Every Hoo Has a Story: Family Affair

May 17, 2023 By Mike Mather, mike.mather@virginia.edu Mike Mather, mike.mather@virginia.edu

Elizabeth Muller’s father knew she belonged at the University of Virginia, and it wasn’t a choice pulled from a stack of college pamphlets. Chris Muller is a Darden School of Business alumnus.

“I was lucky enough, growing up, to be able to come and visit here almost every year,” Elizabeth said. “UVA was the dream, and the academics are just so amazing.”

Related Story

So naturally when it was time to apply, Elizabeth picked … some other college.

“It had to do with confidence,” Elizabeth said. “You know, it was a bit intimidating.”

It turns out that while Chris Muller had full faith in his daughter’s abilities, Elizabeth didn’t share her dad’s conviction.

But then came a pandemic. While Elizabeth Muller was stuck at home in Farmington, Connecticut, taking classes from another college online, her dad realized he had more time to exert some gentle, fatherly prodding toward a transfer.

“During COVID, my dad was like, ‘I really, truly think with the GPA you have, and how determined you are, and just who you are as a person, I think you could go to UVA and have that experience you’ve always wanted,’” she recalled.

So, she took a chance.

Elizabeth Muller is one of several fourth-year students UVA Today met on the Lawn last month. As part of a project modeled after the CBS News series, “Everybody Has a Story,” we coaxed random graduating students to sit for short, impromptu interviews. We likewise reasoned that “Every Hoo Has a Story,” and we were right.

We heard from Hoos who shared deeply personal stories of struggles with mental health, how some overcame a surprise diagnosis and we learned about one student’s secret alter ego.

Erica Szymanski, graduating from the McIntire School of Commerce, can relate to the pressure of family connections. Both her parents are UVA graduates.

But growing up in the same Maryland town as her mom, and with her parents steeped in all things Charlottesville, at first Szymanski believed college might be a time to break the mold.

“Initially, it dissuaded me from coming here because I did not want to follow in my parents’ footsteps,” she said.

Szymanski said “she ended up here” anyway in part because her parents have been her “super support squad.” Looking back, her initial rejection of UVA wasn’t really a hard no. “It always stayed on the roster,” she said.

“I think my parents were very right,” she said. “My mom, I remember when I decided to go to UVA, she posted something on Facebook that said, ‘UVA will take her great places.’ And I think UVA is really just a launchpad for the rest of the world. And so I am really grateful I made that decision.”

Sometimes fathers – and mothers – really do know best.

Media Contact

Mike Mather

Managing Editor University Communications