Kendall Roche, a Finance and Management concentrator minoring in Spanish, says she’s been very lucky. The Darien, CT, native chalks her good fortune up to the peer partners she’s had and the friends she’s made at McIntire.
While a little luck may have had something to do with the people she crossed paths with during the last two years, there’s no doubt that her dedicated efforts at the Commerce School have served to bring her closer to others who have shared her vision for the power of education and community building at McIntire.
As acting Treasurer for the Commerce Council and President of One Love, a UVA organization that educates students about harmful relationships, Roche has helped promote impactful experiences for students at McIntire and throughout the University alike.
Roche says that she first joined One Love because of a close connection. “My cousin was Yeardley Love’s friend and roommate, but I became more involved and dedicated because of how important the mission is,” she says.
Created in 2010 after UVA fourth-year Yeardley Love was killed by her ex-boyfriend only days before graduation, One Love has provided Roche with the opportunity to promote meaningful change by instructing students about an often-ignored but prevalent issue. “We run workshops with different student orgs and teams on Grounds where we educate our peers on the warning signs of dangerous relationships and the signs of healthy ones,” she says, noting that she’s also collaborated with the University’s Student Health Office of Health Promotion to initiate long-term One Love programming for all student-athletes slated to start in the next year. “We also table on Grounds for awareness and run fundraisers to support the national organization,” Roche explains.
She’s also enjoyed serving as Comm Council Treasurer, “especially as a Finance concentrator,” but found that the most rewarding aspect about her work with the Council has come from the chance to work with people she considers great partners, including President Ralph De Palma (McIntire ’22), whom she calls “a great leader and friend.”
Additionally, Roche says it’s been gratifying for her to have a firsthand role in strengthening the McIntire student experience through the Council’s events and programming. “One event that was special for me was our Valentine’s Day candygrams because Comm Council donated the proceeds to the One Love Foundation. It was great to be able to add to our community in a way that also supported an amazing cause.”
Meeting Challenging Times
Comm Council faced an unfamiliar landscape when the school year began, and Roche admits they had to quickly get up to speed to meet the challenges arising from the pandemic.
“We hadn’t experienced a ‘normal’ year in McIntire, which made it difficult to know what we could do to best serve our community.” But the group worked it out and fulfilled its responsibilities to the students it represents. “I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do and how we’ve helped prepare the incoming Comm Council for next year.”
The pandemic also shaped Roche’s internship, as she spent time at Pfizer as a Financial Planning Analyst.
“It was exciting to be able to work in the vaccines division at Pfizer during this current climate. All of their life-saving vaccines were interesting, but the Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine was especially exciting work,” she says, explaining how focusing on the pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation’s operating plans for the next few years was an entirely novel process due to the dynamic nature of the coronavirus situation and the lack of historical data available.
Clicking with Commerce
As the pandemic forced some necessary retooling of plans, Roche discovered that her academic journey at UVA diverged from her original intentions.
“I was a Biology major and had never really considered anything else. It wasn’t until my mom pointed out how I would talk incessantly about the strategies of the small business I was working for that I began to appreciate my profound interest in business,” she says, recalling an epiphany about her education. “What I thought I wanted and what I was truly interested in were not the same.”
At that point, she became curious about McIntire, and found that her interest grew as she learned more about its collaborative education style and tight-knit community. She decided to apply. “I have always loved working closely with my peers and professors and being able to have in-class dialogue about the materials, and that’s what I knew I could find at McIntire.”
Roche believes that being able to work with corporate sponsor AB InBev on a real-world project for the Integrated Core had the greatest impact on her. “My block had to decide the best route to take with a new product. We put in so much work coming up with our idea and then providing the evidence and analysis to support it, which made presenting it to the actual executives even more rewarding,” she says.
The McIntire experience has given her more confidence in her skills and her ability to analyze, grounding her work in evidence.
“All our presentations, Q&A sessions, and cold-calling in ICE Finance instilled in me the power in supporting your work. During the spring semester Public Speaking and Persuasion with Professor Robert Patterson, and this course has helped me not only be confident in what I am saying, but has also taught me how to convince an audience to hold that same confidence in me,” she says. “Not only have I become much more comfortable speaking in front of people, but I’ve also improved upon my speech structure and delivery. This is a lifelong skill that I will use not only in my career but in other aspects of my life as well.”
Grateful, Prepared, and Jubilant
As Roche completes her time as an undergraduate and prepares to begin her professional life in earnest, she says that some of her most cherished memories took place during late-night work sessions in Rouss & Robertson Halls for group projects, saying that camaraderie occurs quite easily “after working on a slide deck until 2 a.m. over some takeout food.”
She says that those teammates she learned with have been instrumental in making her late-night collaboration sessions special. “I was very lucky with my groups for ICE third year, and even met my roommate Kate Milby (McIntire ’22) in my first-semester group. I’m so grateful for McIntire for bringing these friendships into my life, and I can’t wait to see what incredible things my peers go on to do in their careers.”
Another standout memory she’s sure will stay with her after walking the Lawn may be a bit less heartwarming, but no less enduring: “getting pied in the face by my professors during a Comm Council fundraiser for Madison House.”
But before she moves to New York, where she’ll be joining EY as a Financial Services Business Consultant, Roche is understandably looking forward to celebrating with her friends and family.
“Being able to share my Charlottesville experience with my family is always so exciting—and I’m hoping my parents will bring down my dogs, Reilly and Georgia, for the festivities!”