Two UVA Darden Students Named to ‘Best and Brightest’ List

17 May 2023

By Dave Hendrick

Two students in the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Full-Time MBA Class of 2023 are among the 100 “Best & Brightest MBAs” in this year’s graduating class, according to Poets & Quants.

The publication describes the students selected for this year’s list as “high potentials with rare intangibles and compelling personal stories,” and spotlights students Tyler Kelley and Ryan Spencer Cox.

Kelley, a dual-degree student pursuing a Master of Education degree alongside his MBA, served as president of the Darden Student Association, discussed what led him to Darden.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Darden because it was where I felt I could thrive and grow academically and professionally while being my complete self without fear of judgment or exclusion. At Darden, I can acknowledge and embrace that I am a first-generation student from a low-income single-parent home without shame. From the moment I met a Darden recruiter to starting my application to now having experienced the program, my entire family has felt included and cared for, making this major transition more manageable. The faculty members are stellar, and they genuinely care, making time to get to know students outside the classroom. The staff spends a great deal of energy and effort facilitating programs and implementing processes that promote belonging and support. And my classmates have been more amazing than I could have imagined, becoming my family away from home.

And explained what he saw as the biggest misconception about the School.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Many people don’t think of Darden as a social school, which couldn’t be farthest from the truth. Academics are core to the Darden experience, but next to that are social life and community building. There are tons of things to do around Darden, UVa, and Charlottesville, and we’re very close to DC for folks who want to tap into city life. There’s never a dull moment at Darden, and nearly everything opportunity is created with the student (and their family) in mind, allowing partners and children to fully participate in the Darden experience.

Read the full profile of Kelley.

Cox, a dual-degree student who will graduate with an M.S. in Data Science alongside his MBA and who served as president of the Community Consultants of Darden while a student, said he chose Darden for its relationship-building capabilities.

Why did you choose this business school? Having the opportunity to build profound relationships with faculty is something I have always valued academically. I knew Darden’s professors were second-to-none, but I choose Darden because of the faculty’s dedication to the students. Professors regularly have coffee with students, free their calendars to provide advice, and attend student functions. Their commitment to building the best community possible is what convinced me that I would get a collaborative academic experience at Darden.

He also described a surprising aspect of the Darden classroom.

What surprised you the most about business school? As odd as this may sound, I was surprised by how entertaining the classroom was. I knew the social events would be lively, but I did not count on my professors and classmates making discussions serious, meaningful AND engaging.

Engineering school was great, but it was mostly professors at a blackboard. Darden is ALWAYS a discussion. This brings comedy, deep emotion, and professionalism in a unique balance. The case method delivers a fantastic in-class environment and a great opportunity to learn from your peers’ backgrounds.

Read the full profile of Cox.

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