Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I remember speaking to several students when I first came to Darden for my admissions interview.  They were so confident, so eloquent, brimming with potential and promise.  They seemed at ease, genuinely happy, and excited about their present and their future.  Their conversations and their answers to questions were so perfect and fluid it left me in awe.  At every opportunity, they jumped at the chance to offer their assistance and support, even though we'd met just minutes ago.  Even the way they walked was different.  It was as if they glided through the halls of the school, so sure of their way around, so sure of themselves.

I wondered if and when that would ever happen to me- a transformation.  Things felt so uncertain.  I felt like such a novice, an outsider.  I was stuck in a routine, concerned about my future and desperate for a change.  I thought about the transformatoin as I drove home to Nashville after the interview.  I thought about it as I waited eagerly for word from admissions, distracting myself with long hours at the TV station.  I even thought about it after being accepted, and after being enrolled.  Would I ever possess that ease and confidence I saw in those Darden students months ago?

The transformation was gradual.  There were moments when I thought it wouldn't happen at all.  Accounting was a foreign language I thought I'd never understand.  Classwork took up the whole day, from 8 am to 10 pm on countless nights.  Final interview after final interview came and went, and I began to wonder if I'd be left without a summer internship.  Did a former TV reporter with zero business experience really belong in marketing?

After making it through first quarter exams, I started to realize that maybe I was good enough.  My grades got progressively better through the year.  Then, I landed an incredible internship that gave me invaluable experience in marketing, innovation, and strategy.  All of a sudden, the clubs and groups that held events for me and other FYs to attend were now providing me with leadership opportunities.

I returned to Darden in August 2012 to finish the transformation.  They say Second Year is just as busy as the first, but your days are filled in completely different ways.  It's true.  There are First Years who are looking for advice, reassurance, and support.  There are events to be planned, projects to lead, friends to spend time with.  And yes, there is golf to be played.


Maybe it's a little bit funny.  Maybe it's nostalgic.  Maybe it's an accomplishment.  But with graduation just a month away, I have to admit: I am genuinely happy about today and excited for the future.  Conversations about all things Darden and business come so much more fluidly than ever before.  It is an honor and a privilege to help those whose life searching and career aspirations lead them here.

And, the ground beneath me feels light and airy as I walk through Flagler Courtyard on a beautiful spring day in Charlottesville.  Maybe I am floating through Darden in these last days, my stride accelerating and my footprints lightening as I prepare to fly away from this amazing place.

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