Members of Executive MBA Diversity Committee Offer Thoughts on Inclusion, Advice for Prospective Students

16 November 2021

By Dave Hendrick

The Discover Darden Admissions Blog recently profiled three Executive MBA students who are helping to grow diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in the Executive MBA program.

Class of 2022 students Lorchi “Chi” Lo, Briana Apgar and Nicole Reyna hail from different industries and geographic locales, but come together with a shared interest in lifting different perspectives and improving the Darden experience for its diverse, global community. All members of the Executive MBA Diversity Committee, they each recently recorded podcasts sharing more about their backgrounds, experience at Darden and plans for the future.

The Darden Executive MBA Class of 2023 includes 46 percent women, a new record for the format.

In addition to answering a variety of questions about Darden, the trio each shared advice for prospective students.

Lo, a senior talent partner at Tesla, spoke to the value of the case method classroom.

Q: What would you want prospective students to know about Darden’s Executive MBA program?

A: If you are looking for a rigorous program that will challenge your growth as a leader, you’ve come to the right place. Darden’s Executive MBA program has had a tremendous impact on my personal growth. I chose Darden’s program because I wanted to improve my confidence and decision-making skills as a leader.

The case study methodology, application of theory through practice, faculty, and my amazing learning team (LT20) have contributed greatly to my learning. I would not trade this experience for anything, as I have formed many life-long friendships with our talented Executive MBA Class of 2022 cohort.

The Darden community is also unique, as they have always been helpful and supportive from day one.  Whenever I had questions about a job or industry, the alumni network has always answered the call.  They are truly special and will do everything in their power to make sure that you succeed. I am truly grateful to be a part of Darden’s Executive MBA program.

Apgar, who currently works for Carilion Clinic as a diversity consultant, spoke about the benefit of being able to change one’s mind.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for prospective students?

A: To hold grace for yourself and become comfortable in the space of “good enough.” I understand that for driven individuals, “good enough” hardly seems good at all. Its connotation feels inferior, maybe even insulting or a bit lazy.

However, as you balance the demands of work, academics, and personal life, you have to remember that you are a whole human. For me, this is most important lesson from my time at Darden. As a leader, you cannot be an in-touch, relatable human if you are dividing yourself into too many pieces.

Decide what initiatives and responsibilities are worth your whole self, then decide what initiatives can be achieved through a “good enough” means. Challenge this stigma to lead for the better. Additionally, be willing to change your mind when you feel called to do so.

If we are unwilling to first change our minds, how could we ever change our workplace, our community, and our own lives? Growth mindset is so important to leadership, and, I think, to our overall happiness and satisfaction.

Reyna, a director a Mintz Group, spoke about the importance of a support network.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for prospective students?

A: Believe in yourself and make sure the people in your support network are on board for the ride. While the support system is crucial, it is more important that you believe in investing in yourself. During the program, I think I was a little slow to come out of my shell, but my cohort has been wonderful, and they encouraged me so much to speak up and share. You have something of value to share — you just need to show yourself a little grace!

Read fuller profiles and listen to podcasts with Lorchi “Chi” Lo, Briana Apgar and Nicole Reyna.

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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