Sarah Silvestri (Class of 2022) will graduate in May after serving as president of Building Goodness in April (BGiA).  This Darden student-run organization is “dedicated to keeping low-income, elderly, and disabled homeowners living in safety and dignity through home repair and rehabilitation volunteer services in the Charlottesville community.” Prior to Darden, Silvestri triple majored at Boston College, served in the Peace Corps, lived in Benin, West Africa and pursued a professional career in Risk Assurance before enrolling at Darden in January 2021 as part of the unique Section J.

Sarah Silvestri, Class of 2022

Pre-Darden background

For undergrad I attended Boston College where I triple majored in Finance, Accounting, and Philosophy. After graduation I completed my CPA and joined the Peace Corps. I spent two years living in Benin, West Africa as an Economic Development Volunteer. Upon completion of my service, I worked in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Risk Assurance practice until I matriculated to Darden.

Post-Darden goals/plans

I spent the past summer working in investment banking at Moelis & Company’s NYC office and will be returning fulltime in July. Eventually, if an appropriate opportunity arises, I would love to expand my vantage point and work abroad again.

What attracted you to Investment Banking?

My decision to pursue investment banking was driven by a desire to work in a fast-paced, challenging environment that would accelerate my business acumen. Reflecting on my undergrad finance studies and the exposure to client services at PwC, I see banking as an avenue to build upon these interests and skillsets while gaining deep technical expertise on a broad array of companies. My dad (Darden Class of ’87) has always emphasized that one of the greatest gifts to your future self is creating options, in your career and otherwise. I am confident that banking will create a strong foundation to build a dynamic and resilient career and I’m excited to join a firm that will push me outside of my comfort zone and invest in my professional development.

What section were you in? What section traditions were your favorite?

I am in the most unique section in Darden’s history, Section J! Darden introduced our section for students to have flexibility in their matriculation timeline during Covid-19. We started in January and had a compressed First Year experience. As we are the only Section J to exist, we created our own traditions inspired from other sections. This included a “Champagne Fund” where students would donate small amounts of money in honor of something impressive, funny, or otherwise noteworthy that happened during class. It was a great way to keep a lighthearted mood when we were in the trenches of core and operating on a hybrid class model. We then used the funds to celebrate how far we’ve come! The novel experience of Section J created a bond that I will forever cherish as the most precious part of my Darden experience.

Favorite Darden experience and/or class?

Sarah and classmates on a Darden Worldwide Course in Iceland, March 2022.

I recently traveled to Iceland for a class on renewable energy through the Darden Worldwide Course curriculum. It was fascinating to experience Icelandic culture while learning from companies on the forefront of energy transformation. Incorporated in our course were trips to the Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle, which showcased the Nordic’s breathtaking beauty and reinforced the importance of preserving and sustainably powering our world.

Can you share more about what BGiA is and plans for the year?

Building Goodness in April (BGiA) is a Darden student-run organization dedicated to keeping low-income, elderly, and disabled homeowners living in safety and dignity through home repair and rehabilitation volunteer services in the Charlottesville community. Each year, BGiA raises funds from the generosity of Darden students, faculty, and staff through silent and live auctions. This year we shattered prior records with over $75,000 raised! We put these funds towards a Spring Build where we work with local contractors to repair and rehabilitate homes during a one-day event. Each year the Darden community amazes us with its support, so we have been focused on expanding our reach in C’ville and connecting our students to the local community in new ways.

BGiA Spring Build, 2021

What is the BGiA auction?

The Silent Auction takes place at the Holiday Ball and is where we auction off big-ticket items, such as a signed Tony Bennett basketball or ride in Dean Beardsley’s Tesla. For the live auction, each section puts together a slide deck of items donated by students, faculty, and local businesses that range from a kayaking trip with a Professor to a seat at a classmate’s wedding. During the event, each item will be auctioned off in the sections’ classrooms and things get competitive as students’ passion is channeled to a charitable cause. My favorite item I bid on last year was a portrait of my dog painted by one of my section classmates.

Why did you decide to take a student leadership role with BGiA?

Service to others has always been an integral part of my life and I am fortunate to have attended premier educational institutions that prioritize students connecting with and strengthening their local communities. Darden is truly a student-run graduate program and one of the hardest decisions students make is how to allocate our limited time. I got involved with BGiA early in my first year with the desire to learn about my neighbors. I feel fortunate to give my time to help facilitate Darden students going beyond the classroom and sharing our MBA educations to help improve the world.

How did you decide that Darden was your best fit?

Both of my parents earned their MBAs from Darden so one could say my attendance was predestined. While the coursework is a vital foundation to business success, I knew from my parents’ career evolutions that the Darden network will serve as a springboard for inflection points throughout an entire career and produce lifelong friendships. During the application process it was evident that Darden is looking for students who prioritize a sense of community and feel empowered to challenge classroom norms for the advancement of their peers. As an experiential learner, Darden felt like the perfect fit for academic challenge and personal growth, and I am grateful for the extensive support that has made this part of my career possible.