Meet Virginia Darden’s MBA Class Of 2022

The Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. Photo/Andrew Shurtleff Photography, LLC


There is far more to the Darden MBA than just the case method. The program is also well-known for global leadership. Even more, the program’s reputation for entrepreneurship is on the rise. Here are some additional benefits to the Darden experience.

1) Openness: “I was really struck by Darden and UVA’s dedication to student-led leadership within their communities. I have been involved with student government-type work since middle school and have seen the power in an administration that is in tune with its students versus one that is not. I love that Darden’s administration, faculty, and staff care about our experience enough to allow us to be involved in making the decisions that affect that experience.”
Kathryn Allen (’22)

“Like many students, I was drawn to Darden’s rigorous academic environment with its high intellectual and emotional engagement. I also loved the fact that Darden celebrates individual voices and encourages “non-traditional” students to share their unique perspective. I saw this vividly during my on-campus visit; we were discussing a case on self-driving cars and one of my classmates (a former philosophy major) questioned whether or not customers would be comfortable with allowing a car to make morally ambiguous decisions on their behalf. The professor leaned into her comment, and the resulting conversation influenced our predictions of how long it would take for self-driving cars to fully replace traditional cars on the road.”
Olivia Pavco Giaccia (’22)

Darden students gather after class

2) Rigor: “As any past or current student would acknowledge, there is a peculiar lore around the First Year Core experience and the academic rigor of the program in general. In truth, Darden’s academic environment serves up its fair share of challenges and growth opportunities. However, it provides equal amounts of support systems and tools to help students adjust to carrying the “weight” of learning new content via a unique teaching style within the typical MBA time-crunched environment.”
Chloe Stegeman (’20)

3) Entrepreneurship: “[I love] the entrepreneurial ecosystem that exists at Darden, UVA, and Charlottesville. When making my decision, I simply could not refuse the opportunity to have access to so many resources, including the vast network of alumni, angel investors, VCs and mentors. As an entrepreneur wishing to continue to pursue a career as an entrepreneur, there were very few programs that I considered to hit the mark on supporting students who don’t wish to pursue a traditional internship. Darden’s Batten Institute has excelled in making it possible to create your own path. Like [Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Director] Sean Carr said, ‘There is no cookie cutter approach to being an entrepreneur, and they make it easy for you to see all the options, explore and find your own way.’”
Cecilia Rios Murrieta (’22)

4) Faculty: “The teaching faculty is remarkable. Choosing one, I would say Shane Dikolli, a relatively new accounting professor. I had the opportunity to take Shane’s first class ever at Darden. His compassion for students shined through on the first day of class when he went through and named every single person (except one, whom he then sent a page long apology email to). Since then, he has continued to connect with every Darden student, ensuring that each person has a unique experience, and is always striving to improve it.”
Bryce Istvan (’20)

5) Darden Cup: “My favorite event at Darden is Darden Cup. Think of it as Harry Potter Quidditch but within our sections instead of houses and there are different sport and non-sport events alike. I love Darden Cup for three reasons:

A) It gathers all walks of Darden students. The Darden Cup is regularly attended by many students. It is an event that brings our diverse population together where everyone feels welcome and included.

B) People showcase their talents. From basketball and soccer to trivia and the talent show, people can display the brain and brawn we do not see in class. Events like American football and cricket also help bridge cultural gaps.

C) It inspires a competitive spirit in sections. The Darden Cup would not work if people did not take it seriously; that desire to win unites sections (usually) and fosters unlikely relationships over a common bond.”
Vita Wu (’20)

Darden alumni kicking back in front of their alma mater.

6) Community: “I am lucky enough to be reminded of why I chose Darden each and every day: the people. Rankings, the case method, and the opportunity to build my general management toolkit aside, the people — students, staff, and professors — make the Darden experience truly one of a kind. From the first moment I stepped into Saunders Hall, I was met with a warmth that can only be described as reminiscent of home, and that feeling has truly never left me since. I knew I would leave the MBA experience with new skills and new knowledge, but I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would leave my program with 700+ people I now call “family” — what a gift this Darden journey has been.”
Chloe Stegeman (’20)

“The tight-knit Darden community was the best part of my business school experience. My classmates were always willing to share their experiences and lend a hand both in and out of the classroom. One of the best examples is the global food festival where international students cooked dishes representing their countries and everyone tasted the food and celebrated one another. It was amazing to see the pride my peers had as we shared in their respective cultures and it was so satisfying to experience that with the whole Darden community.”
Derek Debruhl (’19)


No, Darden isn’t always easy. As Allie Medack, a 2020 grad notes, “It is hard to be accustomed to not being the smartest person in the room.” Once you get past that, adds 2020 classmate Alexander Gregorio, the Darden experience is truly something rare and valuable.

“If you really enjoy that discussion of learning from your peers, of engaging with topics and being disagreed with and disagreeing with others in a friendly way and walking out with each other, this is the place to be. There is no better place where you can learn, be challenged, and grow as an individual so that when you walk out of Darden, you’re ready for whatever the real world’s going to throw at you.”

What led the Darden Class of 2022 to pursue an MBA degree? What programs did they consider? What was the toughest question they were asked in the admissions process? What did these students do to prepare for their program? Find out answers to these questions and many more by clicking the student links below. 

MBA Student Hometown Undergrad Alma Mater Last Employer
Kathryn Allen Garden Prairie, IL Butler University Eli Lilly & Co.
Isabel Fortuño Seitzer Dorado, Puerto Rico Cornell University Publicis Sapient
Heather Hoffman Pennington, NJ Duke University Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Khaliyah Legette Teaneck, NJ Georgetown University U.S. Senate
Stanley Lu Frisco, TX Texas A&M University Emerson Electric
Beau Muniz Orlando, FL University of Florida GE Appliances
Paul Niedfeldt Crystal Lake, IL Brigham Young University Walt Disney Company
Ibrahim Okenla South Holland, IL University of Illinois GE Transportation
Olivia Pavco Giaccia Arlington, VA Yale University Self-Employed
Cecilia Rios Murrieta Mexico City, Mexico UVM Mezcales Murrieta
Peace Titilawo Brooklyn, NY Hunter College PwC

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