Raised in Uruguay, Martin Vargas Del Rio (Class of 2023) studied economics at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Before applying to Darden, Martin was an entrepreneur for 9 years, co-founding 2 tech startups, and also as a financial advisor for Kempton Asset Management. At Darden, Martin has been heavily involved in the various clubs and activities on campus. This past August, he received the C. Steward Sheppard Distinguished Service Award, which is awarded to those that display exceptional service to the school and community. As president of the Latin American Student Association (LASA), Martin shared more about his First Year Darden experience and his hopes for LASA.

1. Tell us about yourself! What led you to attend Darden?

I was born and raised in Uruguay, a country with only 3.5 million citizens so I was looking for a business school with that small, tight-knit community, which I believe helps create strong bonds between students. I was also looking for a school with strong academics and great placement in investment banking. Darden checked every box, so it was a perfect fit in my case!

2. You recently became the president of LASA. What led you to run for president of this club?

Mostly my friends. I was fortunate to be good friends with my predecessor, so I knew that being LASA’s president would mean a lot of work, but everyone at Darden encouraged me to run. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to consolidate every good tradition that LASA has had for years, while incorporating some new goals, values, and ideas that I, and several actual board members, thought we were missing. Hopefully, we’ll achieve our big goals before graduation, but if we don’t, we hope to leave some solid ground for future generations to build on.

3. What are your hopes for the Latin American Student Association going forward? Any big plans?

Yes! We only do big things at LASA. We are one of the largest clubs at school, with 350+ members, and we want to keep that momentum going. LASA has been known for years for having the best and largest barbecues and parties, and we expect to fully honor that tradition. However, our main goal as a board is to dramatically increase awareness and applications from Latin American prospective students. We firmly believe that Darden is the most “Latin-friendly” business school in the U.S., in part because of what LASA has given to this community for generations. I heard an American alumni from 2010 tell me how great LASA and the Latin American community were. Twelve years ago! Now, we want to double our efforts in raising awareness about this fact, and Darden in general, to every Latin American out there who is thinking about pursuing their MBA. I can guarantee, there’s no better place!

4. What has been your favorite experience here at Darden?

Impossible to pick just one, but anything that involves Darden’s community. Cold calls, TNDCs, Darden Cup, LASA parties/BBQs, other clubs’ parties or events, a friend’s birthday, or simply grilling with my friends at Ivy. Every time some part of this community is doing something I try to join, because I know I’ll have a great time.

5. What advice do you have for future Darden students?

Darden will give back to you multiple times whatever you bring here. If you let it, it will be the best experience of your life, like it has been for many of us here. It’s also hard work, stressful, and challenging at times. A real-life roller-coaster. Simply enjoy the ride!