Poets & Quants Names 2 UVA Darden Students to 2020 Best & Brightest List

04 May 2020

By Jay Hodgkins

University of Virginia Darden School of Business students Julie Calderon Benavente and Vita Wu have been named to the annual 100 Best & Brightest MBAs for the Class of 2020 by Poets & Quants, the business school-centric online publication.

With the release of the list, Poets & Quants also publishes a Q&A with each honoree. In their Q&As, Calderon Benavente and Wu discussed their favorite professors and events at Darden and why the chose the School.

Julie Calderon Benavente

Who was your favorite MBA professor?

Peter Belmi is my favorite professor. Not only is he a great professor and a food friend, but he has the ability to make us get out of our comfort zones and start questioning the status quo. His “Paths to Power” class really challenged me to rethink some assumptions that I had about power and success.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school?

There are so many awesome events at Darden, but I really enjoyed Darden Cup. Specifically, I enjoy the talent show, where each classroom brings their talents to the stage at the Jefferson Theater. It reflects the strength and bond of our community and we get to see a different side of our friends.

Why did you choose this business school?

I chose Darden for the community. The case method is only useful if every student is willing to share their knowledge and experiences, and Darden facilitates a safe and diverse environment to learn as much as possible. I enjoy being in a tight and collaborative environment; everyone is willing to help and we all know each other.

Vita Wu

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? 

I am most proud of building up a new organization called Humans of Darden. Humans of Darden was started by two students the year before as an initiative to create a stronger community at Darden. During my tenure as president, awareness of the organization has reached 100%; conducting focus groups and surveys from scratch have helped us better understand our positioning and we have formed partnerships with about 10 different Darden clubs. I hope this building year sets Humans of Darden up to become a staple for every student to form new and deeper connections in their time at Darden.

Why did you choose this business school? 

I chose Darden for two main reasons. First, It is one of the few schools in the country that has a dual degree MBA/M.Ed program and is part of the Consortium. I knew business school was going to be unknown and uncomfortable territory, so having the M.Ed program and my Consortium cohort would bring me back to my roots. Second, Darden has a reputation for having an academically rigorous curriculum. As someone coming from a non-traditional background, I had never heard of a margin or WACC. I wanted to be pushed in my learning to gain business knowledge quickly and effectively. Darden has not let me down in that regard.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? 

Know your story. Darden cares about where you come from, where you have been, and where you want to go…they want to know the whole picture of who you are. Darden is full of smart, humble, and interesting people. Community matters at Darden; in order to be a fit for the community, you must show all three of those criteria. The “smart” you can gather from a GMAT score or other accolades, but the “humble” and “interesting” is exhibited through your story.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Press Contact

Molly Mitchell
Associate Director of Content Marketing and Social Media
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia