Duke’s Fuqua School of Business offers scholarships each year to individuals with social sector backgrounds who are looking to acquire business skills for use in their pursuit of social impact. The Social Sector Scholarship brings in amazing students who add a richness to the Fuqua student body and bring their unique perspectives to the classroom. We are proud to announce our new CASE Scholars, starting with Diana Vining!
Diana comes to Fuqua after spending the past 7 years working for the educational nonprofit City Year. City Year works in some of the highest need public schools around the country, providing tutoring, mentoring, and role models to the students who need it the most. These schools are primarily in inner city, low income neighborhoods where sometimes only 50% of students graduate from high school. City Year’s mission is to give those kids a fighting chance in the uphill battle towards graduation and make sure their zip code doesn’t determine their future.
Diana spent a year working in an elementary school in Harlem NY, with students like a 5th grader named Jordan who got into fights on a daily basis. On the last day of the program he wrote Diana’s team a note that said, “Dear City Year, thank you for letting me stay even though I was bad.” Diana says that it broke her heart but at the same time gave her hope to know that every student deserves a second chance.
To introduce Diana to the CASE community, we asked her a few questions about her background and why she came to Fuqua. Welcome Diana!
What is one of your proudest accomplishments in life thus far?
I spent an entire semester as an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania painting a mural on a 3 story row house as part of an academically based community service course in West Philadelphia. Our professor was a professional mural artist, and our class of 10 students worked with him and the local community to assess their needs and create a design. We held a small gathering of neighbors inside the living room of the house’s owner, where we heard about the concerns of residents who no longer felt safe after dark in their community. That inspired a sort of “taking back the night” theme featuring the granddaughter of the house’s owner, images of the row houses, and a fabric motif to represent the fabric of the community. I learned a lot that semester about community revitalization, color theory, and how to get exterior house paint off your skin. I visited 6 years later and found the mural is still there and in good shape. I’m proud to know that I’ve left my mark on the city, and done so in a way that involves the people who walk by my mural every day.
What or who inspires you?
After my first year working in a school at City Year, I spent the next 6 years working in communications and college campus recruitment. I was inspired every day by the young people I met who wanted to join, the corporate donors who wanted to support us, and my fellow staff members who worked tirelessly toward our goals. I was also inspired by the other nonprofits and recruiters that I met from Peace Corps, Teach for America, Citizen Schools, etc. Together we impacted thousands of students by convincing them to sign up for a life changing post graduate term of service. It was amazing to have a job where I was excited to wake up every day and go to work, and my work was talking about something I loved! I strongly believe that loving what you do makes your better at your job, and that you should love what you do if you are committing your career to it.
When I started researching business schools I was looking for a few key qualities in the school culture that were similar to my work environment at City Year- passion, collaboration, and leadership. Fuqua was a name that kept coming up over and over as I talked to peers, friends, and mentors. I was also interested in a school where I would not be in the minority as a person from a nonprofit background looking for social sector opportunities, so when I found out about CASE I was really impressed. There are very few schools that have such a stellar reputation for social entrepreneurship, a variety of student activities and courses to go along with that, and a good network of students recruiting for social impact careers. I also got a clear gut feeling when I visited Fuqua for my interview that it was the right place for me. You could immediately tell what a warm and welcoming community it is; how the academic standards are very high, but students manage to balance classes with clubs, recruiting, and building their network through social activities.
What impact do you hope your Fuqua education will allow you to have on the world?
My experience in recruitment at City Year has led to a greater passion for the power of people in an organization. I believe that people are any organization’s greatest asset, and I would be excited to help a company leverage their people to maximize their business impact. I am now exploring HR opportunities in training, leadership development, and company culture. I also learned from working at a nonprofit that there are a lot of quantitative skills and processes that we lack knowledge in. I’m planning to utilize my experience at Fuqua to build up my quantitative skills and my business acumen so that when I eventually return to the nonprofit sector, I can help fill that gap and be a well-rounded leader.
Share one of the 25 facts from your application essay.
I studied kung fu for 7 years, became an instructor, and earned my second degree black belt.