll come back to the same theme: “The People.” One of the mantras at Fuqua is this: “To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.” And Fuqua takes this team-driven model and turns it into a transformative experience that prepares students for the rigors ahead. Aiyappa Maruvanda, a Bangalore native and Accenture consultant whose bucket list includes seeing a Duke-North Carolina game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, was drawn to the school’s “focus on the growth of communities through a teamwork-based approach.” He added that such a philosophy resonated with his “experiences and my vision of the professional working environment in the future.”

In this future, there is no room for hermits who are afraid of risk, narcissists who only seek the limelight, or sharks who shirk accountability. If applicants truly want to join the Fuqua family, they need to be involved and passionate about their work and peers – no different than famed Fuqua alums like Apple CEO Tim Cook and philanthropist Melinda Gates. “I would say that of all the schools I visited, Fuqua’s community offered the best balance working hard to get things done and having fun in the process,” writes Jarrett Nobles who most recently managed corporate partnerships for the Houston Astros. “It was equally important to me that I be in an environment that would stretch me and get me out of my comfort zone as it was to be in a place where there was a strong sense of community and the people like to have fun.”

Fuqua Interior

Fuqua Interior

That said, students shouldn’t expect a homogenous team. The school adheres to the principle of “collective diversity,” observes Dean Bill Boulding in an interview with Poets&Quants, who added that “Collaboration without diversity lacks real value. We’re stronger because we’re together. And we’re stronger because we’re different.” And Fuqua has seemingly perfected the practice of this ideal, observes Mangiarotti. “I´m really comfortable around everyone, and I barely know them (the program started a few weeks ago). In Argentina, there´s a saying: “We were all cut out with the same scissors.” I feel that with the other students, from my fellow Latin Americans to my Indian classmates from the other side of the world.  Although we come from different backgrounds, different countries, and mixed life experiences, we all get along. The best part is that it’s not forced and it’s not hard, everything flows!”

Beyond their fellow students, Kim Runge, a former vice president at Wells Fargo, was amazed by how focused students are in the program. “Sitting in a class, where students do not have laptops or phones out, demonstrated the commitment to academic excellence and seriousness of purpose.” And Hunter H. Rudd, a North Carolina native who was most recently a Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant in the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), is outright giddy to be living in Durham. “The town of Durham has so much to offer the aspiring MBA candidate. For foodies, there’s an incredible selection of restaurants that seems to grow daily; beer snobs can get their fill at the exploding selection of craft and microbreweries; hikers have the Appalachian Mountains and numerous parks; beach bums have some of the best east coast’s best destinations less than a few hours drive away.”


A two-year MBA program is often viewed as a time for transformation. At Fuqua, students are treated to a 360-degree perspective that polishes them into forward thinking, people savvy, self-aware “doers” who act both ethically and globally. Elizabeth Hawkins, a Minnesota native who left Google to become a Blue Devil,” plans to use her time to reverse a career trend and become such a doer. “Each year of my professional and personal life, I become increasingly risk averse. I want to challenge myself to try new things and to not be afraid to fail.”

Dean WIlliam Boulding

Dean WIlliam Boulding

At the same time, Rudd aspires to be a living example of Fuqua’s values. “I intend to help improve my school by being an exemplar of Team Fuqua’s guiding principles: authentic engagement, supportive ambition, collective diversity, impactful stewardship, loyal community, and uncompromising integrity. After all, we each have the background experience, intelligence and character necessary to lead our Team Fuqua to be even better for future cohorts.”

And Matthew Thacker, who chose Fuqua despite being a life-long North Carolina fan and graduate, has sprinted out of the gate and has no plans to slow down until graduation. “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.” 

To read profiles of incoming Fuqua students – along with their advice on tackling GMAT, applications, and interviews – click on the student links below.

Shakira Chanrai / London, UK

Elizabeth Hawkins / Wayzata, MN

Juan Mangiarotti / Buenos Aires, Argentina

Aiyappa Maruvanda / Bangalore, Karnataka (India)

Jarrett Nobles / Washington, DC

Christa Register / Wilmington, NC

Hunter H. Rudd / Pinehurst, NC

Kim Runge / Pittsburgh, PA

Matthew Thacker / Greensboro, NC

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