Amanda Hedgecock (MBA ’22) recently graduated from Darden’s Full-Time MBA program and shared her unique experience attending the Paris Blockchain Week Summit this spring. Hedgecock is a Stamps Scholar, and utilized her scholarship stipend to attend the event and deepen her research about Ethereum, a cryptocurrency that she was writing an independent study about under the supervision of Professor Kinda Hachem. Hedgecock shared that the conference was a highlight of her MBA experience. Read on for additional insights from Hedgecock.

Up to five fellowship recipients each year are awarded full-tuition scholarships — funded 50 percent by the Stamps Scholars Program and 50 percent by Darden — in addition to an enrichment fund to support research, conference attendance or participation in Darden Worldwide global experiences. The funding arrangement for the fellowships leverages giving to drive additional support for a philanthropic passion.

Q: Who are you? What’s your background?

A: My name is Amanda Hedgecock, and I am a second year in the Darden Full-Time MBA program. I grew up in New York, got my undergrad degree from Duke University, and worked at PayPal as a risk analyst prior to business school. Here at Darden, I’ve been involved in the community through the Darden Fintech Club, as a Second Year Career Coach and as a fiddler in UVA’s bluegrass group.

Q: What led you to pursue an independent study at Darden?

A: When I visited Darden as a prospective student, I sat in on a finance class where they were discussing a case written by a Second Year student. I thought it was so cool that student research could shape the Darden academic experience. After I enrolled at Darden, I kept my eye out for research topics that were of interest to me.

During my first year, I had the opportunity to take Global Economies and Markets with the amazing professor, Kinda Hachem. It was a great learning experience, so in my second year, I signed up for her Economics of Money and Banking elective which was even better. Kinda had just incorporated some of her newest work about cryptocurrencies and monetary policy into the class curriculum. With my work experience in digital payments at PayPal, I found the material to be fascinating.

I asked Kinda if she would supervise an independent study project, and we started narrowing in on a research question. Over the last quarter, I’ve researched Ethereum, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency, and written a technical note about the economic forces impacting it. My hope is to get the technical note published by Darden Business Publishing in the future.

Q: And how did this project lead you to France?

A: I wanted to attend a blockchain conference so I could hear from industry leaders and deepen my learnings. I came across the Paris Blockchain Week Summit, a meeting of 3,000 attendees from around the world, and thought it would be perfect. I was able to cover the travel costs to spend a week in France thanks to my Darden Stamps Scholarship which included an enrichment stipend.

Q: What were the highlights of your trip?

A: Without a doubt, this experience was one of the best parts of my MBA. Darden has taught me how important it is to connect with others and learn from them, so getting to build relationships in-person at the conference after two years of Covid was really nice! And of course, I loved getting to explore Paris! It was perfect spring weather throughout my trip, and I enjoyed spending time at cafes and walking around the city.

Q: How has this experience shaped your trajectory after Darden?

A: The Darden classroom gives students vast practice distilling complex technical concepts into the key facets that are relevant to a strategic decision. Writing a technical note prompted me to do this on a larger scale than I was used to in my other classes. In addition, this project pushed me to form perspectives on technology that is still in its early days, a skill that will be valuable as I pursue a career in tech. After Darden, I’ll be joining Microsoft as a business program manager and I’m happy to have capped off my rich MBA experience with this project.

Day 1 of the Paris Blockchain Week Summit. Photo credit: Amanda Hedgecock
The view from atop the Arc de Triomphe. Photo credit: Amanda Hedgecock