‘What’s Next?’ for Anton Dela Cruz: From Creative Writing to Ethical Leadership at UVA Darden

By David Buie-Moltz

As the University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares to graduate its Class of 2024, Anton Dela Cruz is set to move from a multifaceted career in operations to a strategic role in healthcare consulting. His time at Darden has fueled significant personal growth and a shift toward ethical leadership and community involvement.

Raised in Westchester, New York, Dela Cruz’s academic and professional journey is a testament to his resilience and adaptability. Initially enrolled in an engineering program at Cooper Union, he discovered a stronger pull toward the sciences and nature, leading him to study creative writing at SUNY Purchase. “I realized I was more interested in pure science and studying nature than the design process of engineering,” Dela Cruz explains.

He began an MFA in creative nonfiction at the University of South Carolina, where he shares he was the program’s only person of color and navigated coming out as queer. Although he left the program unfinished, it marked a significant chapter in his development. He then joined The Free Times, an alternative weekly in Columbia, South Carolina, where he managed ad production during a tumultuous change in ownership. “This experience tested our team but also brought us closer together. It made me think deeply about what it means to lead and make ethical business decisions,” he notes.

A turning point in Dela Cruz’s journey was when he listened to a Darden admissions podcast featuring Professor Ed Freeman, the renowned father of stakeholder theory. This encounter solidified Darden as the ideal platform for him to merge his ethical values with his career aspirations.

Anton Dela Cruz, second from right, at the Asia Business Club at Darden gala. (Photo contributed)
Anton Dela Cruz at the Global Food Festival. (Photo contributed)

At Darden, Dela Cruz has excelled academically and as president of Pride at Darden, enhancing visibility and support for the LGBTQ+ community. Supported by the need-based AccessDarden and a merit scholarship, his Darden education has been integral to his professional formation.

His roles, ranging from IT-managed services to consulting in project management and executive coaching, have further shaped his leadership philosophy. “I was supercharged by a good boss and manager who made me feel like I could do the work,” he says.

Looking forward, Dela Cruz is eager to join Guidehouse’s Healthcare Segment. “The decisions made in healthcare consulting have high stakes as they directly impact patient care and access,” he observes, underscoring his commitment to ethical leadership and social impact in a critical sector.

This is part of a four-part series, “What’s Next?” Discover how Darden shapes the future of its graduates and read about other remarkable stories from the Class of 2024, including those about Kate Grusky, Yonah Greenstein and Sharon Okeke.

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