Elaine Chun (McIntire '20)

Hometown: Centreville, VA

Why McIntire: I chose McIntire because the School’s emphasis and value it places on a strong liberal arts background appealed strongly to me. I want to look at business from a cultural standpoint and understand its impact on individuals. Business is everywhere, and I believe that being at McIntire will provide me with opportunities to cultivate an interdisciplinary perspective so that I can better understand how and why business decisions are made. During my first two years at UVA, I witnessed many McIntire students utilize and combine both their McIntire education and their unique interests to make a very special impact in their local communities, which extend beyond the walls of Rouss & Robertson Halls. I feel confident that McIntire will allow me to engage my creativity in a tangible and business-minded way.

Hopes for the McIntire community: My hope for the McIntire community is for students and faculty members to not only recognize the importance of diversity in numbers and representation, but also to understand that inclusion is equally important, if not more important. The truth is, diversity alone doesn't automate a highly functioning, collaborative team. Unless it coexists with inclusion, diversity itself cannot guarantee stellar group performance, innovation, or high team member satisfaction. Even though “diversity” and “inclusion” are often used interchangeably and considered synonymous, there is an indisputable distinction between the two ideas. Many years ago, I heard a quote by a diversity advocate named Verna Myers, whose words have stuck with me: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” I hope that through ODEI programming efforts, the office can actively advise and encourage students to take actionable, intentional steps toward practicing inclusion both inside and outside of the workplace.

Why diversity and inclusion are important: If there is one thing that I’m sure about, it is that I have always been a pretty unsure person. For a long time, I never had a set career path or a clear vision for my future. My indecisiveness used to be one of my least favorite things about myself. However, it is my indecision that has shaped me to become a more open-minded individual, eager to take on new, unfamiliar projects and work with many different people. 

It is my open-mindedness that has led me to take part in various cultural experiences and to work with many individuals whose ideas and values differ completely from my own. Through these encounters and interactions, I have become confident in the idea that business should be run on the belief that inclusion— beyond simply being the right thing to do—is a bridge. A way to connect diverse perspectives, explore new possibilities, and spark new ideas. Prioritizing a focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace allows for the fostering of receptive team environments. Through the active exchange of ideas, team members become more advanced problem solvers: They are challenged to adjust their own conclusions and take someone else’s into consideration before creating final verdicts for various projects. 

By investing in my relationships with people, I’ve had the opportunity to learn immensely from various individuals. My open-mindedness and my appreciation for diversity and inclusion have consistently reinforced the idea that there is always something new to learn from each individual I encounter. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you will take part in such an eye-opening learning experience.

What we can learn from ODEI: I think one thing that students should learn from ODEI is that the McIntire faculty is committed to fostering an inclusive community of scholars who celebrate people of various beliefs and backgrounds. For example, McIntire offers a support network for students through the McIntire Ally Program. This identifiable support group of faculty and staff members at the Commerce School boasts support for diversity that is more than just one-dimensional. Through the program, students have the opportunity to build relationships with their professors, and as a result, gain an appreciation for diversity in age and diversity in intellectual and ideological thought. I hope that ODEI can challenge students to expand their knowledge and appreciation for different dimensions of diversity—and ultimately take responsibility in demonstrating respect in the workplace once they graduate McIntire.

Fun fact about yourself: The pearl earring on my left ear is a different size from the one on my right ear. In the past two years that I have worn them, only one person has noticed!

Hobbies: Listening to podcasts, playing card/board games, photography, tennis, journaling