2017 Best & Brightest: Belisa Pang, University of Virginia (McIntire)

Belisa Pang

University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce

“If you can describe me in 15 words, you do not know me well.”

Fun fact about yourself: I do not know what the correct way to pronounce my first name is – Spanish is not the first language of my parents, who picked up the unusual name from a dictionary. I absolutely love it.

Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Beijing, China

High School: Florida Day School (obviously in Florida, Buenos Aires); Beijing No.4 High School (obviously in Beijing)

Major: Quant Finance, Statistics (Econometrics)

Favorite Business Courses: Global Commerce Scholar Seminars, Quant Finance Seminars, Business Analytics

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Global Commerce Scholar (in progress)
  • William M. Shermet Scholarship
  • Dean’s list
  • Full Scholarship with stipends at Peking University
  • JASSO Scholarship at Meiji University
  • AIESEC – Founder of Local Committee in Virginia
  • Peking University Latin American Student Association (LASA) – Vice president
  • Beijing Birdwatching Society – Volunteer

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • FIX SCR affiliate of Fitch Ratings, Buenos Aires, Assistant Analyst
  • HILTON WORLDWIDE, McLean, VA, Operations Finance Intern
  • BANK OF EAST ASIA, Beijing, Personal Finance Intern

Describe your dream Job: A top-tier finance scholar – with a cat, and intellectual peers with whom I can discuss cutting-edge theories or work together as a team.

Who is your favorite professor? I have a lot of favorite professors at McIntire (smile). I like Professor Wilhelm for his dedication, Professor Gallmeyer for his candidness (he taught me to stay disciplined – I cannot appreciate it more), and Professor Chapman for his positive energy, and Professor Kitchens for his attention to his students. Additionally I like my ICE professors for their different personalities. As students, we often underestimate how hard it is to balance research, teaching, and service at a business school. I wish I could know my professors better; they are as inspiring in life as they are in the classrooms.

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Coco Chanel, for her “lifelong determination, ambition, and energy which she applied to her professional and social life”.

What did you enjoy most about majoring in a business-related field? The people here are solution- and efficiency-oriented, which makes the school full of energy. I often found myself among young and ambitious peers with a lot of talents to learn from.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns: when life becomes stagnant, it is time for a breakthrough. It also shows the importance of a well-structured team.

Where would you like to work after graduation?  I want to pursue a PhD in finance. I really enjoy working with quantitative finance, and I would love to continue doing research in the field if possible.

What are your long-term professional goals? I hope I can be a good professor and make positive changes in other people’s lives.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Try to find out what you want to do as early as possible, so that you can more easily stay focused and maximize the potential of the time you spend learning business.

I knew I wanted to major in business when…I was in primary school. I watched a TV show where a Wharton graduate clearly stood out because of his training in the business school.”

If I didn’t major in business, I would be…a vet.”

Before I entered business school, I wish I had known…I would need credits for Linear Algebra to get my Stat degree. The business school is full of opportunities; it would be a pity if you could not take advantage of it because of other time obligations on the side.”

What was the happiest moment of your life? I thought my parents and my sister would be mad when I cancelled a trip back to China at the last minute, but instead, they encouraged me and respected my decision. It was one of the touching moments when I could tangibly feel their support and their unconditional love.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I speak several languages and I play the violin despite my hearing impairment.

What animal would you choose to represent your professional brand An owl? I’m still working towards it. I love owls because they are powerful but humble, and they represent wisdom in many cultures.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My grandma. She taught me to talk, and she always knows what to say.

I am lucky that I have a lot of people to appreciate, and I know that I would not be where I am today without the support from my families, my professors, and my peers. For example, until I graduated, I did not realize that nearly every single classmate in my middle school had raised their voice when they talked to me. I hope I will be able to help back one day.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? “I’d like to stay in touch with Belisa. And I will.”

Favorite book: King Solomon’s Ring (by Konrad Lorenz)

Favorite movie: Cats (the musical)

Favorite musical performer: Itzhak Perlman

Favorite vacation spot: Home

What are your hobbies? Violin, going to art galleries, concerts and theatres, birdwatching, horse-riding, taking care of animals and plants, reading, travelling

What made Belisa such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2017? “Belisa is truly one of the most unique and impressive students we have ever had here at the Commerce school. She speaks over 5 languages; is ethnically Chinese, but was raised in Argentina; took a year off from high school to work with indigenous tribes in Argentina; and then attended Peking University (China’s most prestigious university) for two yeasr prior to coming to UVa.

While here at the Commerce School, she has taken a very impressive 22 credits while most of our students take only 15 and has made Dean’s List both semesters. Belisa is one of our strongest students academically. she is not only completing a major with us, but also in the Statistics Department focusing on Econometrics. At McIntire, she has excelled concentrating in both Finance and Information Technology, with sub-focuses on Business Analytics, and Quantitative Finance. What makes Belisa even more impressive is that she was born with incurable hearing loss, and learned three languages and lip-reading with 80% hearing loss before 11th grade, at which time she acquired hearing aids. Belisa is a remarkable person, extremely well liked, charming and mature. She is truly a shining example of the human spirit. She is incredible driven with a spark for life that will set her apart in the years to come. She has definitely left her mark at the Commerce School.”

Danny Steeper, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Student Services and Academic Operations
University of Virginia
McIntire School of Commerce



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