March 30, 2022 • By Brian Nguyen
Darlene Do Business Administration ’22 grew up surrounded by inspiring figures and diverse cultures, allowing her to focus on her own personal growth. When it was time to apply to college, she decided to study business administration—recognizing that she enjoyed working on teams and cultivating new projects. The UCI Paul Merage School of Business became an obvious choice for her because it was “highly ranked for business and it was close to home.”
As a commuter student, Do wanted to try her best to stay involved despite the inherent difficulties that came with living away from campus. She spread her net far and wide, working at Mesa Court Student Housing the Student Parent Orientation Program and joining clubs sucha as the Anteater Mentorship Program (AMP) and Women in Leadership. As a first-generation college student, she had to gain her parents’ trust in her ability to balance her extracurriculars, coursework and family responsibilities. Although it took time and understanding, she has been able to gain their support and stay true to her values.
Do’s experience at UCI and the Merage School eventually led to some self-doubt. She saw that so many others seemed like they were far ahead in their life stories compared to her. Do said: “There were some people already on their chapter five whereas I felt like I was still on my chapter one. To me, they seemed steps ahead, and I was playing catch-up.”
Despite these feelings of impostor syndrome, Do learned through her experience in her Asian American Studies minor that not everybody comes from the same backgrounds with the same resources. Even in the Asian American community, where the myth of the “model minority” makes it seem like everybody is successful, there are many different people that come from different socioeconomic classes and different walks of life.
Do said: “I realized that I don’t have to compare myself in this way. I don’t have to feel like I’m constantly playing catch-up because I’m on my journey and they’re on their own. As long as I feel satisfied with what I’m doing at my own pace, then what chapter I’m on shouldn't really matter. We may not be writing the same book.”
Now that Do is graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she has amassed an impressive collection of experiences. Do connected a little bit of her experience as an Asian American woman in each of these roles, from AMP to Women in Leadership.
Do is turning the page on a new chapter in her story. With a full-time offer from the Walmart corporate office in Arkansas, she is leaving home to set up shop 1798 miles away from many of her family and friends. She said: “It is scary. It is definitely scary, but I think it’s more exciting for me because I’ve always been one to step outside my comfort zone.”
One of the main reasons that Do accepted the offer from Walmart was the fact that their DEI initiatives have been so strong. Much of her club experience so far has been aimed toward mentoring others in an intersectional way, so Walmart’s similar aims rang true with her. Although she will have to make new friends and form new connections in her new living situation, Do is more than ready.
Big Sister Energy
Many of Do’s current connections have come from marginalized backgrounds. She said: “Sometimes people need that voice outside of themselves to reaffirm their worth or to convince them that they’re worthy enough for more.”
“I want to have this sort of big sister energy. I want to make sure everybody has a figurative big sister because sometimes it takes that one person on the outside to believe in you for you to take the courage to make big steps in your career.”
In her role as president of Women in Leadership, Do has made many meaningful relationships and is ready to make many more in Arkansas. She has done much guidance for others but is also ready to learn from all her new colleagues at Walmart.
Do reflected on her time at UCI and in Women in Leadership, saying: “All of my board members have made me so proud and so impressed because I was able to be there for every step of their journey and appreciate the growth that they achieved along the way.”