Student Profile or Feature

Meet Current First Year Darden MBA Student, Carissa Sanchez!

By Susannah Fuller-

Class of 2020 Darden MBA student, Carissa Sanchez grew up in Three Points, Arizona and studied mechanical engineering at Yale, and she recently sat down with us to talk with us about her MBA journey. Check out Carissa’s answers below!

Fun Fact About Yourself:
As a kid, I raised pigs for auction and received my first lesson in accounting/finance – my stepdad taught me how to calculate profits based on my costs (building a pig pen, food and medication purchases) and my revenues (the price per pound I was able to sell my pigs for at the county fair). I was hooked.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school?
I’m looking forward to the Darden’s Outdoors Club. I’ve never spent much time in the mid-Atlantic or South, and I can’t wait to explore, hike, kayak, camp, [insert grueling activity that requires bugspray here] with my classmates in the beautiful area surrounding Charlottesville.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?
I wanted to learn more, faster. I loved the content of my job, but I realized, in order to take on bigger challenges that were intellectually engaging, I needed to be at a VP level. I also recognized that in my industry, the typical path to VP required 20 years in plants in rural areas. I wanted an accelerated timeline and more opportunities for growth, so I decided to pursue an MBA and catapult myself into applicant pools for jobs where I could focus more on strategy and management.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment?
For me, it was a no-brainer, regardless of time or money. As a first-generation college graduate and a Native American, I never had a question about the value of an MBA. I knew I needed to do this to raise the standard of achievement for my people and to prove that we’re out here, we’re smart, and we’re making things happen. Fortunately, the Consortium Fellowship supports ambitions and perspectives like mine, and it helped make this next step in my career that much easier.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are?
From the time I was in high school, I knew I wanted to give back to my Native American tribe, and I initially thought I’d need to start a non-profit or become a teacher in order to make that happen. However, there was a moment in college when I realized my strengths were actually better suited to climbing the corporate ladder and mentoring others while pulling them up with me. Now, I’m all about gaining the knowledge and experience to put a Native American, female face at the highest level of a corporation, where those who look like me are rarely found. And as I get there, I’ll be prepared to share my knowledge and expertise with the underrepresented minorities who will come after me.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I hope to be continually growing in my career and finding ways to mentor, give back, and train the next generation of leaders. Ideally I’ll be in Denver or Texas, spending time with family, and doing plenty of hiking and kayaking.