Where Were You When You Found Out You Got In?

As decisions for the Batten Class of 2023 begin to be released this Friday for Accelerated MPP students and in the weeks to follow for our other programs, we wanted to share some of our favorite acceptance stories of our current Batten students for #togetherweareBatten:


I first heard I got into Batten after receiving a cryptic voicemail from none other than Batten’s own Jeff Chidester. Convinced I had messed up some part of my application, I frantically called Jeff back a few minutes later. I was met with Jeff’s hearty laugh as he told me I was accepted and he just liked to mess with admitted students.

  • Teka Lenahan, MPP ‘21


Last year, I was studying at a different graduate program in Dublin, Ireland. I knew the day that we were supposed to find out and I said to my friend, "I don't want them to try any phone call BS, I'm thousands of miles away, just send me an e-mail." Well of course it did not work like that. I put my phone away and worked in the library for a few hours, then, when I was done, I saw I had an email from Jeff Chidester asking me to call him. I called him. He did not answer. I walked back to my flat. I called him again, and he did not answer. I changed, got a snack, called him again. Still no answer. I called him six times before he answered, all the while convincing myself about how I was a good candidate and my GRE scores were not bad and how it was unlikely that he would make an international call to reject me. Finally, after over an hour of trying and taking breaks in between trying, I got through to him, and he told me I had been a shoo-in. I went to a pub to celebrate. 

  • William Rockwood, MPP 2022


It was right before the pandemic really hit and I was going on spring break with some of my friends to Puerto Rico. The plane had just landed and I turned on my phone for service and I received a call from Courtney who wanted to be the first to tell me I was accepted into the program. I tried to contain my excitement but several rows of passengers looked at me when I was saying OMG I got into my #1 choice and everyone was cheering for me. It was a great start to my break.

  • Victoria Nelson, MPP ‘22


I was accepted into the Batten BA program on the first day of Spring Break in 2019. It was 5:00 pm and I was on my way to the airport for a trip to Europe with my mom. We got to the gate and saw a ton of students on our flight dressed in UVA gear. I started talking to one of them, and she told me they were on their way to Northern Ireland for their Batten capstone with Paul Martin! I told them “I just got into Batten two hours ago!!” so the entire class was congratulating me through the night and when we landed in London the next day. It was a wonderful, international, exhausting, and super special welcome into the Batten community.

  • Adele Reardon, BA ‘21


I was actually traveling in Marrakech, Morocco when I found out that I got accepted in the Batten B.A. program. I was staying in a hostel at the time with super limited internet access since my international phone plan didn't cover Northern Africa. I celebrated that night by visiting the outdoor night market in the old city of Marrakech. This all happened during my spring break week that turned into the last week abroad since my study abroad program in Florence, Italy was cut short. Needless to say, it was a shimmer of hope in the midst of all the disappointment of an abrupt stop to my study abroad. 

  • Mila Ho, Batten BA ‘22


It was Valentine’s Day and I was a bundle of nerves—not because of the holiday, but because Batten MPP decisions were about to be released. My friends knew it was a very important day for me and they were doing everything they could to distract me from constantly checking my email. We went for a long drive around Charlottesville and all of the sudden I got an alert on my Apple Watch of all things. I had an email from the Batten School and I could see on the tiny watch screen was “Congratulations!” I immediately started screaming and my friend reached across the seat and gave me a hug. It was a great day.

  • Paulina Keim, MPP 2022


I had just landed in Indianapolis for a visit at a different grad school. It was also strange because the NFL combine was that weekend too so I walked out with an Ohio State football player. He was picked up by a scout for the Detroit Lions. I was picked up by Raul the Lyft driver. Jeff Chidester then called me as I got in my Lyft. I was excited but also stressed between dealing with the Lyft driver and the phone call because of who I am as a person.

  • Christian Tjoa, MPP ‘21


I recall receiving text messages and phone calls as I walked to my apartment on the evening of March 2nd. I hurried to my room in Bond House and immediately called my mom. I opened my laptop with eagerness and anticipation as I have wanted to become a member of the Batten community since I stepped foot on Grounds as a prospective student. I remember reading the letter and jumping for joy. All of my hopes, dreams, and career aspirations were aligning with a single admissions decision beginning with a simple, “Congratulations.” After I shared the news with my mom, I immediately Facetimed my close friend, Rasheed Christian, who also applied and lived upstairs. He shared his good news with me over the phone and raced to my room. I remember giving him a hug as we both enjoyed each other’s company and celebrated the fact that we were venturing on this new journey together.

  • Lauren Cochran, Batten BA 2022


I was walking a dog along the Katy Trail in Dallas, TX when I saw an incoming phone call from a Virginia number. I answered to hear Courtney Leistensnider’s enthusiastic, advance heads-up that I’d been accepted into the MPP program! Honestly, at that point, I wasn’t even considering Batten among my top options, but that personal touch propelled me to make a visit, which eventually sealed the deal.

  • Emily Barksdale, MPP ‘21