Abby Cebula (A&S ’25) Forges Her Own Business Career Path

Cebula's journey through the Comm School showcases her adaptability, creativity, and commitment to self-growth, positioning her to apply her UVA education fully in shaping the future she sees for herself.

Abby Cebula

You get the distinct impression that Abby Cebula is the kind of person who knows what she wants and also what she doesn’t.

Originally from Massachusetts, Cebula decided early on that she didn’t want to go to college in the Northeast and then made sure that she didn’t. She also knew she wanted a future in business. The UVA third-year initially hoped to major in Commerce, but ultimately landed in Media Studies with a Psychology Minor at the College of Arts & Sciences—and is also pursuing the General Business Minor at McIntire.

She has a pretty clear idea about how she wants to spend her time after she leaves Grounds.

“My mom works in business, and she was definitely a role model to me, especially all the success that she’s had in her career. I always thought I would be just like my mom,” she says.

She was also influenced by hearing the issues that her father, a now-retired engineer for speaker giant Bose, faced when trying to correct communication-based problems with manufacturing facilities he traveled to in Asia and Mexico.

“Since I was a little kid, I always said that I wanted to run my own factory,” she remembers. “I was always exposed to hearing about factory work,” she says, recalling her father’s hourslong conversations with China. “Being exposed to that and literally hearing firsthand experiences with it is what sort of got me passionate about it.”

But Cebula doesn’t have designs on manufacturing these days. She intends to work in sports or product management. And through her courses of study, she is forging her own path by finding business-related roles and coursework as a student “to set me up with a well-rounded profile to be able to apply to jobs in the business field,” she says.

Leading and Collaborating

A cheerleader for the University’s football and basketball teams, Cebula found that her interest in sports grew after an internship with the Charlottesville Tom Sox summer baseball league, where the baseball fan fell in love with sports marketing.

“I really liked how every day wasn’t the same. I liked adapting,” she says about finding joy in the dynamic challenges of the role. “There were things you would never think of.” One example? She had to stay on her toes to problem-solve quickly when one of the team’s players forgot his pants before a game; a last-minute search through the team’s equipment trailer yielded an old pair from a prior season.

In addition to sorting out issues on the fly, she also greatly enjoyed overseeing the organization’s social media.

“It was fun for me. I was impacting the lives of the players, the fans, and my coworkers,” she says, explaining that her love of baseball was supported by the day-to-day interactions and the many diverse collaboration experiences.

Though she’s been a cheerleader since high school, she has no interest in a career where she’d find herself the center of attention. Rather, the Tom Sox internship revealed to her a lot about her leadership style, a self-taught lesson that she’s hoping to capitalize on in the future: “I know how to be an effective leader while being a productive teammate.”

She also greatly values creative freedom and practical application, two concepts that she has been able to pursue in her Media Studies classes and in McIntire’s General Business Minor. Citing her love of reading (as evident by her voracious book consumption—she blazed through each 600-plus-page volume of the entire Court of Thorn and Roses series in two weeks) and writing research papers, she says they allow her to express herself.

“I really like that kind of like creative freedom,” she says, mentioning a project about toy company LEGO she’s working on for the General Business Minor course, Digital Skills for the Workplace. “I was never a big math person. I don’t care about solving for x in this equation. I care about doing things that I feel actually make a difference.”

Plenty of Perks

Being able to gain hands-on experience while acquiring valuable learning has made the General Business Minor a worthwhile avenue for Cebula.

“It’s just very practical, which I appreciate,” she says, noting that in learning about the ways in which she is engaging with the material has been productive and allowed her to further advance her project and product management skills.

“What I also like is that there isn’t one universal right answer,” she says. “A lot of [what we learn] is open-ended: What do I think is important? I really enjoy that aspect of it.”

Additionally, Cebula says faculty have been both accessible and helpful in ways she didn’t expect.

“It’s so easy to just ask, ‘Can I talk to you after class? Can you spend 15 minutes explaining this problem to me?’ I found faculty so approachable. It was helpful to be able to ask questions and just utilize the opportunity to meet with professors,” she says mentioning the care exhibited by Professors Mark White and David Schuff.

Cebula emphasizes that students considering the program should manage expectations about their weaknesses, seek help when needed, and be proactive in planning to overcome their particular challenges.

“I’m just very grateful that the General Business Minor was started because it gave me an opportunity to study business without necessarily being in McIntire,” she says.

As her journey to the Comm School reveals her adaptability, passion for creativity, and commitment to growth on her own terms, she is poised to apply each aspect of her UVA education to build the future she sees for herself.

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