My final Darden post: What it means to be a WAHOO

Since my last post in late April, life has been a whirlwind. Exams, post-exam trip to Spain, beach week, tons of parties, graduation, LOTS of classmates streaking the Lawn, a few last nights in Charlottesville, a trip to Europe, another one to South Africa, and a bunch of weddings (including two Darden ones!).Image

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Oh right. And one other thing that happened–and something we’re all tired of hearing about right now (all.those.EMAILS!)–the resignation of Terry Sullivan, followed by reinstating her a few weeks later.

I won’t belabor all the points that sum up what happened, but I do want to touch on one important thing as I have officially wrapped up my time at Darden–this whole storm has reminded me of just what it means to be a Virginia Wahoo.

When we got the first email about the news, I was in Europe with a friend of mine. Thanks to an abundance of wifi there, I got the news in pretty much real time and just kept muttering “Oh my God” over and over again. I emailed a college friend of mine and we made an eerily right hypothesis: there was much more to the story, and we just had to sit back and watch it all unravel.

And unravel it did. In a big, bad way.

As a Double Hoo, I had two sets of people asking me what I thought about what went down–Darden friends who asked me what I thought as somebody that also attended UVA for my undergraduate education, and then also my college friends who wanted to know what I thought of Terry Sullivan and the whole fiasco, considering that she was the President of UVA for the full two years I was at Darden. At first, as news articles were spitting out muddled facts about the case, and as we were inundated with emails from every possible organization–Alumni Association, College of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia, Darden, Darden Alumni…the list goes on–I felt a sense of shame. WTF happened,  UVA?

But then the protests on the Lawn started happening, and from across the world, I just wanted to be in one place (well…look at the pics below. To be fair, I wish I could have been in two places at once!): back in Charlottesville and a part of whatever was happening. As annoying as all those emails were, I found myself opening them before anything else (yes, even above Facebook notifications and emails from friends & family)–usually coupled with an eye roll.

And then that sense of shame and embarrassment for UVA turned into pride. Other schools often talk smack about UVA–how pretentious we are for calling it “the University”, our appreciation for Mr. Jefferson, referring to campus as “the grounds”, and so on–but all of that is just rooted in an immense source of pride and dedication to the school. Twitter, Facebook, and blogs were all inundated with a common theme: alumni and students standing behind their school, an institution known for being rooted in rich history and tradition but also progressive and open to making changes.

That description pretty much sums up most of the students and alumni I know from school, too.

Students, alumni, administration, and faculty came out of the woodwork, seemingly in droves, to show their support for the school. People who never seemed to have muttered as much as a “Wahoowa!” were suddenly showing support for the institution where they spent a formative time of their lives. This perhaps also goes to show that we all demonstrate our UVA pride in different ways, whether it’s still wearing ties to football games (a tradition I’m sad to see has dissipated over the years!) to honoring the UVA name through ethical decisions to the workplace each and every day to writing a donation check to pay forward a scholarship that an alum received back in their day. Every single person who has walked across the Lawn on graduation Sunday has had a different yet valuable UVA experience, and all of those people are in the world putting their education to (hopefully) good use.

Virginia Wahoos are strong, dedicated, motivated, curious, and–as the most recent event reminded us–resilient (…and stubborn). If you really are the company you keep, then I can’t imagine a better set of alumni I would want to be a part of. Twice.

For my own transitions and next steps, I officially moved out of Charlottesville yesterday and I am moving to Minneapolis in August to do brand management at General Mills. It’s a move that I’m both nervous and excited about, but ultimately I know it’s the best decision and, most importantly, for the right reasons. The upcoming months will definitely be ones of much change for me, but the University name on my diplomas that will be hung up in my new digs will be a constant reminder of what it means to really be a Wahoo and how each of us carries that with us every day, all over the world.

(In order: Barcelona-Spain, Dingle-Ireland, Santorini-Greece, Munich-Germany, Dubrovnik-Croatia, Bukura-Montenegro, Stellenbosch-South Africa–the UVA colors here were intentional for Mr. Jefferson’s 4th of July!)

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Posted in Charlottesville, Darden, Leadership, Second Year, Since I've Been Gone..., Summer, Travel, UVA

Why Darden? (Part 2 of 2–BIG Photo Edition!)

As I write this post, I have my foot propped up on a pillow, covered in ice, and my crutches are strewn about my couch. I had been planning on writing the “Why Darden? Part 2” sequel focusing on the social aspect of Darden this week anyway….so how fitting is it that I’m injured from this weekend’s activities?!

Last time’s post focused on some of the academic and community aspects of Darden; this week I’m focusing on a very small snippet of some of the social activities that have gone on in the last few weeks. Activities seem to ramp up as we get towards the end of the year, and there is clearly never a shortage of stuff going on.

Read the captions of the collages below!

International BGiA dinner hosted by a Mexican, Persian, German, Swede...

International BGiA dinner hosted by a Mexican, Persian, German, Swede...

 

Putting our BGiA dollars (and biceps) to use on BGiA Build Day!

Putting our BGiA dollars (and biceps) to use on BGiA Build Day!

 

Clockwise from top left: Prospective and Matriculating Students will recognize the scenery--Darden Days at King Family Vineyards! The remaining three pictures are from the Blue Ridge Oyster Festival.

Clockwise from top left: Prospective and Matriculating Students will recognize the scenery--Darden Days at King Family Vineyards! The remaining three pictures are from the Blue Ridge Oyster Festival.

 

Clockwise from Top left: 1) getting ready to cash in on yet another BGiA item--plane ride over Charlottesville! 2) view of the Lawn on Central Grounds from the plane. I especially like the worn down grass from the Rotunda to the Homer statute--remnants of Lawn streakers galore. 3) picture of the Lawn rooms I took before Thomas Jefferson Seminar in the Colonnade Club 4) a few members of the Darden Leadership Society taking advantage of Professor Colley's Pavilion on the Lawn--the first Darden professor to live on the Lawn! 5) View of Monticello from plane

Clockwise from Top left: 1) getting ready to cash in on yet another BGiA item--plane ride over Charlottesville! 2) view of the Lawn on Central Grounds from the plane. I especially like the worn down grass from the Rotunda to the Homer statute--remnants of Lawn streakers galore. 3) picture of the Lawn rooms I took before Thomas Jefferson Seminar (yes, a Darden SY elective!) in the Colonnade Club 4) a few members of the Darden Leadership Society taking advantage of Professor Colley's Pavilion on the Lawn. Colley is the first Darden professor to live on the Lawn, and many of us have been to his Pavilion several times this year! 5) View of Monticello from plane.

 

Our friend, Valentina, cooked an authentic meal from her home country of Mexico. Clockwise from top left: Me, Valentina, and Kendall with our "boyfriend catchers"; 2) pre-dinner set up 3) course #2 (she had been cooking all day!)

Our friend and classmate, Valentina, cooked an authentic meal with recipes from her home country of Mexico. Clockwise from top left: Me, Valentina, and Kendall with our "boyfriend catchers"; 2) pre-dinner set up 3) course #2 (she had been cooking all day and this wasn't even a BGiA dinner!)

 

BGiA dinner at the Jaenickes! Clockwise from top left: 1) Table set up 2) Devin, Me, Katie getting ready for post dinner dancing 3) so much pork! 4) Devin, Me, Katie, Kinsey by the outdoor fireplace 5) dinner!

BGiA dinner at the Jaenickes! Clockwise from top left: 1) Table set up 2) Devin, Me, Katie getting ready for post dinner dancing 3) so much pork! 4) Devin, Me, Katie, Kinsey by the outdoor fireplace 5) dinner is served!

 

Another BGiA item (do you see where all my money goes?) CRAB FEAST! Clockwise from top left: 1) potato prep 2) crabs! 3) remnants 4) the crowd (approx 90 people in total) 5) the chef at work. middle pic: Lily and me, Midatlantic represent.

Another BGiA item (do you see where all my money goes?) CRAB FEAST! Clockwise from top left: 1) potato prep 2) crabs! 3) remnants 4) the crowd (approx 90 people in total) 5) the chef at work. middle pic: Lily and me, Midatlantic represent.

 

Clockwise from top left: 1) Darden tent houses 1,000+ people once the rain starts pouring. Not a bad place to be! 2) Team Lilly Pulitzer. 3) Darden Tent dance party (band and iPod) 4) Darden Chalet Tent 5) The band 6) Darden Foxfield brought to you by....!

FOXFIELD!!! Clockwise from top left: 1) Darden tent houses 1,000+ people once the rain starts pouring. Not a bad place to be! 2) Team Lilly Pulitzer. 3) Darden Tent dance party (band and iPod) 4) Darden Chalet Tent 5) The band 6) Darden Foxfield brought to you by....!

Posted in Charlottesville, Darden, Friendships, Second Year, UVA

Why Darden? (Part 1 of 2)

As I’m wrapping up my time here, I feel that I’m constantly being reminded of why I was so drawn to Darden to begin with. Next post will feature some of the more social elements that seem to be quite overt in our SY, but this post touches upon diversity, the #1 ranked faculty, and the Honor code of the University.

Click on each of the links for a short one minute video–

DSA President Evan Smith on Diversity of the Darden Community

DSA Vice President of Social Sara Sajadi (me!) on MBA Faculty (a redux of last year’s post on the Open Door Policy)

DSA Vice President of Honor Bryan West on Honor

Posted in Darden, DSA, Faculty, UVA | 1 Comment

Namaste, India!

If there’s one thing my student loans and long breaks from school have afforded me to do over the past two years, it’s travel. Over spring break this year, I went to India with 14 of my other classmates and 1 professor to participate in a Global Business Experience (GBE). This program quickly rose to the Top 5 things at Darden I’ve been most grateful for doing (another Top 5 item being another course here), and something that I hope will be deeply embedded into the Darden core curriculum in the future.

Why India?! That was a question I received more often than not leading up to the trip. A typical “spring break” conjures up images of beaches, poolside cocktails, partying, sleeping in, and aloe (and this was definitely the case with my spring break last year in Costa Rica, Argentina, and Uruguay). But this year I wanted to do something different, memorable, and arguably life-changing. I wanted to take advantage of the GBE program, which was a huge selling point for me when I decided to apply to Darden. Cost wasn’t an issue for me, since the price tag associated with the flight and program are merely a drop in the bucket relative to my massive student loans. I knew the experience would be one that I would never regret spending money on. I internally debated about India vs. China, two huge and growing global powers that impact American business more than we inherently realize, and ultimately decided on India.

So how was this week characterized in comparison to the “spring break” definition above? Chaos, beauty, kindness, colors, patterns, flavors, bug spray, smog, traffic, alarm clocks, dichotomies, ambiguity…I could go on. Our class’ motto for the week became “It’s unclear.” in response to virtually every question posed.

And life changing? It most certainly was. We spent half of our time in Delhi and the other half in Mumbai–the two of which are completely different from one another. Throughout the week, we went on 7 company visits–each of which differed drastically from the one before it. Everything from Johnson & Johnson to Jindal Steel to Teach for India to the US consulate to Picante Mexican Grill (a business started by 2 young Darden grads) to a private equity firm and a real estate company.

We spent other time enjoying the abundance of food and flavors at the amazing restaurants, shopping and negotiating at the markets (deadpan negotiating=a strong suit of mine. Flashback to Tehran bazaars with my mom and sister in my youth), seeing marvelous sights hundreds and thousands of years old. One thing we didn’t do? Drink much! At one restaurant we went to, Bukhara (where you eat with your hands!), the cheapest bottle of wine was $80…plus the 100% alcohol tax, which meant the cheapest bottle was $160.

On the flip side, the overt poverty and slums really affected all of us as we drove around in a bumpy albeit air conditioned tour bus over the course of the week. Many of us on the trip were reading books that dove deeper into the slum life, such as Shantaram and Behind the Beautiful Forevers. We also heard many stories of corruption and alarming statistics about various parts of the country, education, and day-to-day life for the majority of Indian citizens; but all of that was necessary in trying to begin to chip away at understanding this global power that holds 1.2 billion people of the world’s population.

In many ways, I tend to become a more relaxed version of myself when I travel, soaking in the experience and appreciating what a country has to offer. India was no exception, and even though we had a fairly rigid daily schedule, I enjoyed the more leisurely pace of Indian culture and the general reprieve from my Darden life and responsibilities. Problems rolled off of me more easily because, quite frankly, look around – whatever we think seems to be the biggest deal to us at any given moment…usually isn’t. Shrug a little. This couldn’t have been more evident than when we visited a Teach for India private school in the slums where tuition was $7/month–a fee that many of the students’ parents have problems paying. Looking around at the dilapidated school, I couldn’t help but think of my private high school back in Baltimore–night and day difference. And yet, the children at the school were smiling, happy, running around, and performing a Shakespeare play for us in English.

I may not have come back from spring break with a characteristic tan, but I did return with immeasurable gratitude, appreciation, and excitement for the experience, Indian culture and the prospects of their future and its impact on global business. I’m grateful that my classmates and I took this leap and went to India; we will probably never again be given the opportunity to travel somewhere like this on a school trip and with a business student mindset. This trip has shifted the way I think I will travel in the future, and by that I mean that I will be more curious about how other countries handle business rather than just appreciating tourist sites and more obvious signs of culture. I’m looking forward to returning to India again in the future to continue to explore all of the wonderful things the country has to offer; in the meantime, I’m especially looking forward to a summer of international travel before moving and starting my job in August!  While the countries I’m slated to visit differ significantly from India, I have no doubt that the experience I just went through will contribute to the new travel lens I have acquired.

pashminas galore! we bought many....

Taj Mahal

Picante, started by Darden '10 and '11 grads

Teach for India

Mumbai train station

markets

camel

India = color heaven for me! and how perfect that DVF was visiting India the same week?

McSpicy Paneer Sandwich and a Diet Coke - just really taking in the whole India experience.

Posted in Darden, Leadership, Second Year, Travel

Second Year Bootcamp

“Give about two [hours] every day to exercise; for health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body makes the mind strong.” – Thomas Jefferson

What do you do when your SY schedule means 1) flexible time and 2) lots of eating and drinking? You unofficially enroll in bootcamp.

I remember seeing SY girls in the halls last year in their spandex, zip ups, running shoes, and ponytails and looking forward to a year when I’d actually have the time for a regular exercise routine.

And while I try my best not to roll into class in my workout clothes (I feel too weird since the professors and guest speakers are in their suits), my friends and I find ourselves in workout attire more often than not–in meetings at school, lounging around, trips to Sweet Frog, and then yes, actually working out.

It has become a priority: in SY, you drink like a fish and you eat like you’re going to the electric chair. There seems to be some sense of urgency, grasping at these fleeting moments of freedom and lack of responsibility before the real world swallows us whole. Group dinners, wine tours, parties…..the list goes on. And yet, I’m just as likely to run into classmates at North Grounds Rec Center as I am at Power Hour Wednesdays at Boylan.

And while we still have calendar invites for group projects, leadership meetings, and so on, many of our calendar invites are group trips to workout classes.

I wrote a little while ago about taking up skiing and biking this year (and, case in point, that very same post was half fueled with food and wine entries just as much as it was with exercise), and many of my classmates have also taken up golf, personal training, tennis, CrossFit, etc. I still keep up my running routine, but here are a few other things that have been keeping us busy:

1) Yoga

Last year my yoga mat sat rolled up and upright in the corner of my den, used a total of two times throughout the course of the year. This year I’ve been using it on an almost daily basis, and my friends and I take yoga classes (thanks to LivingSocial and Studio 206) and try out yoga DVDs. We recently brought our yoga mats along to the West Virginia ski trip for some DVD workouts…

West Virginia Ski Trip AKA our yoga retreat

I had been wondering about Bikram yoga (105 degree room, 40% humidity, 90 minutes, 26 poses) for the last several months, so I finally gave it a go last week. I shocked my system by going four times in week 1 (both with friends and solo) and I’m completely hooked now. Namaste, b*tches.

Bikram Yoga Charlottesville

2) Exercise Classes

Not just 80s aerobics and step classes anymore. The Aquatics and Fitness Center (AFC) has a bunch of classes that my friends and I attend regularly, our favorite being H.A.B.I.T. (Hips, Abs/Arms, Back/Buns & Incredible Thighs) on Mondays and Fridays at 4:30….

Lots of equipment for H.A.B.I.T.

One of my friends has also gotten so into her spinning classes that she became a certified spinning instructor this year.

And of course, my other favorite….ZUMBA!! I basically feel like I’m on the No. 3 dance floor on a Saturday night in that class. Heaven.

3) Hiking

And yes, we do get outdoors. Charlottesville has plenty of outdoor walks, trails, and hikes to take advantage of!

on a hike with our mascot--Hank Taco

It looks like we’re doing Thomas Jefferson proud–in the scope of wine consumption, exercise, and academia. And if we can re-enter the real world at our Darden starting/fighting weight….well, then I would consider Second Year Bootcamp a success.

Posted in Charlottesville, Darden, Friendships, Second Year

What I miss about First Year (FY/SY Scorecard)

Second Years seem to have it all–time, freedom, electives…I can’t even begin to count the number of times a First Year has made a comment to me about looking forward to being a Second Year.

That being said, I put together a rough scorecard of my First Year experience vs. my Second Year experience….

I did this (mostly) as a joke, but I did want to have some kind of comparison for day to day life. At a glance, it looks like the Second Years have it all. Right?

Wrong.

And this is where some of my classmates may disagree with me. . .

There are plenty of things I miss about First Year that we don’t have in our Second Year. Sure, I was a mess 90% of the time last year, in tears about not understanding Excel, cases, and people; taking out my lack of control re: all things Darden to those closest to me; barely having time to see the inside of a gym let alone hopping on a treadmill; stammering my way through cold calls; and struggling to take on a huge leadership position at this time last year.

But there are so many things we simply don’t have this year. I saw my friends, without fail, every day last year–that’s the beauty of First Coffee and all of the First Years having class during the same time block. This year, I can go days on end without seeing some of my friends and classmates if we don’t make time to do so. Our class schedules are all completely different, which can make Outlook scheduling a total nightmare. Early Week, Late Week, Morning, Afternoon classes…I have two classes in Quarter 3 that both meet in the mornings in Late Week–meaning I barely have to be at school, although I usually find myself there every day for various meetings and work anyway, but the flexibility of everybody’s schedules means you have to try a lot harder to make it work this year.

At times (and please, don’t read too much into this one–only SOMEtimes), I do miss the challenges I felt being a First Year. As much as some of those classes made me miserable (understatement) and I was the worst version of myself (also an understatement), I could tell that I was being pushed and stretched and this big butt of mine was getting a solid kicking. It’s a feeling that I haven’t had as much of an extreme of this year with regards to my coursework, since I’ve chosen classes that focus on what my future career path will be. Yes, they have been challenging, but that absolute discomfort and dread and change isn’t there–and most oftentimes, that’s how we grow. I look back at who I was last year and I barely recognize myself (not just because of the blonde hair)–the challenges I faced last year have made me tremendously more confident and happier this year, and I’m actually grateful for those experiences.

And last and most importantly, there is the comradery. I miss having Sections, knowing that EVERYBODY will be at TNDC, that everyone is making all-things-Darden their priority. As I’m transitioning my leadership role over, I’ve had to go through a number of emails from last year and have come across a jackpot of funny inside jokes in Sections B and 3, long email chains among a dozen people, old party invites, emails recounting the weekends, etc.  A classmate said it best about the DSA Mardi Gras party we had this past Friday night–he said that it was just like First Year TNDCs all over again, when it felt like our entire class would take over a bar and, inevitably, a dance floor. It felt special because that doesn’t happen as often as it used to. Friend groups have solidified a bit more over the course of Second Year, and it’s been tough to find those unifying moments as a class–again, mostly, I think, because of everybody’s schedules.

First Year and Second Year are night and day, completely different. We need to go through First Year to appreciate what Second Year is, but I also don’t want us forgetting about all the great things FY gave us. So FYs, don’t wish this time away–the ball game is about to change dramatically, and it’s not all sunshine and cupcakes on this side either.

…But it’s definitely not a bad way to spend a year.

Posted in Darden, First Year, Leadership, Second Year, Section

Darden @ Mardi Gras…and Mardi Gras @ Darden! (Photo Edition)

This past weekend, about two dozen Second Years and I embarked on a trip to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras.

I finally got there, but not without a few hiccups. Two friends and I–after sprinting, yelling, and throwing bows in the Charlotte airport–missed our connecting flight. After learning that there were NO available flights on any airline to New Orleans or surrounding city/states (combination of Mardi Gras + Presidents Day Weekend), we decided to forgo the Saturday morning ticket re-issuance and get in a rental car and drive to New Orleans. The three of us are the kinds of girls who get sh*t done; emails are immediately read, responded to, archived/deleted; To Do lists are crossed off with magnificent force and gusto; Type A isn’t just a type, it’s a lifestyle, and one that gets us places. Literally. And so, if our Outlook calendar says we are going to be in NoLa on Friday…well, damn it, we were going to get to NoLa on Friday. As we said many times over the weekend, “returning to Charlottesville was never an option.” Had the trio been slightly different, we might have had a very different outcome.

So off we went, 11 hours at harrowing speeds and we arrived in NoLa–after what proved to be a hysterical and memorable road trip (who needs an audio book?). And, obviously, we had king cake waiting for us upon arrival.

Welcome to NoLa!

The next few days were a whirlwind of Bourbon Street, parades, and total mayhem. Our friend from New Orleans also lived a few blocks from the parade route, which proved to be a life saver many times–bathroom breaks, drink refills, bead unloading, etc. It was great to get out of Charlottesville while also spending time with my Darden friends–something that the SY schedule [and namely only have 2 classes, both late week, in Q3] definitely affords us to do (more on that in my next post). Some pictures of the weekend–

Bourbon Street

This was taken at 5 pm CST

 

This. Is. SPARTAAAAA!

It was Christmas Morning all weekend long for Kendall

Mama Sades, after chasing down a float

Jojo and her festive flair

Miss West is in the building

Jules, Hostess with the mostess!!!

MEESTER MEESTER! A KEES! A KEEEEES!

Will Ferrell!! King of the Bacchus Parade

part of the Darden group

I absolutely fell in love with both New Orleans and Mardi Gras and am already looking forward to taking more trips there in the future (Sorry, LeBretons!!). This Friday, though, we’re bringing a taste of Mardi Gras to Darden. DSA Social and Outreach are teaming up to throw the first ever MARDI GRAS PARTY! Students, make sure you come to Boylan Heights and enjoy a night of beads, music, and drinks!!

DSA Mardi Gras Party this Friday @ Boylan Heights!! 10 pm - 2 am

Posted in Charlottesville, Darden, DSA, Friendships, Second Year, Travel