Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Alyssa Tulabut, University of Virginia (Darden)

Alyssa Tulabut

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“Professional daydreamer with a side hustle of advocating for more equitable policies.”

Hometown: Chesapeake, VA

Fun Fact About Yourself: When I’m not roleplaying as a student who’s confident about answering a cold call, I roleplay as a high elf wizard in Dungeons and Dragons!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Virginia, Economics and Psychology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Fellow, White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? The case method attracts students who want to be challenged to grow as leaders. It teaches students to open up to listening to other perspectives and approaches (which may contradict our own) and expands our avenues of learning to also include our fellow classmates. The classroom experience builds students’ skills in facilitating the learning of our peers and effectively articulating our positions and recommendations. In doing so, Darden students emerge as managers who lead with curiosity, remain agile and flexible in their analysis, and communicate with clarity.

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? One of the key aspects as I was choosing a business school was a close-knit community. I felt that I would be best able to foster deep connections with my classmates away from a busy city where folks could disappear to on the weekenda. Charlottesville would provide a certain level of seclusion for our cohort while also offering numerous vineyards and breweries, scenic views, and plenty of other options for stress relief.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Virginia Darden? I’m most excited to be part of the Consortium and to contribute to the efforts to make the MBA journey more accessible to students from underrepresented communities. It’s exciting to work on strengthening this pipeline for communities who have long been underserved and underfunded.

What has been your first impression of the Darden MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Darden story so far. My overwhelming first impression has undoubtedly been how supportive the Darden community is. Alumni are unfailingly generous in offering candid advice and making helpful connections in their networks, and my classmates and I wholeheartedly enjoy celebrating each other’s successes. We are all individually ambitious, but we know that a win for one of us is a win for Darden as a whole.

My favorite story so far has been hearing some of my fellow classmates share their personal stories during Darden’s Opening Week. At one point, the power in the auditorium went out, and we went full acoustic mode, complete with cell phone flashlights to illuminate the stage. I was so impressed by how present everyone was. People weren’t on their phones or whispering amongst themselves – so much so that the speakers were able to continue on without microphones. To me, it exemplified how Darden students show up for one another, respect each other, and demonstrate their curiosity and enthusiasm to understand each other on deeper levels.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Building and implementing an outreach strategy to engage Cambodian, Hmong, Iu Mien, Lao, and Vietnamese communities in the 2020 Census and presidential election! These pivotal civic engagement milestones in 2020 positioned me to strengthen invaluable muscles leading a coalition of partner organizations to get out the count and the vote within Southeast Asian American communities. I am especially proud of my work producing in-language text and audio voter guides to make the candidates’ platforms as accessible as possible to limited English proficient community members. I’m grateful for role I was able to play in our collective efforts to ensure these communities were counted and heard.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? The Power by Naomi Alderman. This book explores a world in which girls and women develop the power to produce electric shocks. Even though it’s fiction, I think it’s a thought-provoking book for prospective MBAs and MBA students to interrogate one’s views on power, especially as we are on pathways to one day be in positions to wield it in our professional lives (hopefully responsibly). Does power inevitably corrupt? Can power structures truly be dismantled, or will they simply reassemble as new manifestations?

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Dartmouth Tuck, Cornell Johnson, Yale School of Management, Duke Fuqua, UC Berkeley Haas, University of Texas McCombs

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Virginia Darden’s MBA program? We are all more than our academic and professional accomplishments. When it comes to sharing who you are, do not feel constrained to those areas. Don’t feel pressured to minimize or exclude those aspects in your application, especially if the inflection points of your life have not necessarily been career-related. The Darden community is also enriched by its members’ values, interests, and personal journeys, and you should feel encouraged to share those aspects throughout your application.


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