Michigan Ross Names First Recipient of New Full-Time MBA Black Business Student Association Fellowship
In recognition of his notable impact on the community, TJ Banks, MBA ’21, was awarded a new fellowship for second-year Full-Time MBA students who are members of the Black Business Student Association at the Ross School of Business.
The BBSA Fellowship was created to honor Black excellence at Michigan Ross. The fellowship is the result of an ongoing, months-long fundraising campaign launched by BBSA members in partnership with the Ross Full-Time MBA Program and Ross Development.
Graduating members of BBSA were invited to apply for the $10,000 fellowship this year. Banks, who is one of three Black male Ross student ambassadors, a Ross liaison to the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, and serves on the MBA Council’s DEI Committee, was selected as the first recipient by members of the Full-Time MBA team and Michigan Ross faculty.
“TJ has gone above and beyond within the Consortium network at Michigan Ross, and even joined the University of Michigan’s Central Student Government to strive for more diverse representation,” said David Wooten, Alfred L. Edwards Collegiate Professor and University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor. “His dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion work is commendable, and the impact of his efforts are evident in the Ross community and beyond. In short, he was chosen because we saw him as an unsung hero of DEI at Michigan Ross.”
MBA Council President Jen Nwuli, MBA ’21, announced Banks as the inaugural recipient of the BBSA Fellowship at the 45th Annual Alfred L. Edwards Conference, an event that celebrates the contributions and successes of Black students at the U-M and is the longest-running conference at Michigan Ross.
Making DEI a focus of his Ross experience
Banks said he has put DEI at the forefront of his time in the Full-Time MBA Program at Michigan Ross.
“It’s a way to give back to the incoming students, represent people of color in places where we are typically left out, and foster a community that promotes an inclusivity for current and prospective students,” he explained. “My main reason for attending Ross over other schools was the minority community and its tie to DEI.”
While finishing his MBA, Banks is looking forward to continuing his DEI work, including organizing virtual social events for Consortium members to connect with each other, and helping the Sports Business Association source diverse representation for the inaugural Ross Sports Business Conference.
After graduation, Banks is committed to being a leader in building more inclusive communities and increasing diverse representation in the business world.
“I will continue to lift as I climb to ensure that there is a pipeline for people of color to enter the ranks of management in corporate America,” he said. “Until the ranks of management resemble the nation’s population, there is much equitable work to be done.”
About the BBSA Solidarity Campaign
After the BBSA Call to Action was made last year, Nwuli was inspired to create an endowed fellowship for BBSA members in the second year of the Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA Program. She worked with Ross Development to launch the BBSA Solidarity Campaign in fall of 2020.
The campaign’s goal is to raise $100,000 by April 30, 2021 — the Michigan Ross graduation date — to continue offering the annual award in perpetuity. Since its launch in the fall, the campaign is over halfway to reaching that goal.
Among the gifts given to the campaign include a generous seed donation from Angela Bodley Carter, MBA ’07, and contributions from other Ross students organizations. In fact, 10 student organizations have already committed to supporting the campaign in solidarity with BBSA.
“I’m so excited to have such strong buy-in from fellow classmates,” said Nwuli. “Of the over $51,000 raised, almost half has come directly from current students and Ross clubs. My classmates are really stepping up and committing to allyship — and we can see through their actions in supporting the campaign.”