By Anelle Mensah
Nagea Delaya came to the United States from Indonesia, earning a BE at the Bandung Institute of Technology in Bandung, Indonesia in 2010. While completing her undergraduate work, she developed her passion for entrepreneurship and social impact and set her sights on pursuing a career within those fields. To further her skills, she sought out business school as a means to achieve her goals. “I first heard about Darden from a friend who was pursuing his MBA in the U.S. I was looking for a business school with good reputation in entrepreneurship and social impact and Darden was one of the schools he recommended,” she shared.
As she learned more about the school, its culture, and the programs offered, Nagea immediately connected with faculty, alumni, and current students through Darden’s expansive network — both in Charlottesville and Indonesia. “A few weeks before my interview, Darden held an info session in Indonesia which was also attended by the alumni, who were very successful, but also incredibly humble. I managed to have mock interviews with alumni, and from my interactions with them I quickly learned about the school’s collaborative culture,” she reflected. Through the assistance of Darden alumni, Nagea established relationships with important individuals within the Indonesian and Darden community as she weighed her options for business school. “Even before I knew that I was going to accept Darden’s admission offer, knowing my interest in social impact, an alumna introduced me to a successful social entrepreneur in Indonesia. She also wanted to ensure my safety living all by myself in a foreign country I’ve never been to and thus introduced me to the wife of the Indonesian Ambassador for the U.S. At least I would know somebody I could go to if any serious problems arose.” she said.
The decision to attend Darden proved to be an easy one for Nagea, who appreciated Darden’s commitment to both diversity and affordability. “The school (along with student association and clubs) organized various events to help international students like myself get accustomed with the U.S. culture. There were numerous formal and informal discussions on diversity (led by professors and students!), which not only enriched my perspective in facing globalization, but also increased my level of tolerance. I was also offered a scholarship that was dedicated for Indonesian students at Darden. Although I eventually turned down the offer, and accepted the scholarship offer from the Indonesian government instead, I will never forget how relieved I was knowing that a U.S. MBA program could be affordable. All of these showed me that Darden really cared about having diversity in its school.”
The network continues to serve as a beneficial resource for Nagea, especially in her professional development. “The CDC helped a lot with clearing up my doubts about career choices and with structuring my thoughts around the necessary entrepreneurial experiences I could gain during my two years at Darden. They’ve also helped me brainstorm different paths I could take as I pursue the entrepreneurship track,” she stated.
Leaving Indonesia for the United States was an adjustment for Nagea, but being at Darden made the transition a smooth one. “I lived in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, which was a very crowded and busy city with endless things to do every day. At first, I was a little shocked by how quiet and peaceful Charlottesville is. But, once school started, I realized that being in a peaceful place is exactly what I needed to get through the intense business school life.” Moreover, the tight-knit and supportive community with her peers allowed her to feel accepted in all aspects of her identities, something that she continues to share and emphasize with prospective students from Indonesia who reach out to her. “I’m a Muslim, and Indonesia has the highest Muslim population in the world. The march for Muslims that was done by the UVA community a while ago sent me a very powerful message. It reflects solidarity and tolerance, and it really warmed my heart. Everyone here is so welcoming and knowing that they would fight for my rights makes me feel accepted,” she said.
In addition to the supportive community she found in the students here at Darden, Nagea established bonds and relationships with the faculty. She describes the faculty as her favorite part about being at Darden. “They are the most amazing teachers I’ve ever encountered in my life. They do not only teach specific subjects but also they have an interest in their students and are very encouraging. I don’t know where else I’d find this level of interaction with faculty.”
Darden students often find their niche within clubs and Nagea has found three clubs the most valuable to her in terms of her professional development and personal interests. Singing since the age of twelve, she joined Darden’s Cold Call Chorus, where she can relax and “feel at home”. Her love for singing pushed her to rise through the ranks and straight to the top — as the next President of Cold Call Chorus! Furthermore, her involvement in the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club (EVC) allowed her to gain and further develop relevant and necessary skills for her future career path. “In Net Impact, I gained new ideas and perspectives about social entrepreneurship through the Net Impact Conference in Philadelphia last year. One idea that stuck in my head is biomimicry, an innovation to solve sustainability by mimicking natural phenomena. The presenter was a tile company that created a beautiful pattern and found way to install the tile without using glue or cement (thus saving water!) by mimicking the falling leaves in autumn season. I also learned a lot from EVC, which helped me practice my pitch when I applied to the iLab incubator program. While I didn’t get into the program, the process itself has been really fulfilling because it helped me structured my thoughts and laid out the actions I need to take to start my own venture.”
Nagea is going to spend her summer in Google Indonesia and hopes to return to Indonesia following graduation in order to pursue social entrepreneurship — a budding field in Indonesia – and retains the lessons and opportunities from Darden to help her fulfill those dreams.