Our first quarter at the GSM is winding down. We are still the new kids in Gallagher Hall, and we sure don’t have it all figured out yet, but things are definitely falling into place. It has been harder than I anticipated adapting to the academic environment, but I am so glad to be here. The privilege of being able to take this time in my life to invest in myself is not lost on me, not by a long shot. So, while I try to figure out what is happening in Statistics (ahem, Data Analysis for Managers) or Accounting, make club meetings and study groups, it’s good to be reminded that the people right there with me are genuine, fantastic people.
Luckily, some of those fantastic people were able to take some time off from the grind to get together last Friday. Second Year MBA student Danny Turkovich graciously hosted a group of GSMers at the Turkovich Family Wines and Winters Cheese Company Tasting Room in downtown Winters. Not only were we able to taste some of their fantastic wines, but we were also dazzled by Danny’s cheesemaking prowess. There really isn’t anything better than great wine, cheese, and company on a warm November afternoon.
Who would have thought a wine tasting would precipitate and exemplify the culture of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management (GSM)? Prior to starting this program, certainly not me. Allow me to elaborate.
It began at the start of the quarter when I met Danny Turkovich, a second year GSM classmate. We were introduced at the biweekly Davis farmer’s market and over the course of the evening(and a couple cold beers) we casually discussed our past and present goals. Though interesting to learn about his future endeavors to combine food and technology, upon hearing Danny’s family were the proprietors of a winery, my ears had perked.
With Danny’s enthusiastic approval, a decision was made to organize an unofficial class trip to his family’s wine tasting room a few towns away from Davis. After two months of trying to find an optimal date we were finally ready for this trip.
Organizing the event was simple. A post on our GSM Facebook group provided the easiest method to spread the word. Although after an entire week on the group page, two people had signed up. Not a very promising turnout. Something would need to change. A little grassroots promotion was all it took to rally the GSM troops for this wine and beer mixer. I had personally asked classmates for their commitment, underlined the fact that this was a classmate’s winery, and added on a trip to a brewery to sweeten the deal for a larger portion of my classmates. Ten people signed up within the day. We were ready for an excursion!
After driving 20 minutes outside of Davis on a scenic country back road we arrived at the Turkovich Family Wines Tasting room in Winters, CA. I was amazed by the magnanimity of the Turkovich family. They had provided a veritable cornucopia of delights to pair with their amazing wines. What was laid before us was a platter of fresh grapes and thin slices of apple, soft ripened brie, Danny’s personal recipe for cheddar, smoked gouda, and locally sourced cured meats. Combined with the Turkovich wines, it was a little slice of heaven if you ask me.
Now I could discuss the fantastic social banter, the musings of our most recent financial accounting class, or the deep philosophical conversations among my peers but what I appreciated most was the undercurrent that stronger bonds we were forming with one another. This wasn’t just another MBA program where we were trying to outscore each other on tests with whatever competitive advantage we can gain. We weren’t networking so we could have a large professional circle to use for our future careers. We were building relationships. As cliche as it might sound, we were breaking the walls of being merely classmates, we were becoming family.
In a flash it hit me, the culture of the GSM had been manifesting itself into something tangible this entire time. A classmate inviting a virtual stranger and his class to visit a family winery. Someone willing to organize a trip for the benefit of everyone. A group of students willing to take a break the weekend before midterms to socialize with their peers. Everyone willing to share their passions, their gripes, their vulnerabilities. Everyone intent on listening.
Though I feel our connections and relationships are closer than ever I can only see these bonds growing stronger as we attend more events. Next up, a family style Thanksgiving potluck! And I have to say, I have much to be thankful for this year.