Poets & Quants Recognizes Darden Students Among ‘Best & Brightest’ MBAs
By Jay Hodgkins
- Catherine Aranda from El Paso, Texas
- Ilja Orre from Helsinki, Finland
- Devin Underhill from Fairfield, Connecticut
Each student discussed their experience at Darden and plans for the future in Q&As with the online B-school publication. Aranda shared the extracurricular achievement she was most proud of accomplishing during her time at the School.
Surviving Darden’s rigorous academic core should be the top-ranking source of pride for me, but I am most proud of the opportunity to work with stakeholders across the school to launch the Darden Mental Health & Wellness Initiative.
Since being at Darden, in the background of preparing cases and recruiting, I have had one constant driver: to establish authentic relationships and help the individuals around me develop the best versions of themselves. Over time, through the Darden Stories series and at a Board of Trustees dinner, I shared my personal journey.
After many months of listening, visioning, collaborating, and planning, on October 23, 2017, we launched the first-ever Darden Resilience Week. During my public address to the school, I shared: “I lost my mother to suicide when I was 17 years old, fell in love with public service as an undergraduate student at Stanford, came to Darden as a nontraditional candidate, and for most of my First Year, felt like a failure and imposter in the halls of Saunders. Each and every one of us has a story.”
Orre described why he chose Darden.
It took me one visit to the Darden classroom to know this was the school where I wanted to pursue my MBA. I think I raised my hand multiple times in class, even though I was just visiting. That’s how engaging and dynamic the case method experience was (sadly, I didn’t get called on though). After class, I could feel the energy in the community as students gathered to start the morning together at what’s called “First Coffee” at Darden. I knew I wanted a close-knit community and Darden fit that bill perfectly. I’m really fortunate to get to relive that first visit every day.
Poets & Quants asked Professor Bobby Parmar what made Underhill such an invaluable addition to Darden’s Class of 2018.
I met Devin when he was a first-year student in my business ethics course. Devin was never afraid to voice his perspective and took every opportunity to be inclusive and compassionate with his classmates. On several occasions, Devin was able to ask a powerful question to a classmate or share his perspective in a way that changed our conversation and make people think differently.
In addition to the class, I have had the pleasure of engaging with Devin on other important topics. One, in particular, is helping the Darden community cope with the tragic events of August 11 in Charlottesville. Devin was keenly interested in what could be done to help students process and talk through their reactions and feelings of the neo-Nazi March and subsequent violence. He was aware that not everyone in the community was affected in the same way, and was looking for ways to foster dialogue and better understanding among his peers. Devin reached out to other student leaders, and together they settled on the idea to write a case about how different Darden students were processing the situation, to help create consensus on what could be done going forward.
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia