Valentina Rizo (Class of 2023) is the Darden Student Association VP of Social, and is a proud Latina from Bogotá, Colombia. After spending almost a decade in sales for multi-national drink and brewing companies, she found herself at Darden. Her post-MBA goals included finding a company with great culture, learning opportunities and growth possibilities. After a successful internship at BCG this summer, Rizo will be returning to BCG after graduation. As a member of the Darden student leadership team, she has also tasked herself with creating a fun and inclusive environment for all Darden students.

Follow the Darden Student Association on Instagram: @dardendsa – you might see a few appearances from Valentina!

Q: What was your background before coming to Darden?

A: I studied engineering and then worked in finance for a couple of years after college, but then jumped to sales and fell in love with it. I spent six years at Diageo (British liquor company: Johnny Walker, Smirnoff, Tanqueray are some of their brands), then jumped to a sales managerial position in AB InBev where which I was in charge of the premium sales channel (bars, restaurants, events, etc.) and the luxury portfolio.

Valentina Rizo (Class of 2023) with her Section A First Year classmates

Q: How did you end up at Darden?

A: I had great interactions with staff at Darden. After visiting big schools in big cities, I decided I wanted a smaller class and a close community. I wanted to feel like I had a family here in the US. I also wanted to learn and have an integral academic experience. Darden has all these things; it was always my first choice.

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: What I hope to accomplish at Darden in my Second Year is to help create an experience and an environment of fun and inclusivity. I am on the DSA board as social vice-president and that is my main purpose for this year.

Q: How do you hope to impact Darden as a Latin American student?

A: I have always been very proud of being Colombian and eager to tell stories about my country. For spring break, I helped to plan two different trips to Cartagena of around 60 people in total and they loved it. There is nothing better in my experience that get to know a place be visiting it with a local, so I am also planning an “official” trek for January with my class.

Q: What advice do you have for prospective students about to embark on the application process?

A: It might sound a little cliché but be authentic! This university is built on values about who we are as people, not necessarily what we know how to do. Talk about your real experiences – not only professional but also personal. We all come from incredible backgrounds and have amazing contexts and stories to tell, we just need to believe more in ourselves.