Undergraduate Blog

Skyla Bailey (McIntire ’24) Blends Passions with Purpose

During her journey at UVA, Bailey has learned the importance of pursuing one's passions and the impact one can have through dedicated effort and engagement.

Skyla Bailey

At the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, fourth-year Skyla Bailey’s experience stands as a notable example of how students can blend athleticism, arts, and advocacy into their academic and personal development. Originally from Yorktown, VA, Bailey demonstrates a commitment to diverse interests in her journey to UVA, balancing the demands of a rigorous academic program with significant extracurricular engagement.

Early Influences and Commitment to Advocacy

Growing up in Virginia provided Bailey, an only child, with a varied set of interests, from participating in field hockey, tennis, and flying airplanes to engaging in acting and theater.

However, it was her advocacy work, particularly her involvement with gun violence prevention initiatives, and specifically, the racial inequity of those initiatives, that marked a significant part of her high school years. As the Outreach Director for her high school’s chapter of March for Our Lives, Bailey recalls the impact of national conversations around gun violence, which motivated her to contribute meaningfully to this cause, reflecting a deep-seated desire to effect change in her community.

“I became involved after the Parkland shooting happened. My little cousin was 7 years old at the time, and she shared with me that she was scared to go to school. That made me determined to ensure something like this wouldn’t happen again. I didn’t ever want her to feel like she couldn’t walk around in her little Sketchers and feel safe at school,” she shares.

Bailey has also continued to advocate for gun control through a Virginia lobbying collective associated with the Brady Campaign. “We go to Congress every month and to the Capitol to talk with legislators about our cause, including the unintended racial lenses that intersect with gun violence prevention,” she explains.

“After two years of lobbying on Capitol Hill, I decided to take a break, but I would like to go back into this field at some point because it’s just such an important topic,” she says.

Representation in Performing Arts

Bailey’s advocacy work also extended to opportunities around increasing representation in the area of performing arts. Theater had a large influence on her high school experience, and when she wasn’t acting, she was filling behind-the-scenes roles like stage manager for the theater department’s performances.

But as an avid consumer of film and live theater, Bailey noticed that professional productions often lacked diversity among the cast. Out of this realization came a passion for discovering or even creating opportunities for more representation in the arts.

“The Broadway show ‘Hamilton’ had a large influence on me because of the cast’s diverse representation,” she says.

Bailey hopes to explore further ways to influence the casting process at some point in her career by segueing into film after building her resume and honing her professional skill set. “I want to stand true to advocating for diversity in the entertainment industry,” she says. “I’m very passionate about the craft. But advocacy is also so much about resilience. I think it’s so important to build resilience and understand what my power and abilities are.”

Academic and Extracurricular Engagement at McIntire

Bailey chose UVA for both practical and personal reasons. Initially attracted by a scholarship offer, her experience at the University broadened her perspectives and challenged her assumptions. At UVA, Bailey found an intellectually diverse and supportive community, offering her opportunities to grow beyond what she had imagined. This environment allowed her to explore new areas of interest and engage with a wide range of thoughts and ideas.

“Hearing so many different ideas while at UVA has been extraordinary,” she says. “It’s challenged me to think differently and have a healthy dialogue about a range of topics. It’s allowed me to flourish.”

As a Comm student at McIntire, Bailey’s academic pursuits have been characterized by an exploration beyond the traditional scope of business education. Through her leadership as Co-President of Black Commerce Student Network, Bailey has worked to showcase the diversity of career paths available within commerce. She emphasizes the importance of demonstrating to students, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, the broad range of possibilities that a commerce education can offer. Bailey notes, “My mission has been to showcase that commerce encompasses much more than finance or accounting. It’s also about marketing, strategy, and making an impact.”

Additionally, Bailey serves as Chair of the Black College Women organization, which unites a sisterhood of UVA students across Grounds. “We host guest speakers and, overall, just talk about how we’re feeling. It’s been my little baby for the last three years,” she says.

Blending Passions with Professional Paths

As Bailey approaches graduation, she reflects on her time at UVA with a sense of accomplishment and anticipation for the future. With plans to join Deloitte’s team in Rosslyn, VA, she looks forward to applying her skills in a role that aligns with her interests in marketing and public service. Bailey’s time at the University has been marked by learning, growth, and the development of a strong sense of purpose. “My journey at UVA has been incredibly rewarding,” she says. “I’ve learned the importance of pursuing one’s passions and the impact one can have through dedicated effort and engagement.”

Bailey’s story is a testament to the multifaceted nature of student life at UVA, highlighting how students can successfully integrate their passions with their academic endeavors. Her experience underscores the importance of embracing diverse interests, advocating for meaningful causes, and preparing for a future that bridges personal aspirations with professional opportunities. As Bailey moves forward, her story remains an inspiring example for current and prospective students at McIntire and across Grounds.

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