Yesterday I received the best news I have gotten in 2 years; at 10:46 AM, Whitney from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia left a message on my cell phone telling me she had "good news" and to call her back. Waiting to call Whitney back was excruciating, for 2 years I have worked my ass off to get into this program, for 2 years I have dealt with set backs, fights with loved ones and sleepless nights as I chased my dreams - finding out if I achieved a dream was delayed because I was stuck in a conference room up in Boston!
After my first meeting ended I called Whitney, got her voice mail and left a message. During my second meeting of the day I said I'm sorry I have to take this call, walked into the hall way and with a fist pump and a smile (about as much emotion as I'll ever show) I heard the words "congratulations, you have been admitted to Darden!"
On February 9, 2007 at 12:01 am, I read on Darden's website the words "admissions not offered" with a single tear I was determined to change my fate and gain acceptance into the program. That night I listed out the 5 things I needed to do to get into the program and stuck that to my refrigerator to be reminded of what I needed to do to advance my career. Step by step those things began to fall and as I worked harder my achievements became greater. The journey gave me experiences that exceeded my expectations - coaching kids, believing in my methods and finding my confidence were all things the past year provided. "They" say everything happens for a reason - and I truly believe I was denied by the 4 programs I applied to last year so I could become the person I needed to be to achieve all my dreams.
There is no way I could have had the strength to fight everyday of the past year to gain acceptance to Darden without the unbelievable support of some very special friends and members of my family. My Mom and Dad fought with me every step of the way and were there to support me - we overcame the denials together and we're overcoming diabetes together - hearing the tears in their voices just let me know that they will always share in my triumphs and tribulations. My 3 sisters, Heidi, Bari and Lynn have all been so supportive over the last year. My youngest sister, Lynn has taken the brunt of my frustrations but started to cry in her office when I told her the news - she "took" me out to dinner (meaning I paid) when I got my interview invite and I know she was more happy for me than even I was yesterday; her unquestioned and unwavering support gave me the strength to do all I had to do over the past year. Courtney, Steve, Eric, Marc, Smith, Sean, Conor, Linda and Mike have supported me through the process and have been there every step of the way - my friends have given me the strength to fight. A special thanks to Courtney for all that she has put up in the past year, for the stress it put on our relationship and for her willingness to let me express my frustrations to her. And to Scott and Paul the Darden alums who guided me through the process - thank you, your insight helped get me through. To Tom W., Professor Fleischer, Alan (Darth Data) and Mike - my recommenders thank you for the kind words and making me look great!
There are two people in particular who guided me in a more direct way, who made me a better candidate and who showed me how to get accepted to business school. Seth, my GMAT tutor helped me learn what was necessary to score in the top 10th percentile on the test and for that I'll be ever grateful. But my most heartfelt thanks goes out to Julian - a great friend whom I met while coaching for the Downtown Giants. Julian was the head coach of the Jr. Pee Wee team, a Harvard Business School and Michigan Law School alum. After a couple e-mails and before I ever met him, Julian offered to help me through the application process. He helped make my essays the best prose I have ever written. Most importantly, this guy who I have known for less than a year believed in me so strongly that I couldn't help but have faith that what I was doing would get me into grad school. I wish I could play the message he left me on my cell phone yesterday, I have never heard someone be so unconditionally and unquestionably happy for someone else, thank you Julian!
I'm sure I rambled through the above post - I'm still not back on earth yet but man this feels great! I have never worked for something so hard in my life, and I have never had to fight through so much to reach an achievement. Just about everything that could have went wrong in the first half of 2007, went wrong for me from a job I hated to my health deteriorating to being rejected by each MBA program I applied to. But I kept my head down, I kept my eye on the goal and I fought tooth and nail to get to this point. To all those who supported me, I promise you I'll continue to fight and work as hard as I possibly can to live up to the faith and belief you have in me - thank you again. Diabetes be damned, now I can just focus on the Ironman and smile knowing that come September I'll be enrolled at Darden!