Student Life

A New Chapter: UVA Dive Team Member Sydney Dusel (McIntire ’20) Prepares for Olympic Trials, Consulting Career

We spoke to Dusel about her exciting accomplishments and what she’s appreciated most about her time at McIntire.

Sydney Dusel

The next few months are sure to be exciting ones for Sydney Dusel.

As for any fourth-year, the warm-up on the approach to the close of the semester signals the end of time as an undergraduate and the start of something new. Something life-changing.

For the Naperville, IL, native, walking the Lawn will mean more than the end of a chapter. It will also herald substantially more than the time most other students will welcome for some much deserved relaxation, because before Dusel starts her position as an Advisory Staff Consultant for Ernst & Young in its Chicago office, she has another grand commitment ahead of her.

Dusel, who concentrated in Marketing and IT with a track in Business Analytics, has long wanted to follow in her successful parents’ footsteps. A dedicated Comm School student who’s made Dean’s list every semester, she’s been studying at Rouss & Robertson Halls; the Charlottesville Special Olympics volunteer is also a record-setting athlete on the UVA diving team.

And, before she can apply her McIntire skills to work, she’ll be preparing for Olympic Trials in mid-June.

We spoke to Dusel about her exciting accomplishments and what she’s appreciated most about her time at McIntire.

Congratulations on qualifying for the Olympic Trials. Can you explain how you’ll be preparing, the important dates, and what it all means for you and fans of U.S. diving?
Thank you! Originally, I was going to retire from diving at the end of March after NCAAs, but now I will be training until June 16, when Olympic Trials take place in Indianapolis. Qualifying for Olympic Trials has been the biggest and most rewarding accomplishment for me so far. Right before NCAAs last year, I had a serious injury from platform practice that resulted in two orbital blowout fractures, a broken sinus bone, and a concussion. This was a big setback for me, but I could not be happier with my recovery and the success I have had this year!

Last year, you tied a UVA record held by your friend Kylie Towbin (McIntire ’19). What are the details?
This was one of my favorite diving memories, as a tie in diving is such a rare occurrence. Being able to tie with one of my closest friends, Kylie Towbin, at her last home meet and have both our names together on the record board reminds me of all the hard work and memories we have made throughout our diving careers at UVA.

What’s been the most challenging thing for you about diving this year?
The hardest part was at the beginning of this season, when I was trying to get back to where I was before I got injured. I knew that it was going to be frustrating and take patience and determination to get back into shape after being out for five months, but I also knew that with my coaches and the right mindset, I could do it.

How about your time at McIntire? What’s been most challenging academically?
Academically, the biggest challenge has been having to miss a lot of class due to traveling to competitions and trying to schedule group meetings. With double practices and 6:30 a.m. workouts, it can be hard to find convenient times to meet with groups. However, I am thankful for how understanding my professors and classmates have been.

What Comm School experiences have been most valuable for you and why?
My first semester in Comm was by far the hardest, but it was my favorite semester. I really enjoyed my professors and classmates from Block 6, my group (Josh Blaustein, Chip Finan, Liam Flaherty, and Tanisha Shah), and working on a project with [ICE corporate sponsor] Margaritaville. The resources we were able to leverage and skills we learned throughout the semester enabled us to create a strategic report and provide business recommendations to Margaritaville executives. My overall experience in Comm has been invaluable in so many ways.

What McIntire professors have had the greatest influence on you?
All my professors have been extremely helpful and supportive throughout my time in McIntire, specifically Professor [Adelaide] King, who was my “Strategy” teacher, and Professor [James] Maxham, who is my “Customer Analytics & Brand Strategy” teacher. Seeing both of them in the stands at my last home meet demonstrated their support to their students outside academics. Other than supporting me in my athletic career, they know how to build relationships outside of the classroom. Professor King makes dinner for her students at her house and reaches out to me to catch up or get lunch. Professor Maxham has taken his students to Crozet to get to know everyone, and later in the semester, he is taking each group out to dinner. These kinds of relationships contribute to the unique learning environment McIntire provides.

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