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by Sybil Thomas, EMBA 2019

It was a cold, icy day as I dragged my overstuffed suitcase to the Allen Center. I took a deep breath and entered the impressive building, nervous about the journey I was about to take. I saw the familiar faces of Larry Brueck and Christine Post and was immediately greeted with smiles and a warm welcome. The nervousness began to fade. It was Launch Week.

Daily schedule in hand, I was uncertain about what to expect since it had been over 16 years since I was in college. I had a million questions. Were my classmates going to like me? How was I going to be as a student? What did I get myself into? I was expecting the experience to be frustrating and overwhelming but, thankfully, I was wrong.

The admissions team and professors at Kellogg understood both the academic and emotional needs of the students and the curriculum reflected this. The Kellogg environment was nurturing and academic at the same time. The admissions team was welcoming, supportive and, most importantly, highly visible and approachable. Their enthusiasm was palpable, and it felt like you had your own personal cheerleaders encouraging you every step of the way.

The structure of the program made it easy to meet other students and develop relationships both within the framework of the classroom and in social settings.The activities and introductions made getting to know people an organic experience. It removed our fear of failure and looking stupid, which was empowering. It was humbling to know that my classmates were just as nervous about the experience and grateful to be here as I was. The classes were engaging because world-class professors captured our attention, inspired us to think creatively and gave us tools to succeed. We used all parts of our brains as we listened for comprehension, wrote notes to retain information, used our hands to build and talked to others to communicate our ideas. This process made learning concepts memorable as we applied what we learned in a session with a small group, or discussed it in relation to our classmates and their current responsibilities at work. It was learning to the extreme.

Each day was filled with learning, laughing, and camaraderie. The days were intense and long, with a full schedule of events which was mentally and physically exhausting at times. The exhaustion always faded, though, and was replaced with excitement of what was ahead. Despite the long days, the week flew by.

Launch week was unlike any other experience in my lifetime. It was exciting, exhausting, encouraging, academic, social and inspirational. I entered the Allen Center alone and a little scared, but after just one week, I was not 1 student in 77. I was a member of the Kellogg and EMBA 114 family. I am excited to support, lean on, learn from and grow with my new extended family, and launch week made this possible.