Classmates Become Family

Namaste!

As I write this, I am sitting in a hotel room in New Delhi, India while one of my classmates sleeps soundly. It is 11:30 p.m. and in the rooms on either side of me and down the hall are more classmates. Somewhere in Chile there is a group of TCU MBA students planning what they will do this evening or where they will have dinner. Another group of Neeley MBAs are likely just wrapping up lunch in the Dominican Republic. One of my classmates is on his honeymoon, another classmate is enjoying his first Christmas with a new baby, another is celebrating a recent engagement, and many are spending time with family they unintentionally neglected this semester. For three weeks we are spread out all over the world, but we remain close. We are already family. 

In August, as I arrived for the first day of pre-semester workshops, I never expected the next five months to go as they did. I was swapping a job for class, but other than that, nothing would change. I lived in DFW already. I had friends here. My family isn’t too far away — just a quick drive to Austin. 

The day before START workshop, my mother called me from the hospital. She was ill, but thought it was nothing. A few weeks later and still in the hospital, there were no answers. I continued to attend classes and had my mother moved to a hospital in Dallas where I could travel daily to stay with her. And so it was for months. Class, drive, hospital, drive, class, drive, hospital, drive… I found time to shower between classes and my classmates helped me stay on top of homework and reading.  

While my family was hurting and my friends were working, my Neeley MBA classmates and faculty supported me. One by one, I came to rely on them for help with the square root rule when I was zoned out during supply chain; for a recap of which fashion case study went with which class when I couldn’t keep them straight; for someone to laugh with for a few minutes before I got in the car to drive back to Dallas.  

I studied finance and signed off on blood cultures. I read cases while my mom was having brain surgery. I explained the 9x rule to the doctor who was telling me about the new MRI they were considering. I chatted with my mom about Taryn Swan while we watched Nickelodeon. I pored through statistical analysis on my mother’s symptoms. While I was doing my best to devote more time than I had to school and my mother, my mom just kept fighting… and she just kept getting worse. 

My mother passed away on October 28th.  The Neeley family — people I had only known a short time — kept me looking forward. Peggy, the Director of Graduate Admissions for the Neeley School, rushed to meet me at the hospital. Classmates surrounded me with love at my house. I had become so close to these people in such a short time.  

TCU’s Neeley MBA marketing materials tell us, “It’s more than business. It’s personal.” We’ve all heard it from schools and employers before. But, at TCU, they mean it.  I could not have asked to be surrounded by better people. I could never say enough to thank them for loving me. 

Now it is 11:57 p.m. in New Delhi. Tomorrow morning at 6:15 a.m. we depart for the Taj Mahal, a monument built out of love and mourning. I think of my TCU family with love and I thank them for helping me mourn. Visiting the Taj Mahal with just a few of my TCU family seems the perfect end to an imperfect year and a perfect tribute to a more than perfect mom. 

“Should the guilty seek asylum here, 

Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.

Should a sinner make his way to this mansion, 

All his past sins are to be washed away.

The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs; 

And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.

In this world this edifice has been made; 

To display thereby the creator’s glory.”

     -Emperor Shah Jahan

— Lacey Hammons

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