Chesapeake, VA, native Danielle Romeo will miss the tight-knit group she’s been a part of at McIntire, but she’s eager to jump into the next stage of her life. She’ll be moving to Washington, D.C., to take on the role of Strategy Analyst at Accenture, having interned for two summers in the firm’s Consulting Development Program.
Her future is the result of dedication and hard work, but the path that Romeo has taken actually started as the result of an impulsive choice.
“I came to UVA planning to be a Math major, but I took COMM 1800, Foundations of Commerce, on a whim during my first semester,” she says. The introductory class was nothing short of a revelation to her. “I quickly found that I really enjoy business—particularly, collaborating with a strong team to solve complex problems that have the potential to build businesses for societal good.”
As she began to further explore everything that the Commerce School had to offer, she was inspired by the many avenues available for her to make a positive impact through business education. She also immediately felt that McIntire’s ability to evolve along with the rapidly changing world of business was an invaluable aspect of what she was learning. “This was clear from my first exposure to Comm during my first year, and it is even more clear as I approach graduation,” the IT and Management concentrator says.
Another unexpected outcome she found came as a result of the Integrated Core—not only from the innovative and immersive coursework, but the way in which it brought her closer together with the members of her block.
“In the midst of COVID, we held a shared uncertainty of what our experience in McIntire would look like during a global pandemic, but we were in for some great memories. As we worked together that semester, we met almost daily on Zoom to discuss cases and group projects, but these conversations quickly turned into great relationships, and our friendships blossomed,” she recalls. “I never expected to make such great friends being over two years into my time at UVA, but I am so grateful that McIntire brought us together, even under such unique circumstances,” she says, noting how excited she is to walk the Lawn with them this spring.
In addition to completing a track in Entrepreneurship for her degree, Romeo’s been heavily involved with the local Charlottesville community, working as Head Program Director for the Latinx and Migrant Aid program at Madison House. Earlier in her time on Grounds, she also served as the Co-Chair for the Women’s Leadership Development Program at UVA.
For Romeo, leaving the University will be bittersweet, yet in addition to the promise of “exploring a new city and meeting new people all over again,” she’s ensuring her strong friendships continue: “I’m also looking forward to traveling more in my time before starting work and visiting my UVA friends in their new cities. I can’t wait to see how we all continue to grow in life after college,” she says.
But before she says goodbye to McIntire, we spoke with Romeo to learn how the Commerce School has influenced her professionally and personally.
What McIntire professor made the greatest impact on you?
During the fall of my fourth year, I had the opportunity to explore some of the exciting elective courses at McIntire.
One of my first classes back in person in Rouss & Robertson Halls was Advanced Business Speaking with Professor Marcia Pentz. This course turned out to be one of my most favorite classes that I have ever taken at UVA. It taught me invaluable lessons that I will take with me in my career and beyond.
Public speaking is something that was previously very nerve-wracking for me, but working with Professor Pentz and my peers in this class gave me the skills and knowledge to accelerate my growth. Even more than the tangible skills we learned, Professor Pentz taught us to find confidence in our styles and stories that make us unique. From singing in class to practicing improv, this class routinely challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone. Professor Pentz was able to create such a safe environment in our classroom that pushed us to take risks together and to find confidence in our abilities.
This class left me with some of my favorite memories at McIntire, and I will be forever grateful to Professor Pentz for her authenticity and support.
What’s one lesson you’ve learned at the Comm School that has helped you navigate your professional future?
The greatest lesson I will take with me from McIntire is to never count myself out of any opportunity.
I was somewhat intimidated to enter McIntire without much previous business experience or knowledge, but I jumped in with confidence, drive, and excitement to learn. My peers, professors, and advisers have encouraged me to keep growing this mindset throughout my time here.
In my final semester at McIntire, this mindset has helped me to challenge myself in my Entrepreneurship Capstone. Along with my Capstone team, we have created a community for women in cryptocurrency called Crypta. I first identified an issue in this space when I spent much of my winter break learning about cryptocurrency. I was disappointed to learn that only 7% of women invest in crypto, compared with 14% of men.
We built a Facebook community group to encourage women to learn about cryptocurrency together. With a beginner focus, we prioritize supporting women of all knowledge levels to take risks and learn about the future of technology and financial freedom. We hosted our first in-person community event on April 7 at Forge, and McIntire Professor Robert Parham presented to our group. We discussed the evolution of blockchain and cryptocurrency, and had an extensive Q&A session. On April 29, we had a second event on Zoom with a panel of three female leaders in cryptocurrency.
As a woman, it is not always easy to dive into male-dominated communities, but the confidence and skills that I have built during my time at McIntire have undoubtedly supported me as I explore a future in entrepreneurship.