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Championing Women’s Causes, Sara Prince (UVA ’27) Strengthens McIntire’s Comm Cohort

The Comm Cohort’s guidance, mentorship, and sense of community have provided Prince with a solid foundation as she navigates life at UVA.

Sara Prince

Sara Prince’s journey to UVA has been shaped by many influences and experiences, but her commitment to personal growth and her passion for forming bonds with other women have defined her time on Grounds thus far. As a first-year student in McIntire’s Commerce Cohort program, she brought with her a vision for excellence that highlights her drive to connect and lift up those around her. Now as a second-year, she’s ready to impart some of the knowledge she’s cultivated with high-achieving, high-need students entering the program.

Finding Her Passions

The Alexandria, VA, native’s path to UVA was influenced early on by family ties and a love that she discovered for Charlottesville. Her older sister, Sheeba Prince (A&S ’22), inspired many visits to Grounds that gave her a deep appreciation for the University’s vibrant student community and all the opportunities that it offers.

Like many high school students, Prince came to UVA unsure about her career aspirations, despite a burgeoning interest in business spurred by a great teacher and a pair of semesterlong business classes in her junior year; that curiosity was stoked by classes in Entrepreneurship and AP Economics during her senior year.

But as influential as those courses were for Prince, her high school experience was marked with the difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic—and the avenues she took to ensure her own significant personal growth during that trying era. Attending school virtually during her freshman and sophomore years forced her to develop patience and introspection. Despite the isolation, she emerged with a clearer sense of self and a determination to make meaningful contributions in the lives of others.

“It was definitely hard finding people in such a big school,” she recalls. “I didn’t have a lot of strong connections. Once COVID happened, everything went online, and it was pretty much impossible to meet new people as a freshman.”

Prince says that one thing the lengthy stretch learning online gave her was the flexibility to think about what she wanted to do—especially when her school resumed in-person instruction.

When it came to finding her interests through extracurriculars, she discovered that she had a passion for activism, women’s rights, and feminism. After realizing the impact of multiple in-depth conversations on those subjects that Prince was having with a class friend on Zoom, the two explored how they could share that positivity.

“We wondered how we could deliver this to other people,” she says. “Because if we enjoyed this conversation so much, how could we also provide that for other girls? So we founded a club, because I really wanted to connect with my peers and talk about the issues that we as women faced in the world, in the professional world, or in our own lives as high schoolers.”

Women of the Future, a club dedicated to fostering interactions focused on women’s issues and empowerment, organized discussions, invited guest speakers, and mentored younger students, creating a supportive environment where young women could share their experiences and insights.

“That was one of the greatest experiences: being able to talk and lead these meaningful discussions where people were willing to share their opinions,” she says. “We were all able to learn from each other.”

A standout memory for her was the group hosting a guest speaker, a lawyer who emphasized the importance of confidence, a lesson that continues to motivate her today.

Sharing Support in the Cohort

A self-described introvert, Prince says that she feels as if her confidence is a continual work in progress. But her strides have helped her in many aspects of her time at UVA, supporting everything from giving a presentation, speaking up in class, and meeting new people.

Yet she’s had more reasons for developing a confident outlook. She’s taken what she learned from mentoring younger high school girls through Women of the Future to working through Madison House and its GEMS (Girls Excited about Math and Science) program to teach girls STEM-related subjects and continuing her advocacy for women’s empowerment and education, a cause she deeply values. Another support system has presented itself through the Commerce Cohort.

The Cohort has proven to be a transformative experience for Prince. Initially skeptical of the program’s legitimacy due to her suspicion about her emailed invitation to join, she quickly realized its immense value.

“It sounded interesting, and it seemed like a good opportunity,” Prince says, noting that as it was only one credit, being part of the Cohort was easy to slot into her schedule.

Was it worth it?

“Best decision I’ve ever made,” she says emphatically. “Because I’ve heard of people who ignored the email [invitation]. If I did that and then went and saw what we were doing in the Cohort, I would be very jealous—100%.”

Clearly, the Cohort’s guidance, mentorship, and sense of community have provided her with a solid foundation as she navigates the challenges of University life. The process required her to find her footing and build new connections. “Finding my people” remains an ongoing journey for Prince, but her efforts are yielding rewarding friendships and enriching experiences.

“It’s been such an amazing experience,” she says. “I feel so blessed to be part of something like this, because coming to the University and having that guidance was not something I expected to have.”

Prince points to the program’s retreat as a pivotal moment, allowing her to forge deep connections with fellow Cohort students through its environment of mutual support rather than competition. “We talked for hours and hours. I remember we were all sitting around a bonfire, just getting to know each other on a deeper level. I got to meet so many great people, and from there, I felt more confident to be able to talk to others in the program,” she says. “It honestly feels like a family because everyone is so comfortable with and very encouraging of each other.”

In turn, she says that her own mentor provided through the Comm Cohort program has been an invaluable resource for her during her first year, as well as mentorship given by older students helping her stay on track with her academic goals. Now as a second-year, Prince will share what she’s learned with the next group of first-years in the Comm Cohort program.

Outside of her academic pursuits and working on her confidence, Prince finds solace in playing the guitar, which she uses as a stress reliever and a way to recharge for whatever comes next. From a young age, Prince’s dedication to mastering the guitar—following years of piano lessons—has been a testament to her perseverance and love for music, particularly Taylor Swift. Now it serves as a momentary respite from the demands of academics and a way to create a calm environment for her and her roommate.

As Prince continues the next stage of her life at UVA, she exemplifies the qualities of a dedicated and introspective student who’s poised to make a significant impact as she pursues her personal and academic growth.

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