2020 Best & Brightest: Emily Coppa, University of Virginia (McIntire)

Emily Coppa

University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce

“My motto: Do now; sleep later. My superpower: can talk to a brick wall.”

Fun fact about yourself: I am an avid four-wheeler who loves to race through the woods with my dad.

Hometown: Kinnelon, NJ

High School: Kinnelon High School

Major: Commerce (Concentrations in Accounting and Information Technology)

Minor: Business Spanish

Favorite Business Course: Commercial Law

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Head McIntire Mentorship Chair
  • Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope – IRS-certified as a volunteer income tax assistant
  • Latinx and Migrant Aid – Program director at the Cherry Avenue site
  • ULink – Peer adviser
  • Women’s Business Forum – Mentor
  • Sigma Kappa Sorority – Assistant vice president of finance (2017-2018)
  • College Council Representative (August 2016 – May 2018) – Outreach chair

School Awards and Honors:

  • Dean’s List of Distinguished Students (all semesters)
  • Intermediate Honors
  • Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Honor Society
  • NJCPA scholarship recipient
  • VSCPA scholarship recipient
  • Raven Society scholarship recipient

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • KPMG (Short Hills, NJ) – Audit Intern (summer 2019)
  • Attended UVA in Valencia to earn my Business Spanish minor (summer 2018)

Where will you be working after graduation? KPMG (Short Hills, NJ) – Audit Associate

What company do you admire the most?  I chose to begin my career at KPMG, given the firm’s welcoming culture, values, and people. Every individual I have met is truly a highly qualified professional who motivates others, is a team player, encourages participation in community service, and celebrates differing ideas. I was fortunate enough to attend KPMG’s Global Advantage program in Amsterdam, where I enhanced my skill sets and witnessed worldwide KPMG professionals unite as one team with a collaborative corporate culture across numerous nationalities. My 2019 summer internship only amplified these observations through the relationships formed, the invaluable experiences gained, and the beneficial lessons learned. Not only is KPMG a high-achieving firm, but it has a well-balanced and inclusive culture, of which I am excited to be a part after graduation.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? McIntire has afforded me with a community in which I am comfortable to learn, explore, and grow as a student and an individual. I enjoy seeing friendly and familiar faces between classes, as well as the intimate classroom feel, where I can truly engage with both my professors and peers. McIntire has truly given me invaluable friendships through group collaboration and by surrounding myself with bright and talented students and professors. Even more, it has helped to make a big school feel small. I know that its challenging, yet rewarding curriculum will intellectually prepare me for my future career.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Utilize all resources and connections and remain confident in your own abilities. Throughout my McIntire experience, I often relied on upperclassman to answer recruiting, career, and class schedule questions. Likewise, professors and advisers have been comforting resources, always available for outside guidance and for providing advice based on their experiences. While seeking insight from others is beneficial, it is also important to not compare yourself to others and remain confident in your own unique path, skills, knowledge, and background that make you stand out from the crowd.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I was struck by just how integrated business really is. Business is not just plugging numbers and using formulas, but rather it encompasses in-depth knowledge of the world. Various tools are utilized to calculate solutions and different analyses are conducted, especially given the overlap between separate areas of business. There have been countless times in which a skill I learned in one class proved beneficial in another, such as when utilizing my accounting techniques to aid in IT discussions and problems. It is crucial to have a well-rounded, versatile business background and a determination to learn from past business failures and achievements and to utilize various skills, techniques, and tools to strive towards success in the future.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my involvement in Latinx and Migrant Aid (LAMA), as I have been in this program since my first year and have been my site’s program director for the last three years. Every Tuesday, we tutor and mentor Spanish-speaking children to improve their English-speaking and academic abilities. After working with a seven-year-old student for almost four years, simple lessons about reciting the alphabet quickly moved to learning how to read, add, and subtract. As a program director, I ensure the success of the program by overseeing my volunteers, sending out weekly reminders, and being a go-to resource for the program. LAMA has taught me invaluable leadership skills, time management, and the importance of consistent effort. It is a very rewarding experience, as it affords me the ability to give back to the Charlottesville community, as well as create bonds with local families outside of UVA.

Which classmate do you most admire? I collectively admire my third-year Integrated Core Experience (ICE) group – Christian Blackwell, Kara Braith, Josef Millner, and Paige Wood. The many hours spent working on our semester-long project transformed our randomly selected group of individuals, who previously were strangers, into a collaborative group full of shared ideas, jokes, snacks, and great friendships both in and out of the school setting. They are all intelligent individuals with positive and caring attitudes, diligent work ethics, and lighthearted senses of humor, who undoubtedly have incredibly bright futures ahead. When asked to choose just one peer I most admire, I cannot choose between these four individuals – we are one cohesive group that truly influenced my smooth transition into McIntire.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I have always admired my older sister, Kate. She constantly wears a smile that has the power to light up any room. She has the ability to brighten anyone’s day with her charm, humor, and positive outlook on life. Kate is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in and is an intelligent, driven, and successful young woman. She has constantly been my role model, showing me that with a can-do attitude that anything is possible. Kate truly is my mentor, motivator, rock, and biggest fan. She refuses to let me give up on myself, helping me through stressful times, always reminding me of my qualities and encouraging me to be my best. I would not be where I am today without my sister’s unconditional love, support, and friendship.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Pass the CPA exam within one year of graduation
  • Make Partner

What are your hobbies? I enjoy running, hiking, baking, four-wheeling, swimming, music, traveling, mentoring, volunteering, solving puzzles, exploring Charlottesville and visiting its wineries, and going to new restaurants. I love to keep a packed schedule and am always down to try new things!

What made Emily such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“What impressed me most about Emily was her strong leadership potential. She served as a role model for other participants in my course and beyond, which became evident in a number of different ways. Her exceptionally strong and consistent drive for academic excellence and critical reflection upon course topics, including very challenging ethical and managerial issues in a digitally transforming multi-stakeholder environment, stood out. She combined this intellectual curiosity and academic performance with a strong commitment to positive social impact and building communities that bridge multiple divides. There is no doubt that Emily made extraordinarily important contributions to an open yet critical and reflective classroom environment that paved the way for class discussions and debates, helping everyone in the classroom, including myself, to learn and improve upon human judgment and leadership skills. Yet, her desire for positive and lasting impact on the communities she participates in and serves extends far beyond the classroom. Without her, I doubt we would have had such a great social event outside of the classroom and opportunities for getting to know and supporting each other. In sum, I am very much looking forward to seeing in the future how Emily leverages her unique potential and virtues, not only for short-term business success but importantly also for positive and sustainable societal impact.”

Robert W. Gregory
Associate Professor of Commerce


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