First Year Daniela Fernández (Class of 2023) began her path to Darden a bit earlier than some of her classmates. She enrolled in the Full-Time MBA program after applying to Darden through the Future Year Scholars Program, a deferred enrollment program for college seniors and graduate students in their final year of study.

Fernández recently shared her experiences on a student panel event, where she cited the community as being one of the main reasons that she chose to attend Darden — and now that she is here, it is also one of her favorite aspects of being a Darden student!

Undergraduate School

ITESM (Tecnologico de Monterrey), Mexico

Graduation Year


Pre-Darden Background

5+ years of experience in consumer products marketing. Most recently the Brand Manager of Barbie in Mattel Latin America

Daniela Fernández, Class of 2023

Q: What about the MBA  program stood out to you?

A: The case method, no doubt! It’s is an empowering tool that allows students to gain incredible amounts of self-knowledge and confidence during the process. There are no right or wrong answers in the case method and there’s no magic formula to solve the question that’s posed. It’s all about digging deep in your convictions and knowledge. This learning process also a great way of developing strategic thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills, rather than a technicity in a specific field; since it provides exposure to a wide range of strategic business issues.

Q: What did you do between graduating from your undergraduate institution and joining Darden?

A: I’ve been lucky to have an exciting career in marketing since I got out of college and I’m genuinely passionate about the practice area. Nonetheless, it’s essential to have a broad perspective of the different aspects of business for making a real impact. An MBA is an excellent asset for knowledge diversification, and also it’s a life-changing experience I wanted to go through. The second reason that led me to pursue an MBA is that I wanted to acquire international experience outside of Latin America, learn about other regions, and extrapolate my experiences.

Q: What’s your favorite part of your Darden experience now that you’re here on Grounds?

A: My favorite part of Darden is the community. In a word I’d describe it as fraternal. The deepness of the relationships and unconditional support make the Darden community a second family who will always extend a hand and help you become a better person.

Q: Do you have a favorite class or professor so far?

A: The faculty at Darden is a fantastic mixture of inspirational professors and terrific friends. All the alumni I’ve met keep in contact with the faculty throughout the years, continuing to consult them for their daily life challenges. As an international student I praised having a solid support system, to build meaningful relationships with fellow students and professors.

I never imagined I’d say this, but my favorite class is Accounting! My favorite professor is Luann Lynch.

Q: What advice do you have for someone thinking about applying to Darden’s Future Year Scholars Program?

A: Darden is one of the most compassionate business schools from the top tier MBAs. The advice I would give to any applicant is to keep it real and be authentic. Dig deep in yourself to identify what makes you a unique candidate amongst all the amazingly well-prepared applicants and how you will become a purpose-driven leader.

Experience Darden Podcast

Fernández joins the Experience Darden podcast to talk about her career prior to Darden – including a stint at Mattel serving as a regional brand manager for Barbie – as well as how she decided to pursue an MBA. She also reflects upon her first year at Darden, her plans for the summer, and some of her extracurricular activities, including the Darden student/faculty band and the Cold Call Chorus.