Call Me a Cavalier


Top (left to right) – With a co-worker on the Lawn after touring the Rotunda and Academical Village. / Headshot for Darden Bloggers in Flagler Court. / Cavman at Alumni Hall during Homecoming. Bottom (left to right) – At a Darden Student Association tailgate. / First game at Scott Stadium.

We’re already half-way through the first year of B-school and the first round of Darden applicants for next school year get notified of admissions decisions today: It’s the perfect time to reflect and pass on some wisdom…

As the wife of a Darden student and an employee of the University, I have fully embraced my new identity as a Cavalier. (Although, let’s make it clear: I will never forget my Spartan roots from Michigan State University. Go Green!) While Michal was doing case interview prep for consulting jobs this month, I have worked on transitioning from my time in secondary education as an English and journalism teacher to working in the communication field within higher education.

My journey originally began with temp’ing in the University of Virginia’s central HR office when I first arrived in Charlottesville in August and will continue with a contract position in writing and editing online content for the Women’s Center website starting in January until the end of our time here. (By the way, if had I begun the job search in earnest before I moved here, my career transition would have most likely been quicker, but I was too busy traveling!) Although Michal and I have a lot on our minds regarding next-steps in our respective careers, we have managed to take the time to get to know more about our current culture and community at UVA, as seen in the above photos.

Parts of our experience here really remind us of our times together when we first met in undergrad at MSU. To the recently admitted Darden students and partners: Welcome to the next stage of your life. Michal and I are so grateful to be here, and we can’t wait to meet all of you!

Some of the UVA / Darden lingo and traditions I’ve discovered –

For a more comprehensive list, check out this link:

  • Get the grade right: Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the University, didn’t use the terms freshman, sophomore, junior and senior to describe students because he believed in life-long learning. Therefore, students are First Years (FYs), Second Years (SYs) and so on.
  • Hit the ground running: Jefferson didn’t call UVA a “campus” but instead “Grounds.” When Darden students interview for jobs, they often talk about them happening either “on or off Grounds.”
  • Multiple mascots: Although the official mascot is the Cavalier, the Wahoo is an accepted alternative. Shortened forms of both, such as the Cavs and the Hoos, are common too.
  • Guys in ties and girls in pearls: Coming from the Midwest, I wasn’t used to this Southern tradition. Many of the undergrad students dress up for football games, as well as Darden students who are also recruiting at the sponsored tailgates. Mostly everyone else, like alumni, wear the usual jeans and T-shirt.
  • Partner up: Significant others (boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses) of Darden students are known as “partners.” The official organization, which provides resources and events to partners and families of students, is the Darden Partners Association (DPA).
  • Bird is the word: Darden FY students are organized by section (A through E) for their classes, and my husband and I are proud to be a part of Section B! Our section mascot is a small stuffed animal, Big Bird. Each week, the section votes on which student had the most “interesting” comment in class discussion, and the winner must take the bird wherever he or she goes the following week.
  • Game on: The Darden Cup events are much like Quidditch matches in the Harry Potter series. In a school year-long competition between sections, students and partners compete in varied activities from traditional sports like softball and soccer to games like poker and trivia as they pursue the coveted Darden cup trophy. (Section B won last year!)
  • Study session: Learning Teams (LTs) are small groups made up of students from different sections. They meet every night to discuss cases from class. While Michal is at LT, I’ve run into him a lot at Darden because of my involvement with organizations like the Darden Bloggers, the Cold Call Chronicle (Darden’s student newspaper) and, of course, the DPA.
  • Watch out for the Cold Call: The dreaded “cold call” in class is when professors call on students to speak without warning. The phrase is commonly used in other contexts like in the names of organizations (e.g. Cold Call Chronicle, Cold Call Chorus) or as the title of get-togethers for food and drinks on Thursdays after class in Darden’s Flagler Court or PepsiCo Forum.

Any questions or concerns, especially regarding life as a Darden partner? Want to share your excitement? Feel free to comment here. 


2 thoughts on “Call Me a Cavalier

  1. Pingback: Bidding farewell to the ‘Bird’ | A Partner's Perspective on Darden

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