This week marked the end of the Core Curriculum for our First Years, and the Darden SWAT team hosted a celebration for the students. We caught up with Second Year student and SWAT team member, Justin Masters, to talk more about the event.

What’s the SWAT team? SWAT stands for “School Was Awesome Today,” and the SWAT team concept was derived as a result of an analysis of the First Year experience as part of Professor Jeanne Liedtka’s class, “Innovation and Design Thinking.” The team’s focus is to spontaneously and creatively encourage First Years, and their planning is cloaked in secrecy. You just never know where they’ll turn up next. Want to learn more? Check out this vintage blog post from 2014.

What is the End of Core celebration?

The End of Core Celebration was a surprise event hosted by the Darden SWAT Team to mark and celebrate that the First Years finished the Core Curriculum.

What activities were included as part of the celebration?

Just before the last Core class ended at 1:10 pm, we lined the halls from the First Year classrooms to PepsiCo Forum with Darden faculty, staff, and Second Years to congratulate the First Years on their accomplishment! Encouraging posters and high-fives abounded. We also had music, a word from DSA President Tom Gonzalez and snacks (you always need snacks).

How did you feel when you completed the Core Curriculum as a First Year?

When I finished the Core Curriculum in my First Year, it was a very bittersweet moment. I was both relieved and proud to have made it through what is an academically rigorous experience. I felt nostalgic that I wouldn’t be sharing the classroom exclusively with my Section anymore, but at the same time, I was excited to choose elective courses and take them with other members of my class.

Why did you decide to serve on the SWAT team?  

I remember how much the SWAT team brightened my First Year experience, and I wanted to pay it forward and support this year’s First Years through spontaneous surprise and delight.