It was a busy three weeks for the 19 first-year students at the Ross School of Business who participated in the fourth annual Ross Summer Connection program this year, with full days of virtual classes, workshops, and bonding events.
RSC is typically a four-week-long residential program that prepares incoming BBA students for the transition from high school to college, helps form a community of peers, offers career preparation, and provides an authentic exposure to first-year required courses. Due to the pandemic, this year’s program was shortened to three weeks and took place virtually.
Despite the shift to a virtual setting, participants still found themselves cultivating meaningful relationships with each other and with their mentors, who are RSC alumni and current BBA students.
“I am happy to have made great friends and mentors to learn from,” said Gabrielle Wiwigacz, BBA ’24, who participated in RSC this year. “I felt nervous going into college before the program, but after this experience, I feel more confident about what the future holds.”
During the program, Wiwigacz was introduced to three first-year required courses — learning the basics and rigor of Michigan math, writing, and microeconomics.
In addition to taking classes, Wiwigacz said, students had the opportunity to attend workshops with the Ross Career Development Office and competed in a case competition facilitated by the Zell Lurie Institute.
Fostering lasting connections between first-year students and upperclassmen
As every year, RSC offered the first-year students the opportunity not only to meet each other, but also the upperclassmen who served as mentors. The mentors — who were all RSC alumni —- were able to share their knowledge with their new classmates, and they also organized the program’s social activities.
RSC mentor Izabela Martini, BBA ’23, said that figuring out how to connect with students virtually was challenging, but that she and the other mentors were able to plan regular bonding events, such as Kahoot games and virtual escape rooms.
“Each week, we had two to four social events on Zoom where we played games, asked questions about each other, and were able to hang out,” explained Ayodele Ojo, BBA ’23, who also served as a mentor. “The students are so funny and it was a blast getting to know them.”
The RSC alumni said they wanted to serve as mentors for the program because they saw how impactful the program was for their own college experience.
Mentor Joaquin Gomez, BBA ’22, was part of the second RSC cohort and reflected on how RSC has impacted his college experience.
“RSC has been one of the most important experiences of my college career, and a large part of that was the guidance and direction from the RAs and the staff,” said Gomez. “For that reason, I try to make sure that my own leadership and advice has that same impact on each new group of incoming students.”
RSC mentors are able to see how their students have grown in the short span of three weeks.
“My mentees feel comfortable coming to me for any concerns or questions they have, from college life to academics to personal life,” said mentor Suzy Yik, BBA ’22. “Most students are timid as the program starts, but as the weeks progress, I see the students grow, learn, and become great individuals ready to tackle college and adult life.”
Now that the summer portion of the program is over, participants are excited to engage further with the Ross community, as the academic portion of the program is ongoing through sophomore year.
“I am looking forward to meeting new people! I love to make new friends and Ross is the perfect place to meet people from around the country and even the world,” said Wiwigacz.