Real Mindful: Catherine Aranda (MBA ’18)

Ricardo Almeida ©

Last week, we celebrated MindfulMBA’s second birthday, and I promised you some new things would be in store around here in year three. We’re only a week in, and I couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to “Real Mindful,” a new feature that will connect you – and me! – to cool people doing interesting things in impressive places. They’re amazing in many ways, but, they’re also real people out there in the business school space who are using mindfulness and stress management to survive, and thrive.

Or, at the very least, that’s the intention, right? ;-)

Catherine Aranda

Catherine Aranda, Darden MBA ’18

For our inaugural post in the “Real Mindful” series, I’m delighted to introduce you to Catherine Aranda, a member of the Class of 2018 at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

Catherine knows the challenges of balancing stress management with the competing – and often contrary – priorities of rigorous classes, career planning, campus leadership, and a social life, including a long-term but also long-distance relationship. She grew up in El Paso, Texas, but came to Darden after many years in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s an accomplished musician, proud auntie, and by the time her second year at Darden had barely started, she had already been awarded for her distinguished service to the campus community.

As you’ll hear, she’ll be the first to tell you she isn’t perfect, though. Which is fine by me, because perfect, you know, actually doesn’t exist.

Singing at Darden

Catherine performing at Darden

Despite having all this on her plate already, Catherine’s passion for well-being motivated her to become the driving student force behind “Resilience Week,” the first-ever awareness week for issues pertaining to mental health and wellness at Darden, happening next week from October 23 – 27.


Catherine and her mom, Marylou

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to our conversation (below), including the roots of her passion for well-being in her personal story, and some of her tips for keeping it up despite the frantic pace of MBA student life.

The struggle for balance is definitely still real, but fortunately, so is Catherine. I know you’re going to love getting to know her!

Know someone working with mindfulness on campus or in the workplace? Let me know, and they could be our next “Real Mindful” feature!

Header photo credit: Antonio

Monday Moment: Plain and clear

H Keller daring adventure quote w tag

This is one of those quotes that really grabs you the first time you see it. You wanna be like, yeah, exactly!  A daring adventure! And then you pause for a second and wonder how exactly your current life stacks up to that description, and whether and how exactly it might, or should.

What I love most about these words, though, is the source to which they’re attributed. Helen Keller became both deaf and blind after an illness before she was two years old. She was the first person with both conditions to receive a bachelor’s degree, and spent her 88 years on earth as an activist, writer and generally remarkable human being.

If her life wasn’t an example of the power of mindset, I don’t know what is. Although, being human, it’s quite likely she experienced many moments of despair and frustration, she did not choose to let them dominate her life. She accepted what was, and determined to make her life “a daring adventure” by her own definition.

What will your adventure be this week? The excuses bucket is currently at zero capacity, if you weren’t already feeling that, so whether it’s big, small, or even something only you notice, do something that ignites that spark of recognition within you, and reminds you that this life journey that you’re on isn’t for the faint of heart. If you weren’t already a courageous soul, you probably wouldn’t be here. ;-)



There’s a lot of talk out there lately about resilience. Also known as “grit,” it’s now being widely acknowledged as a critical deciding factor in success. Angela Lee Duckworth’s groundbreaking talk on the subject a few years ago introduced the topic into the wider vernacular(s) of education, business, and achievement overall, and there’s been no looking back. Resiliency is about being undaunted in the pursuit of a goal, no matter how challenging the obstacles you encounter along the way. It requires intense focus, hard work, and above all, unflagging hope. We all want to show that we are resilient — that we have “grit.” We want to be the person who didn’t give up, and made it as a result.

Some roads to success are really long, though. Like any journey, it is possible to make a wrong turn. What do you do when your internal GPS starts to tell you that you might be a few miles down the wrong road? Does your ego step in with its assessment of the situation, or does your intuition get to put some numbers on the board?  Read More