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A Kellogg spell-out in Portugal. Hanna is in the first "L."
A Kellogg spell-out in Portugal. Hanna is in the first “L.”

I was ecstatic for my boyfriend when he was accepted to Kellogg, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit apprehensive about how my experience as a Joint Venture (partner of a student) would differ from his experience as a full-time student.

Besides the fact that I had never seen snow fall from the sky and didn’t yet understand the power of earmuffs, I was worried about how well I would fit in with the Kellogg community and whether or not I was in for two years of always feeling like a bit of an outsider. I foolishly assumed the experience was not mine to define, because this was his adventure and that I was just along for the ride.

Oh how wrong I was …

No more than five minutes after we met our KWEST (Kellogg Worldwide Experiences & Service Trips) group, our leaders announced that under NO circumstances would we be allowed to discuss where we were from, where we worked or any other basic facts about our lives until the end of the trip.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this brilliant requirement would end up setting the tone for my entire Kellogg experience. From day 1, I felt treated as part of the community and valued as a friend and peer before the words “I’m not a student” could even fall out of my mouth.

During the first few weeks of school, I never once felt like I didn’t belong or that I was somehow less welcome at events because I wasn’t attending classes with the other students. I received email after email about opportunities for me to be involved in Kellogg life, not only with my partner, but also on my own as a member of the Joint Ventures community.

Three months later I found myself at a meeting with the Joint Ventures Club executive team as one of the social chairs, and a few months after that in Dean Sally Blount’s living room discussing favorite Kellogg moments with students and faculty. In between was a whirlwind year making lifelong friends, planning events, sitting on panels, attending seminars and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

I think it speaks volumes that a school I didn’t even attend could have such a profound impact on my life.

Kellogg has inspired me to become a better leader by challenging me to never stop learning from my peers and growing as a member of a community, even when I feel uncomfortable or out of place. I’ve also learned to let go of fear when it comes to volunteering and doing things I’ve never tried that may end in failure.

I truly felt encouraged by Kellogg to make these two years my own and to learn and develop while still supporting my boyfriend and enjoying our time together.

I’ll be ending this adventure with him and I will forever be grateful for our experience here as two full-fledged members of the Kellogg community.

Hanna Michelsen works remotely for her company as an engineer while her boyfriend attends Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year MBA program. They have loved every minute of being in Evanston, but they will be returning to California in the fall and can’t wait to attend Kellogg alum events in the Bay Area!