We are thrilled to share two special student features on the blog over the next week — Darden’s Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) Fellowship recipients! September is Charlottesville Pride Month, and these students have demonstrated incredible leadership and commitment to their LGBTQ+ communities. Prepare to be inspired!

Today, Chris Kraft (she/hers) (Class of 2022) shares more about her journey to Darden and DeMario Moore (he/him) (Class of 2022) makes his debut on the blog early next week.

Associate Director of Admissions for Diversity Recruitment Marc Paulo Guzman shared insights about the fellowships, “Darden started partnering with ROMBA in 2018 to award the fellowship as a signal of our commitment to improving the LGBTQ+ communities at Darden and in business. The criteria for the fellowship includes their personal, academic and professional accomplishments, as well as their answers to two essay questions — one

Chris Kraft (she/her), ROMBA Fellowship Recipient

focused on how their LGBTQ+ identity impacts their work and life; another focused on concrete plans they have to improve the LBGTQ+ communities at Darden. Both Chris Kraft (she/hers) and DeMario Moore (he/him) had phenomenal examples of initiatives and programs they wish to introduce to Darden, as well as collaborations they wish to have with other clubs at Darden and on Grounds to increase ally-ship and the normalization of LGBTQ/Queer identities in business and business education. Learn more about ROMBA and their fellowship.”

Hi, I’m Chris Kraft, I use s/her pronouns and I’m a student at the Darden School of Business.

I start out each episode of my podcast, The Career Queer, with “Hi”. While episodes can start with “outtakes”, there is always a greeting, welcoming your ears and mind to the podcast.

Ah, yes, I have a podcast! I just launched it during August 2020, and I have 11 episodes out so far. The podcast came from my experience pursuing LGBTQ+ equity at Ecolab between 2016 and 2020. During those four years, I gave presentations with topics ranging from “Uncovering Your  Authentic Self” to “Trans* Folks in the Military” with military panelists. Under my leadership and organization, we also participated in the Ashley

June 2019, Ecolab CEO Doug Baker and team putting together the Pride float

Rukes Pride Parade in Minneapolis, MN and built a float in my garage. In 2020, our team was able to advocate for and have pronouns in our official company signature, reimagined and unveiled our new transition policy, and went through a major float upgrade. Through all of this, I learned that I have a deep passion and growing expertise in the work stories of queer people and work culture in general. Thus – a workplace podcast centered on the LGBTQ+ experience was created! I script, interview, record, cut, and publish the episodes myself, and its time consuming and FUN work.

A “Hi” is also how I was introduced to Darden. I was at a multi-school event in Minneapolis when I met an admissions staff member. She greeted me with a warm smile and a “Hi” and we discussed the warm, supportive, and intellectually curious community at Darden. She was also the only admissions officer at that event who I felt seen by – not just as another potential student but as a person. This interaction, and the interactions with students, staff, and alumni continued to build on this person-focused interaction, acknowledging all my skills, talents, and knowledge that I provide.

I’ve been at Darden for three weeks now, and it has been a whirlwind. Virtual and Hybrid classes are going better than I hoped, and my section (D) is getting closer with each other every day. When I sought out an academically rigorous experience, I was not prepared that reality – 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. everyday doing class, networking, case prep and learning team fill my day up quickly! While its tough, I would never want anything else. My intellectual curiosity has been reignited by the classwork and the insights from my classmates – that’s what I’m really here for.

Beyond my section, I have also continued to create and build friendships with other members of PAD. Pride at Darden is the LGBTQ+ club, and as a queer / Bi+ person who is passionate about gender, racial, and social equity, I have found students with whom I feel passionate about changing the world with. Don’t be surprised if you find us socially distancing at Sunday polo at King Family Vineyards discussing oppression, bias, our place within that, and, of course, our favorite wines. All are welcome to join, just remember to bring a chair.

Chris Kraft (Class of 2021) records her podcast, Career Queer

A Forté mentor told me once to go to the school that feels like home. That’s what Darden feels like for me, and if you are curious, driven, kind, empathetic, and want to be surrounded by purposeful people, I think it may be the right fit for you. Truly, not one of my classmates is like the other, and its our diversity of experiences and selves that makes this community special. Find your home, find your people. Good luck.

A Few Stats:

  • Hometown: St. Paul, MN
  • Background: Corporate Finance for Ecolab, rotational program
  • Fun Facts: My favorite animals are cats, pigs, and manatees
  • Recruiting for: Consulting; Marketing; HR
  • Awards/Fellowships: ROMBA Fellow, Forte Fellow, Dean’s Innovation Fellow, McKinsey LGBTQ+ Achievement Award 2020 Recipient

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