“Lifelong learner and future lawyer determined to know their client’s business inside and out.”
Hometown: Blue Bell, Pennsylvania
Fun Fact About Yourself: I’ve been competitively boardgaming (think Settlers of Catan, Risk, and Ticket to Ride) for 14 years. In that time, I’ve won a world championship in one game, Churchill, and am internationally ranked in several others. I got into the hobby from my dad and have continued it because of the critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving skills it teaches in a fun and relaxed environment.
Undergraduate School and Major: University of Virginia BA (History)
University of Virginia Master’s (Public Policy)
Currently a dual-degree MBA/JD student at Darden and the law school.
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Department of Justice, Paralegal Specialist
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I am really proud of the work I did while at the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. From ad-hoc litigation work to drafting policy memoranda and handling Congressional correspondence, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In particular, I worked on a business review letter examining anticompetitive concerns for a major joint venture into payment rail systems. Doing months of research, interviews, and discussions with attorneys and economists paid off when the decision our team reached was published and signed off by the Assistant Attorney General. Taking a topic I knew nothing about and becoming familiar enough to discuss it, working with a skilled and dedicated team, and seeing those recommendations adopted was an incredible experience. The experience of thinking like a businessperson, determining where the incentives were to act anti-competitively, and addressing them explicitly in the letter inspired me to go to business school.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Intellectually curious. My classmates come from all walks of life and different careers, but they are all so eager to learn. I’ve had fantastic conversations not just about business but about military policy, the GMAT, and criminal procedure with friends who have had very unique and interesting perspectives that never cease to inspire me to learn more. My classmates are not just here for the MBA, they are here for the full experience of going to an elite business school and learning from their peers while there.
Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? I was in a unique situation where I was not comparing business schools but evaluating whether to go to business school or not because I had already committed to UVA Law. At the end of the day though, what sold me on Darden was the fact that I was going to a school that prioritized building relationships between students as much as the activity in the classroom. Darden wants the students to learn from each other inside and outside the classroom. And as much as I love the classroom, the most memorable insights I’ve learned have come from outside with my peers over lunch, during late nights at the library, or in the hallways between classes. Darden’s environment is set up to be conducive for that, and above all else, the chance to be in that culture while gaining a first-class education was too good to pass up on.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school?: I’m particularly excited for the Tri-Sector Leadership Fellows Program, which is a group of students selected for their interest in cross-disciplinary learning between the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, the Law School, and Darden. The chance to see how business decisions impact other aspects of society, as well as how law and policy decisions impact business, will round out to me the incredible business training experience Darden has to offer.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I suspected that if I didn’t get an MBA now, I never would. The opportunity to jump-start my legal career off with an MBA and an intimate understanding of how businesses run was too tempting to pass up. When I join the work force, I will be well-equipped to handle not only the legal problems my clients face, but also understand the underlying business concerns causing them.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I thought long and hard about whether doing an extra year of school for an MBA would be worth it on top of the law degree. Ultimately, I decided going to Darden was worth it for three reasons. First, education almost always pays for itself in terms of the skills learned and the experience gained. I can use an MBA to pivot to almost any career and make myself an even more valuable attorney. Second, the finances made sense—even factoring in the opportunity cost of working at a firm and tuition, the MBA would pay for itself and then some in a few years. And lastly, when I stepped out of a mock class at Darden Days, I knew this was the place for me. I loved the case method, loved my classmates, and loved what I was learning. I immediately called my family and told them that I was going!
What other MBA programs did you apply to? I did not apply to any other business schools—for me it was Darden or bust . . . so I’m quite thrilled that it worked out!
How did you determine your fit at various schools? Even though Darden was the only business school for me, I looked really hard at the school to see if it would advance me along my career path. In particular, I looked at the culture of the school, what types of careers their graduates go on to do, the quality of teaching, and their alumni network. On all of these criteria, Darden excelled.
I talked with people, especially MBA/JDs about Darden and their experience. Across the board, they were extremely enthusiastic about my decision to pursue both and spoke fondly of their time at the school. Many of them used their MBA as often as their law degree, which to me signaled that what Darden taught would be extremely pertinent to my career – in particular, the fact that Darden emphasized general management
I fell in love with the case method the moment I saw it used. I knew nothing about reading a financial statement walking into the class and walked out feeling confident I could understand one if it were put in front of me. All of that through my classmates and not through lecture. And the teachers at Darden are there to teach the students—they genuinely like it, which means a lot to me and contributes to a lively and genuine learning classroom environment.
As for alumni, there’s no question, the Darden alums I talked to loved the school as much now as they did when they were students. And they were incredibly willing to talk to me about my career, aspirations, and give business school advice. The Darden community does not end when you leave Charlottesville, it’s always with you.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment came when I was waitlisted at UVA Law School, my dream school. Faced with the difficult decision of deciding what to do with my future, I decided to take a gap year and reapply to UVA Law. That decision led me to working with the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, which was incredible at the time and even better in hindsight. Having some work experience, substantive legal experience, and exposure to the nexus of business and law turned out to be useful during my first year of law school. But it also revealed to me the importance of learning a client’s business inside-and-out. That desire drew me to business school and to Darden. While my life plan got derailed, and I had to make some tough decisions, I like the direction my career is going now. The most valuable lesson though was you can find opportunity in disappointment.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? My hope is to work for a law firm on corporate and litigation work. I will find ways to use both my business and legal training to help see my clients through any difficult matters that arise. Lawyers sometimes get the stereotype of being the “no” people (probably with some truth to it). With my background in business, policy, and law, I want to be the lawyer who can say “no, but” and find a solution to whatever problem my client has.
Where do you see yourself in five years?: In five years, I see myself as a senior associate as a law firm working directly with clients on their legal problems and underlying business concerns.