Surviving the Dual Degree

“Sometimes the hurdles aren’t really hurdles at all. They’re welcome challenges, tests.”
– Paul Walker

My name is Prsni Sookraj, and I am a full-time JD/MBA student. I started in the fall semester of 2015, and am expected to graduate in 2018 (fingers crossed). I have completed my 1L, and will have completed my MBA by fall 2017. I was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa but I grew up in Cape Town and Vanderbijlpark. Prior to moving to the United States, I was a BS student, studying computer engineering at North-West University on the Vaal Triangle Campus in South Africa. My family and I moved to the United States in January 2012 and I had to restart my studies. I prevailed and completed a BS in Management with a Finance concentration at Bay State College in December 2014 so I know a bit about pushing yourself and overcoming obstacles. I will also be on the E-Board of SUGBA for the 2017-2018 academic year so please never hesitate to contact me (psookraj@suffolk.edu).

Dual degree students are in a class of their own. Not only have we decided to pursue graduate school, but we want more. I’ve always prided myself on being a dual degree student because I always believed it showed that I want more; I want to be more, I strive to be more, and I’m not scared of more. Is it bravery or stupidity that allowed us to make this decision? I honestly can say, it is a bit of both and that is why we are in a class of our own. In crafting this blog post, I wanted to ensure that incoming dual degree students received the advice that I would have benefited from. I hope this helps you maintain your sanity during this experience, but also provides you with some helpful advice and tips.

 
1. Breathe!
It will feel overwhelming, and it will take some time to adjust to graduate school. It is nothing like undergraduate, you are in for a shock in so many different aspects, but this is all temporary, so breath. We have been there, and it is a challenge, but you made the first big step, so trust me, you can get through this just fine.

2. Accept all.
There is no need to feel superior or inferior to anyone. Regardless of what department you are in, you may suddenly feel average. You may have been the best of the best at work, or in your undergraduate, and you will suddenly question your own competence because someone else “went to a better school” and/or “seems to understand things better.” Even students who are not dual degree students are all at the top of their game, and that is how we all got into graduate school. It is going to be okay, and yes, you will feel average, but that is not a bad thing, especially if the “average” is everyone who is at the top of the game too.

3. It is okay to feel lost.
As a dual degree student, speaking from personal experience, you may not fit in 100% in any department, and that is okay. I never fit in 100% in the law school because I would find myself dragging in business concepts that seemed irrelevant to the class, and I would do the exact same thing in the business school. I always remember what Dean Behnam said during the first dual degree lunch I ever attended, “You should never feel as though you are only a part of one world, but instead you should feel as though you are a citizen of both worlds.” This helped me to feel less lost at times. It may seem as though your peers have it all figured out while you may not, and that is okay. Dual degree students don’t always know what career path they will pursue, but we know there are more opportunities accessible to us. We are the “Jack of all trades,” and we will have some mastery so “master of none,” need not apply.

4. Dead men tell no tales!
Get in touch, and keep in touch with Upperclassmen who are dual degree students.
I cannot stress the benefits of this enough. Upperclassmen are a treasure trove! They will have advice, outlines, horror stories, professor recommendations, textbooks, and, occasionally, a cold beverage ready to help you through the course. Upperclassmen have been in your position, and have survived to tell the tale! Even if for no other reason, get in touch with upper classmen because chances are they will be in the field before you so expanding your network never hurts.

5. Do what works for you.
Every professor, department, and orientation leader will tell you how to approach the upcoming year. They will tell you how to study, manage time, which classes need to be taken ASAP, and which don’t. Just because they are following this approach does not mean you have to. Find what works best for you, and stick to it. For me, with regards to studying, repetition works best so if I write out something two or three times, it sticks. It’s okay to use a study and time management method that works for you, so long as you pass! Never, I repeat, NEVER, feel the need to rush through this! It is not a race or a competition, we are all winning.

6. Do it all!
There are a plethora of opportunities within the schools; make use of them. Get involved, join clubs, committees, and be an active member of Suffolk University. There are travel seminars, which I would highly recommend, and many professional development workshop and events that will present future opportunities. You never know where your next opportunity will come from. Make the most of your time at Suffolk, and it will be unlike any other.

7. Enjoy it.
Enjoy your studies; find a work-life balance, eat well, sleep enough, and have fun. This is a stressful time, but why let it overwhelm and consume you? This experience will change you, regardless of where you are in your life, and that is a good thing so enjoy it. Take it all in, and make some life-long friends along the way.

8. Do not be afraid
Things happen that we cannot always control, but there is a network of people here to support you. Do not be afraid to take risks. If you decide that the program isn’t for you or you prefer something else, do it!

Dual degree students may be a little insane, but that is one of our many strengths. All things considered, I commend you for making this decision, and I hope you have a wonderful experience here.

“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”
– George S. Patton

-Prsni Sookraj, JD/MBA ’18

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