This week on Discover Darden, we’re thrilled to feature recipients of UVA Darden’s Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) Fellowships, Javin Dana and Aidan Connell (both Class of 2024).

Darden is a proud partner of Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA), awarding these distinguished fellowships each year as a signal of Darden’s commitment to improving the LGBTQ+ communities at Darden and in business.

Dana shared insights about his journey to Darden and how he plans to put his JD/MBA to work creating inclusive spaces in both his academic and professional settings.


Javin Dana, Class of 2024

Name: Javin Dana

Pronouns: I use he/him pronouns

Q: Where are you from?

A: I grew up in a small suburb of Portland, Oregon with my mom, sisters and two dogs. I grew to love hiking, bike-riding, rafting, being outdoors and trying all the coffee and wine Oregon has to offer. Once I moved to the East Coast, I’ve stayed ever since because of the inclusive community, friends and opportunities.

Q: How has being a member of the LGBTQ+ community impacted your professional, academic, and personal journey?

A: As a bi man, I always understood the importance of making space for folks who feel othered. Being part of the LGBTQ+ community taught me the importance of working with others to solve problems and to make everyone feel included. I carried my identity into pro bono work at The Right to Immigration Institute helping asylum seekers and to my work at JPMorgan, Goodwin, and to Davis Polk this upcoming summer. I have also brought my perspective to UVA Law to help create space for those who feel othered.

Q: What was your background before coming to Darden?

A: Before coming to Darden, I completed my first year at UVA Law as part of my JD/MBA dual degree. Before starting at the Law School, I was a Summer Analyst at JPMorgan in their Tech Coverage Group working on FinTech companies. Prior to that, I worked as an immigration case assistant in Boston helping asylum seekers while I attended college at Brandeis University. My interest in corporate legal work, investment banking and pro bono work motivated me to pursue my JD/MBA.

Q: How did you end up at Darden for your MBA?

A: Darden’s emphasis on teamwork and community drove me to pursue the program. I knew I wanted to pursue an MBA to complement my JD and saw a great opportunity to study in the energetic, team-based environment at Darden. The strong consulting and finance career opportunities, variety of interesting student organizations and collegial culture also particularly stuck out to me. During the interview process, I connected with the outgoing head of Pride at Darden (PAD) and had an amazing experience with my student interviewer, which confirmed my excitement for the MBA program.

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I am passionate about pursuing a career in growth equity, using my experience in corporate law and investment banking to gain better insight into how financial technology companies function and grow. I am also interested in using my law degree to continue to provide support for underserved communities through pro bono work. While at Darden, I hope to branch out in my understanding of the banking and buy-side landscape, build my technical skills and develop connections with the amazing people who make up Darden’s student body.

Q: How do you hope to impact Darden as a ROMBA fellow?

A: My main goal as a ROMBA fellow and dual degree candidate is to try to bridge gaps between queer communities at the various graduate programs at UVA. I aim to build connections between Pride at Darden (PAD) and Lambda Law, as well as the undergraduate programs. I aim to create cross-program networking events for students who feel like they do not completely fit into one career or social community. I also hope to expand the social opportunities to build out a stronger, more unified queer community across UVA. In my first year at Darden, I hope to build a stronger connection with Lambda, set up community networking events and build out a mentorship program for LGBTQ+ graduates and undergraduates.

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

A: My advice is to focus on being authentic. Darden builds an MBA class that is unique and diverse, and the best way to stand out is by being yourself. During my process, I leaned into how my unique identities, dual degree program and experience made me a unique fit at Darden, because it was authentic to my story. Darden is looking for you to be your authentic self, so lean into that!

Q: Now that you’re in the final quarter as First Year MBA student, what has been the highlight of your Darden experience so far?

A: The Darden Cup talent show was a capstone of my experience in First Year at Darden! Darden is certainly known for its social and collaborative atmosphere and the Darden Cup is a great example of that: Students compete against other class sections for a chance at glory and bragging rights. Luckily, I have had an amazing section this year full of so many talented people, and their talents were on full display at the talent show. Our other talented ROMBA Fellow, Aidan Connell, produced an incredible Darden First Year performance incorporated ABBA, the Princess Bride, and Bollywood-inspired dancing. Our section won and the atmosphere was electric. People stormed the stage and we all celebrated just as core was winding down. It really encapsulated how fun, exciting and friendly the Darden experience can be!