Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Jackie Modesett, University of Virginia (Darden)

Jacqueline (Jackie) Modesett

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“Loyal pen pal, amateur free-diver, devoted dog mom, can quote any line from Talladega Nights.”

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was an Academic All-American sprinter and hurdler in college, but recently started getting into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Undergraduate School and Major: Harvard College, Concentration in East Asian Studies with a focus on China

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Communications Director, Wesley Hunt for Congress

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? My professional experiences have shown me the value of problem-solving in fast-paced, demanding environments and of collaborating with dynamic and diverse groups of people. I wanted to participate in a program that would push me to think critically about real-world problems and build solutions that have to stand up to diverging perspectives and points of interest.

What word best describes the Darden MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Curious. By that, I mean the curiosity to explore challenging questions and a willingness to solve problems creatively.

Aside from cases and classmates, what was the key part of Virginia Darden’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I was looking for an MBA program that would truly broaden my skillsets and prepare me for a career shift. But I was also looking for a learning environment where I could build life-long academic and professional relationships. During the application process, I was amazed by the faculty at Darden and inspired by the learning atmosphere they cultivate. Building strong relationships with professors and TAs can have a transformative impact on your experience in the classroom and beyond. It’s something I greatly value and looked for when applying to graduate programs.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Virginia Darden? I am very much looking forward to spending time hiking and exploring the trails and parks in and around the Charlottesville area, particularly with my dog, Pita! I love to be active and spend time outside – it keeps me present in the moment and provides valuable balance to other parts of my life.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Some of my favorite professional accomplishments include having a seat at the table during high level security briefings with senior defense officials. It was incredibly motivating and inspiring to work alongside such accomplished and dedicated counterparts and to dig into the real threats, challenges, and opportunities facing the U.S. defense establishment.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? It reminded me of the importance of prioritizing time with loved ones. Life is short! Professional goals and accomplishments are important, but they mean so much more when you can share them with the people you love.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? My most substantive and formative professional experiences took place while I was working for the Armed Services Committee in the Senate. Upon graduation, I hope to be able to translate my background in defense policy into work fostering competition and growth in the defense industrial base. I think the dual-degree program between Batten and Darden will equip me to do just that.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Harvard and the University of Texas

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Virginia Darden’s MBA program? Be authentic! UVA admissions folks really try to get to know you as a person, so try to find ways to convey your sincere goals and values throughout the process.