Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Travis Beach, Duke University (Fuqua)

Travis Beach

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

“Veteran aiming to transition into health care who enjoys helping others and the world of politics.”

Hometown: Cold Spring Harbor, New York

Fun Fact About Yourself: I learned the Zulu language while studying abroad in South Africa.

Undergraduate School and Major: Connecticut College, Anthropology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United States Army Special Forces Communications Sergeant (Green Beret)

The MBA program is renowned for its “Team Fuqua” culture, which is predicated on six paired principles: Authentic Engagement, Supportive Ambition, Collective Diversity, Impactful Stewardship, Loyal Community, and Uncompromising Integrity. Which of these resonates most with you – and what does that principle demand of you as a Fuqua MBA? Authentic Engagement comes to mind immediately. I have been a closeted gay man for most of my life. I came out to close family and friends in recent years, but I was not out at work. This was a choice I made at the very beginning of my career and continued for my seven years in the army. After learning about the community at Fuqua and speaking with students from so many backgrounds, I saw strong intersectionality between affinity groups and felt comfortable expressing myself. For example, FuquaPride hosts a drag show with members of the Duke Armed Forces Association (DAFA) being one of the most participatory groups. Although this is just one example of a community that promotes inclusion and acceptance, it was very relevant for me because I was committed to engaging in an environment where I could be authentic about my true self as a former Green Beret and a LGBTQ+ identifying person. Now that I am at Fuqua, I can live the principle of Authentic Engagement with a commitment to the veteran and LGBTQ+ communities both at Duke and the larger Durham community.

What word best describes the Fuqua MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Considerate is the word I would use to describe the MBA students and alumni I have met. Through the entire admissions process and over the summer, Fuquans always responded to any correspondence. Furthermore, both groups reached out to me—unprompted—to see how I was navigating the application process or after being accepted. Everyone at Fuqua was uniquely honest, helpful, and committed to growing “Team Fuqua.”

Aside from your classmates and school culture, what was the key part of Duke Fuqua’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you?  Fuqua has the world-renowned Health Sector Management program (HSM). I am committed to following my life-long interest in health care, so the prominence and established nature of the program was a key draw in my decision. HSM allows students with and without health care industry experience to build a foundation at the intersection of business and health. I feel fortunate that I can fulfill my dream ambition of working in the health care space that started when I was an 18-year-old Emergency Medical Technician, volunteering at my hometown fire department.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Duke Fuqua? It is tough to choose, so I will mention two. I am so excited to be a part of Duke Armed Forces Association (DAFA) and FuquaPride. I am most looking forward to interfacing with prospective students from both these communities, to pay it forward.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: It was serving overseas with talented, dedicated, and experienced teammates during my time in the military.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? In my personal life, I realized how much I valued the relationships I had with friends, family, and those in my military unit. I was fortunate enough to continue working in-person with my military co-workers, which proved to be an incredibly powerful lifeline. Those continued, in-person relationships helped to fill the void of not seeing my family and friends. I feel very grateful that I had the luxury of being in a safe working environment during that time. Unfortunately, I know so many others were not so fortunate.

Also, the COVID-19 pandemic reaffirmed my desire to build a career in health care and contribute positive change to a sector with considerable inequities and is more easily overwhelmed and strained than initially thought. While I knew this before the pandemic, COVID-19 demonstrated how a robust health care system is achieved through dedication and teamwork. Therefore, empathetic, diverse, and passionate leadership needs to help keep this community empowered and growing.

After Fuqua, I want to get into consulting, focusing on health care projects, with the long-term goal of becoming a C-suite executive at a hospital system.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Kellogg, Wharton, Vanderbilt

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Duke Fuqua’s MBA program? First, try not to get completely caught up in the academic portion of the application (test scores, GPA, etc.). There is more to your application than just a test score or GPA. Do the best you can on the test, as it is a critical step in the process. At the same time, spend time reflecting on why you want to attend Fuqua and your reasons for pursuing an MBA. This kind of introspection will improve your writing and storytelling. It will also give you clarity and focus once you arrive at school.

Second, Fuqua had the most engaged admission community I came across in my application process. In my opinion, candidates who engage with this community have a leg up. Current students and admissions alike are incredibly accessible. The first interaction I had with Fuqua was a call with an admissions officer, Meghan Pollard, during her “office hours.” This call was easy to set up, individualized, and it had a truly lasting effect on me.

Furthermore, current students are the best resource for explaining school culture, academics, and recruiting. Speak to students. I knew this was a community I wanted to be a part of — not only because they have the newly-minted experience of getting into Fuqua, but also since I enjoyed speaking with every student I met. Lastly, I was fortunate enough to participate in Fuqua’s Veteran’s Symposium and Pride Weekend. These events solidified my interest in Fuqua. Participate in these types of events to get a sense of the school community and if the program aligns with your values and goals.


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