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Darla Moore School of Business

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First-generation college student earning two master's

Moore School alumna Valentina Giraldo (’20 USC retailing and ’21 Master of International Business) not only got the first college degree in her family, but she is also working to complete her second master’s as part of the Master of International Business Double-Degree program.

Giraldo grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, but she was born in Medellin, Colombia. She received her MIB degree from the Moore School earlier this year and will complete her second Master in Management degree from Grande École ESCP Europe in Paris in spring 2022.

Her decision to attend ESCP-Paris was one she felt best suited her professional and personal ambitions as a woman trying to enter the fashion business.

“I chose to pursue the Double-Degree Master in Management program at ESCP Europe because as a woman in the fashion field, I felt it was crucial to experience educational growth in one of the largest fashion capitals of the world,” Giraldo said. “As a woman in the business industry, where there is very little female representation, I wanted to enforce my knowledge while gaining experience in a new country and learning a new language.”

The prestige of the Moore School and the curriculum the MIB program offered were too good to pass up, she said.

“I chose to attend the Darla Moore School of Business because it is ranked the number one international business school in the nation, and because I knew it would offer me a wide variety of networking opportunities,” she said. “I decided to enroll in the MIB program because my ultimate goal is to open a luxury fashion brand, and I knew that studying international business would help me learn how to manage a global company.”   

While pursuing her MIB degree, Giraldo received graduate certificates in global strategy and business analytics.

“I decided to pursue the graduate certificate in global strategy because I wanted to learn how a company can expand globally,” she said. “I decided to pursue the graduate certificate in business analytics because I felt I lacked proper knowledge in this area and wanted to better my understanding.”

She said gaining these certificates has given her the proper knowledge to incorporate strategies that will expand her career.

During her time in the MIB program, Giraldo said she learned to be more culturally aware than she already was and to also appreciate the skills she already developed.

“The most valuable lesson I learned during my time at the Moore School is to never compare yourself to others because you bring something special to the table that others will not be able to bring,” she said. “Being a first-generation college student, I really doubted myself at first, especially considering that I didn't have as strong of a business background as my peers. But as I went on through the program, my professors and peers encouraged me and showed me that though I didn't have a strong business background, I was able to bring a new perspective that others might not have.”

Giraldo said her academic success has made her parents proud of her. She also acknowledges their life lessons as guiding wisdom while she pursued her degrees.

“As a first-generation college student, it is important to my parents that I take advantage of the opportunities life offers me,” Giraldo said. “My parents taught me to appreciate the education I was able to get in the United States because it's not something that is easily obtained in our country, Colombia.”

In the future, Giraldo said she sees herself running her own company and expanding her business to new regions of the world.

“I see myself as a CEO businesswoman, owning and managing a national fashion company and beginning preparations to expand globally,” she said.

-James Culbertson

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