UVA Darden Celebrates Growth, Impact of Inclusive Excellence Scholarships

By David Buie-Moltz

Professor Greg Fairchild (MBA ’92) has seen a lot in the three decades he has been associated with the Darden School of Business. But what he saw at Monday’s First Coffee in PepsiCo Forum was truly exceptional.

“When I look in this room, and I see all of you, it’s a sobering moment,” Fairchild said. “[Darden] was a different school 30 years ago, in many ways.”

"What I find so powerful is that you're here, you're present. You feel this is your school."
Professor Greg Fairchild (MBA ’92)
Professor Greg Fairchild speaking at celebration of diversity business school scholarships

Professor Greg Fairchild (MBA ’92) addressing Darden’s Breakthrough Scholars and Impact Fellows

Fairchild, who serves as associate dean for Washington, D.C., area initiatives, was talking about the latest cohort of Breakthrough Scholars and Impact Fellows — whose ranks have swelled to 55 students in these programs’ second year of existence. The Darden community gathered on 3 October to introduce and welcome the second cohort of the programs.

This pair of Darden School Foundation merit-based scholarships ensure those with the greatest potential from all backgrounds choose Darden and foster a lasting culture of inclusive excellence at the School. Both programs provide recipients with carefully tailored mentorship and leadership development programming involving Darden alumni, faculty, fellow students and staff.

“What I find so powerful,” Fairchild continued, “is that you’re here, you’re present. You feel this is your school. I, for one, and we, for the rest of us [referring to the other gathered students, faculty and staff members], are glad you’re here.”

The Breakthrough Scholars program is a competitive scholarship initiative designed to foster a new generation of diverse leadership in private equity, venture capital and other areas of asset management. The Darden School Foundation recognizes students who demonstrate commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion with the potential to “breakthrough” in these sectors that are traditionally not associated with diversity and inclusion and where new leadership would be especially important and impactful.

"What the program does is not only help with just career development and support, but also connections to alums who are in Private Equity or Venture Capital to help bridge that gap on that network side."
Sukari Brown, Class of 2023 Breakthrough Scholar

“[You have to be] very heavily networked in order to get into careers in this space — and the path to landing jobs and opportunities is not always as clear as  investment banking and consulting,” said Sukari Brown, a Breakthrough Scholar in the Class of 2023. “And so, what the program does is not only help with just career development and support, but also connections to alums who are in Private Equity or Venture Capital to help bridge that gap on that network side. That is so important for these particular industries and just makes a difference in terms of people being able to pursue the careers they actually want.”

Brown, president of the student-run Darden Private Equity Club, said the Breakthrough Scholars program is a differentiator for Darden, noting that she regularly connects with students who have similar career interests at other top-ranked business schools to share some of the knowledge she has learned from the program.

“I think it can be a game-changer,” Brown said of the program. “But we have to do more to [promote] it.”

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The Impact Fellows program focuses on those traditionally underrepresented in top business schools and the ranks of senior management, especially women and people of color. While attracting top students to Darden is a critical component of the program, specialized programming also ensures that fellows reach their full potential at Darden and after graduation.

“The biggest thing Impact Fellows has done for me is, number one, it’s access to an alumni mentor — and these are usually people who are well tenured in their careers — to challenge my thinking,” said Darrell Pacheco, an Impact Fellow in the Class of 2023. “And my mentor, in particular, is a very dynamic gentleman.”

Pacheco said the program has already had a “measurable impact” on his life, and he looks forward to mentoring future fellows who come to Darden after him.

Michael Woodfolk addresses breakthough and impact scholars diversity business school scholarships

Michael Woodfolk (TEP ’05)

Michael Woodfolk (TEP ’05) president of the Darden School Foundation, credited Darden Dean Scott Beardsley for his leadership in helping get the Breakthrough Scholars and Impact Fellows programs off the ground last year.

“When I think about [these programs], when I think about our growth [at Darden], our development and our perfect aim for the future, he’s at the forefront,” Woodfolk said of Beardsley. “So when you see him, give him a fist bump, give him a nod, and let him know we’re on the right path.”

To support or become involved with these scholarship programs, contact Stephanie Brady, assistant vice president for scholarships, at bradys@darden.virginia.edu or +1-207-333-2517.

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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