UVA Darden First Year Cecilia Rios Murrieta Spotlighted by Poets & Quants

By Jay Hodgkins

Calling the MBA Class of 2022 “the COVID Cohorts,” graduate business education-focused online publication Poets & Quants has published its initial spotlight of new students in top MBA programs, including a Q&A with University of Virginia Darden School of Business First Year Cecilia Rios Murrieta.

A Batten Scholar, Murrieta is one of 343 members of Darden’s full-time MBA Class of 2022, which will be joined by an estimated 60 additional members of a special cohort starting in January for the first time as a means to provide flexibility amid the coronavirus pandemic. Applications to the class surged 25 percent from the previous year to record levels, and the class includes a record number of women and a record number of Consortium members.

The First Year from Mexico drew the publication’s attention thanks to her success founding Mezcales Murrieta, a mezcal-focused spirits company she grew from her home country.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:

My biggest accomplishment has to be launching a spirits company from scratch with no prior experience in the industry, no partners or major investors, as a 26-year-old woman in a male-dominated industry. In spite of the skepticism and fear-mongering from a certain few around me, I pushed forward and managed to build a brand portfolio within one of the biggest spirits distributors in the U.S. I did it, and I had the time of my life doing it.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?

Around 2017, I was beginning to feel that I had come full circle in my career in spirits and that I needed to transition. My life priorities have shifted towards mindful habits and a pursuit of physical, mental, and spiritual wellness, so I felt like this was the perfect moment to invest in myself and treat myself as my next venture. I had always known business school would be on my path, and the timing had finally aligned with my purpose.

Despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, Murrieta says her new classmates at Darden have done an incredible job connecting and forming strong bonds.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? 

The camaraderie. One of the positive side effects of COVID has been the chance to connect and meet with many of my future classmates and the rapport was simply instant. Despite being thousands of miles away from each other, we have held each other through the ups-and-downs of uncertainty and anxiety that the pandemic has caused in each of our home countries. Together, we have come out of this stronger, and I can honestly say I feel like I now have best friends in India, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, China, and the U.S., and I love it! I cannot wait to see everyone in person very soon.

What makes you most excited about starting business school here? What makes you most nervous? 

I’m very excited for the network of students, teachers, and mentors that I will have in Charlottesville. I can’t wait to see my new friends and finally see Darden’s campus. I’m nervous about COVID, but to this day Darden and UVA have been the most responsive and caring about our unique situations, and I am convinced that there is no place I would rather be at this moment.

Read the full Q&A with Murrieta on Poets & Quants.

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.


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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia