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By Jena Mills

When my boyfriend was accepted into the dual-degree MMM Program at Kellogg, I was absolutely overjoyed, just like any other brand new JV (Joint Venture)! All of a sudden, we had a whole new city and non-coastal lifestyle to explore. We were so ready for the adventure!

The catch about adventures, exciting though they may be, is that there’s always an adjustment period. A new routine. A new environment. New friends … basically a new normal.

Our normal at the time was me in Los Angeles, where I was in medical school, and my boyfriend in San Francisco, where he worked as a consultant for Frog Design. We managed that long-distance relationship for three years, so we were already aware of the excitement and challenges ahead of us.

As I watched him move off to Evanston last summer to start school, I worried about whether or not I would be able to meaningfully participate in the experience as a long-distance JV. I knew from a great friend (a recent Kellogg alum) and his then-JV (now fiancé), that the Kellogg community was exceptionally supportive of JVs, allowing them to audit classes and run extracurricular groups, but how could I possibly be a part of all that being 2,000 miles away?

I soon came to realize that I really had nothing to worry about.

Within weeks of his acceptance, my boyfriend’s KBud (business school “big sib”) put me in touch with another long-distance JV in medical school — a JV KBud of my own. She was someone I could contact with questions/concerns, and just generally someone with whom I could relate.

I learned the important lingo, came to understand FOMO and came to appreciate what a “team meeting” actually entails. I immediately felt better and more prepared with tools to tackle this new adventure.

My first visit to Evanston was over the Fourth of July weekend. At this time, only the MMM (and 1Y) students had started school, and I was so excited to meet all the new friends I had heard about over the phone. We spent the day playing beach volleyball at North Beach and gathered on an Evanston rooftop for fireworks that night. Everyone was amazingly warm, and every student or JV I met was so excited to welcome me to the Kellogg family.

I cannot emphasize enough what a huge part of the culture this is, and it speaks volumes about the kinds of people Kellogg hopes to bring into the community. They care so much about creating an accepting, familial atmosphere, and it shows!

At the end of the summer, I was fortunate enough to go on a KWEST (Kellogg Worldwide Experiences & Service Trips) trip to Northern Spain, and I made some of the most wonderful friendships with students and fellow JVs. Despite the fact that I have only been able to visit Evanston a handful of times since then (mostly for the major seasonal formal events), I still feel like I’ve had every opportunity to engage with the community.

Regardless of the event, an invitation is unconditionally extended to me if I happen to be in town. Whether it’s Kellogg’s Hoot for the Homeless Halloween bash, a DAK (Day at Kellogg) leader preparation event, team meetings over dinner, or sitting in for a one-day audit of Professor of the Year Gad Allon’s Operations Strategy course, I have always felt welcomed and encouraged to participate when I’m in town.

I genuinely feel like, in my own way, I am an important part of the community and an important part of my boyfriend’s experience in business school.

I have learned quite a bit this first year as a Kellogg JV. Business school is an incredible experience, for students and JVs alike. It is genuinely unlike any other experience I have ever known, and I am so grateful to be a part of the Kellogg community. I have honestly felt extremely well-supported and very much included in the experience, more so than I could have ever hoped for.

So for all you potential future long-distance JVs out there, let me be the first to say that we are so excited to welcome you into the Kellogg family!

Jena Mills is the girlfriend of Diego Depetris, who is currently in Kellogg’s MMM Program. Jena received her M.D. from the Keck School of Medicine of USC this past May and just moved to Chicago to start a surgical internship at Presence Saint Joseph’s Hospital – Chicago. She’s especially excited to adjust to life as a non-long-distance JV!