By Jacqui Lazo

Name: Stacey Chen (Class of 2017)

Hometown: Fujian, China

Pre-Darden University and Major: Tsinghua University, Accounting

Pre-Darden Employment: Deloitte, Audit

Internship: Bain, Consulting


As a young child, Stacey Chen (Class of 2017) grew up in the mountainous Fujian province in China, collecting eggs every morning and playing on her family’s farm in the afternoons. When she wasn’t in school, she was “enjoying boyish things: hiking mountains, making slingshots, catching insects,” she said.

In high school, the simple act of looking out of her bedroom window at the mountains gave her comfort. “It really released my stress and gave me inner peace,” Chen said. Then, in college, she began backpacking.

So the idea of being surrounded by the majesty of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains immediately appealed to Chen when she was considering attending the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. She also wanted a close-knit community in which to learn about how to become a well-rounded business leader.

Even before she arrived on Grounds, she knew she had found the right fit. “During the application process, I contacted many current students and alumni and got very quick replies from them,” she said. “They were all very nice and generous.”

Once in the classroom, Chen appreciated that differing opinions were celebrated, not shunned. “During the case discussions, I heard opinions from my peers with different backgrounds and expertise, which was a great learning experience and opportunity for me to understand fresh perspectives,” she said.

The case method also helped her hone her communications skills, which have empowered her to further develop her leadership style.

When it came time to find an internship, Chen relied on the Career Development Center (CDC), the career-related clubs she participated in and the advice of Second Year students. “The Darden CDC maintains great relationships with many employers, so there are great companies that come to Darden to have events and do interviews every year. The CDC also has career education workshops to help you prepare for recruiting,” she said.

One of Chen’s favorite moments at Darden was during the last day of “Financial Management and Policies,” when the professor shared a personal experience with the class. “In the end, he said: ‘We talked a lot about the synergies between companies, but the greatest synergy was among people. I hope you can realize you are not alone, you have great synergies as a community at Darden and support each other through your hard times.’ The moment touched me deeply,” said Chen. “And I understood that the most valuable thing I obtained at Darden is not the knowledge or the degree, it is the process and the people.”