Nancy Huai is a first year MBA student at Darden School of Business from China. During the pandemic with the embassy closures, she was unable to get a visa from China to come to Charlottesville.
She spent her Fall semester in four different countries trying to make her way to Charlottesville. She made it to Grounds just in time to start her Spring semester. Here’s her story:
Tell us about yourself?
Huai: I grew up in a village in Xinjiang, China. I studied near Beijing and moved to Shanghai and Hangzhou for work. While working as an M&A analyst and project manager at multinational companies, I realized I wanted to learn about a different culture and study business in the US.
After a two-year-long application process, I finally received MBA offers from three schools. I value the Darden School of Business case study experience and supportive community, so I chose Darden over the other schools.
How was your Fall semester? What support did you get from UVA?
Huai: Chaos is an understatement to describe my Fall semester. To be able to come to Charlottesvile, I tried to apply for student visa from three different countries. I spent most of my fall semester in Cambodia. Life in Cambodia was not easy. I moved around trying to find good accommodations. At the same time, I was adjusting to 12-hour time difference for my classes and the frustration and uncertainty after my visa was rejected and my student loan was canceled.
I was lonely, away from home and my cohort of students and I had to keep my spirits up. The fear of getting infected during international travel was also on my mind.
But, I've received so much help along the way. Larry Muller, Assistant Dean of Global Advising supported my visa application. Susan Loduha, Director of Financial Aid, worked late to help me with the student loan details, once working till just hours before my visa interview.
I had several meetings with Richard Tanson, who helped me patiently with my visa documents. When I was in Ecuador, I told him that I would cry my eyes out if I failed again in my third attempt, but he was always optimistic.
The support from the UVA community helped me overcome the darkest time.
Why was it important to you to come to Grounds for your education?
Huai: Getting the best education abroad is my lifetime dream, and I cherish the hard-earned opportunity to attend the Darden program. I wanted to be physically in the US to attend in-person classes, better connect with classmates, explore the beautiful landscape in Charlottesville, and learn more about the US culture. I was determined to overcome all the adversities to arrive in Charlottesville as soon as possible.
Are you on Grounds now? What precautions are you taking?
Huai: All my efforts to make my way to Grounds was worthwhile. I am thrilled to see my lovely classmates, learning team, and professors in person and participate in all the activities.
During Asia Week earlier this month, I hosted a dumpling workshop with my classmate to celebrate the Chinese Spring Festival. I am also proud of contributing to my section by winning the bracket during Darden Table Tennis Cup.
But, I also worry about Covid. I appreciate that we have a weekly prevalence testing to help slow down the virus spread. My mask is always on. Outdoor clothes are kept in the living room. My hands and cellphone are sanitized every time I come back home. We cannot be too careful.