School News

Q&A: Michigan Ross MBAs in the Black Business Students Association Share Their Thoughts Ahead of Black History Month

By Bridget Vis

Black History Month is a special time to reflect, honor, and celebrate the valuable contributions that African Americans have and continue to make.

More than 50 years ago, the Black Business Students Association was formed at the Ross School of Business during a nationwide rise in consciousness among Black students on college campuses across the United States.  

A forward-thinking club, BBSA was one of the first organized by Black business students with these goals in mind: increase minority enrollment, improve member academic performance, and retain Black business students at both the BBA and MBA levels. 

Today, the members of BBSA remain a tight-knit community of individuals who continue to bring important issues impacting Black students to the forefront. The following Full-Time MBA students share their personal experiences with BBSA.

Patrice Drummond

Program/Year: Full-Time MBA ’22

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Post-Graduation Career Interest: Consulting

How are you celebrating Black History Month this year? 

As co-president of BBSA, I hope that we can organize Black History Month-specific programming to not only celebrate our Blackness, but also serve as a learning opportunity for allies at Ross.

How has being a member of BBSA contributed to your Michigan Ross MBA experience? 

BBSA has helped me find a safe haven and family at Ross during the ups and downs. BBSA has always been there to feel, understand, and push past the pain we experience seeing Black lives taken through senseless violent acts, but more importantly, it has been the place where I find the most joy celebrating my friends as they work toward their dreams.

What BBSA events/programming have you enjoyed the most? 

Rawse Nation Brunch was definitely a highlight of the year. It was a time for all members to come together, fellowship, and celebrate the exciting things that we have already accomplished and are working toward for the rest of the year. It was great not only to see fellow BBSA members, but also meet other Black grad students in other programs.

How have you been able to celebrate and/or share about your Black identity or history as a Ross MBA student? 

Last year, the Black men at Ross organized an appreciation brunch to celebrate the Black women at Ross post the tragic news of the Breonna Taylor verdict. I loved how we were able to celebrate one another and come together as a large group to fellowship, eat, and uplift one another. Despite the pain we were all facing as a Black community at that time, it was necessary to find the time to share joy and pride in being Black.

Christine Dumervil

Program/Year: Full-Time MBA ’23

Hometown: Hollywood, Florida

Post-Graduation Career Interest: Consulting

How has being a member of BBSA contributed to your Michigan Ross MBA experience?

Being a member of BBSA has given me a foundational community of peers I can lean on for any and everything. We not only constantly travel together, but also support each other through the highs and lows of classes and recruiting.

What BBSA events/programming have you enjoyed the most?

We did Detroit Trek to kick off the year and it has been my favorite trip so far. Since then I’ve been to London, Greece, and even Ghana with my BBSA peers, but D-Trek was a really special trip that allowed all of us to get to know one another a bit better before classes kicked off. 

How have you been able to celebrate and/or share about your Black identity or history as a Ross MBA student?

I try to bring up my experiences in the larger class settings as well as in my group projects. I’ve found that it is a particularly helpful context for international students who might not be as familiar with the racial tension that coats the U.S. Sharing more insights with them has been rewarding for them and reflective for me. 

What does being Black mean to you and/or what should others know about the Black community?

What others should know about the Black community is that being Black can mean ANYTHING. We are in no way a monolith –— the diaspora is very large and very diverse in thought, religion, values, and hue. Throw out any expectations you have of Black people and experience each individual for who they are. Blackness shows up differently on everybody and that's a beautiful thing. 

Kyra Grant

Program/Year: Full-Time MBA/MS '22

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

Post-Graduation Career Interest: Technology

How are you celebrating Black History Month this year?

As the co-president of the Black Business Students Association and co-chair for our annual Alfred L. Edwards Conference, I look forward to hosting Black alumni and sessions around empowerment and excellence within the Black community. In addition, I read a related book each year and discuss key takeaways among friends and family. This year, I'll be reading the memoir of Hugh Price, This African American Life. 

How has being a member of BBSA contributed to your Michigan Ross MBA experience?

BBSA is family for me. The BBSA community within Ross has become some of my closest friends and have supported me through recruiting, studying for classes, and even personal issues. Although attending business school during a pandemic is difficult, being a member of BBSA has made the experience worthwhile.

What BBSA events/programming have you enjoyed the most?

Each year, I enjoy the Alfred L. Edwards Conference that features a dynamic keynote and a range of panelists for pertinent conversations that impact the Black community. This year, I have the honor of planning the conference and fellowshipping with alumni and current students as we celebrate the growth and future of Black success and achievement.

How can the Michigan Ross community support the Black community?

Three ways: First, get to know your Black classmates/colleagues/coworkers and learn about their backgrounds. The diaspora is vast and you can expand your knowledge on different cultural values. Second, become an ally of BBSA. We currently have two vice presidents on the team leading the charge on allyship and educational events. And lastly, donate to the BBSA Solidarity Campaign to fund our endowed BBSA Fellowship that helps to recognize a current second-year MBA with a monetary fellowship for their impressive contributions to the Ross community.

Odirichi (Richi) Kanu

Program/ Year: Full-Time MBA ’23

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

Post-Graduation Career Interest: Venture Capital

How are you celebrating Black History Month this year?

I’m taking the time to consciously fellowship with classmates. I believe that this period allows for a lot of open dialogue regarding the Black experience for students at Ross and the University of Michigan at large. I’ll also be attending the 46th annual Alfred L. Edwards Conference to experience the great speakers and dedicated Black programming.

How has being a member of BBSA contributed to your Michigan Ross MBA experience?

Being a BBSA member definitely fast-tracked my indoctrination into the Michigan Ross MBA community. There was communication and programming that allowed me to meet classmates, attend events, and travel to different cities. Most of this took place before classes even started; that has definitely helped fuel the network that I have been building here at Ross.

 How have you been able to celebrate and/or share about your Black identity or history as a Ross MBA student?

I have been able to speak about my Black identity or history in spaces such as the classroom or social events throughout the year. In classes like Leading People and Organizations (MO503), we spoke extensively about bias. This left space open to discuss how my Black identity plays into this topic when it comes to leadership. Additionally, I was able to emcee the African Business Club’s Afrobeats and was able to celebrate my history as a first-generation Nigerian-American.

How can the Michigan Ross community support the Black community?

The complete Michigan Ross community can support the Black community by providing opportunities for Black voices to be heard in shared spaces. The Black community has individual needs and perspectives, so giving these perspectives their due is a great way to create a holistic environment of support. 

Sam Bakare Korodo

Program/Year: Full-Time MBA ’23

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Post-Graduation Career Interest: Consulting

 How are you celebrating Black History Month this year?

Reading is a hobby of mine and throughout the year I take time to indulge in books focusing on the lives of historical figures. For Black History Month this year, I am looking forward to immersing myself in the biographies and autobiographies of great Black figures in history. A few people of focus include Reginald Lewis, Earl Butch Graves, Lorraine Hansberry, and Madam C.J. Walker.

How has being a member of BBSA contributed to your Michigan Ross MBA experience? 

BBSA has provided me with a community of individuals that share in my experience and further serve as a support system as we navigate the MBA journey together.

How have you been able to celebrate and/or share about your Black identity or history as a Ross MBA student?

As a Ross student, I have shared my Black identity with those in the community who I’ve grown relationships with. Sharing identities is a vulnerable act for anyone and I have been able to do that with both Black and non-Black Ross classmates.

What does being Black mean to you and/or what should others know about the Black community?

There are many things that make up my identity, but being Black means a lot to me and has shaped much of who I am today. There are many qualities that I possess that I credit to the Black experience. I have been afforded a spectacular work ethic, a heightened sense of awareness, and passion for success.

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