Jen Chaquette (Class of 2024) is a first year student in the Executive MBA program and currently works in corporate strategy for a defense and technology firm in the Northern Virginia area. She attended the University of Pennsylvania for her undergraduate studies, majoring in Political Science.

Jen Chaquette (Class of 2024)

Chaquette and a few of her classmates recently formed an informal running club that meets up during Executive MBA weekend residencies in Rosslyn. We caught up with Chaquette to talk about more about this initiative, as well to hear more about her program experience. The running club is an active addition to the lineup of weekend residency wellness activities – including sunrise yoga – that have been organized and led by Executive MBA students in recent years.

Q: Tell us more about the running club. How did it get started?

A: Over the summer, a bunch of us were connecting about our interests and running seemed to be a common theme. During the first Leadership Residency (LR1) in Charlottesville, we were catching up the night before classes started, and a number of people asked me if I was going running in the morning. We decided to meet up the next morning to go for a run prior to the first day of classes. 5 or 6 people showed up, and the running club was born! We ended up running every morning of LR1, and have continued the tradition during each weekend residency.

Executive MBA students after participating in “Run with Jim” during Leadership Residency 1 in Charlottesville.

Q: How often does the group run?

A: We meet up at 6:15 am during the weekend residencies for a three to five mile run. All paces and abilities are welcome, and we really enjoy getting to take in some of the sights Washington, D.C. before starting class. Our runs typically take us around the National Mall and the Georgetown waterfront.

There are currently efforts underway to start a broader wellness committee that would work across both Executive MBA classes to promote health and well-being, and we are hoping to expand our activities to include meditation or yoga on one morning of the weekend residency. We think this will give even more people a chance to participate.

Q: How has this activity added to your weekend residency experience?

A: We have a great core group that almost always shows up, but we have had additional classmates join along the way. There’s a real community spirit within our group, which is particularly appreciated during the summer D.C. heat and the cold and rain at this time of year. Running and exercise has been a great way to connect with people from the broader class and get to know people outside of an academic setting. Also, the sunrise views of DC when we pass by the Lincoln Memorial are not to be missed!

Running Club members in front of the Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C.

Q: How would you describe a weekend residency?

A: It’s like being away at camp! I’m kidding, but also… kind of not. The weekend residency is a bit like being in a bubble in the best possible way. The weekend is jam-packed with activities including classes, but also fun social activities. Fridays are the first day of the weekend residency and have such a fun energy. Classmates begin showing up throughout the morning, catching up, grabbing something to eat, and are so happy to see each other. Saturday is the longest day, with classes running from 8:20 until 5:00 or so, and I’ve found that the running club is a great start to this really busy day.

On Friday nights, Learning Teams will often go out for dinner, and on Saturday evening there is often a class-wide social event. We’ve gone bowling in Georgetown, taken in a Capitols hockey game, and we have a ping pong outing planned for this weekend’s residency.

Q: What is your favorite memory from the program so far?

A: The “Run with Jim” (UVA President Jim Ryan) I participated in during LR1 in Charlottesville. A few of us participated in the run, and it was truly a special moment. I’m hopeful we can reprise this activity when we are back in Charlottesville for Learning Residency 2! I also really enjoyed our Quarter 3 Kickoff/Back to School Social in January. After not seeing my classmates for a month over the holidays, it was so great to bring everyone back together under one roof and have the opportunity to mingle.

Members of the Running Club in front of the Rotunda in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for prospective students?

A: Focus on the connections you make with your classmates inside and outside of the classroom. Whether it’s running club, or another way of connecting, the relationships you build at Darden will be meaningful for both your professional and personal experience in the program.

Executive MBA and Full-Time MBA students participate in "Run with Jim," during the first week of classes. University of Virginia President Jim Ryan routinely hosts #runwithjim as a casual way for members of the UVA community to connect with him and each other.