The Show Must Go On: Story Lab Kicks Off on a Virtual Stage This Year


As the world continues to face unprecedented challenges and social unrest, it is more important than ever to share stories that inspire, highlight diverse perspectives, and bring people together. Recognizing this, the Sanger Leadership Center at the Ross School of Business and students in the Ross Design + Business Club strategized over the summer to find a way to bring the school’s much-loved storytelling initiative, Story Lab, to life virtually.

In Story Lab, Ross students learn how to craft and deliver a compelling story. Furthermore, they develop the verbal communication skills that effective leaders need to connect meaningfully with others and communicate with impact. 

“Story Lab is an integral part of the Ross experience, and I’m glad that it can continue this year in a slightly different format than what we may be used to. It’s a great opportunity once a quarter to unplug (your phone -- we still need everyone linked into Zoom) and focus on the personal and vulnerable stories of our classmates so that we can be exposed to new perspectives as we continue to grow as professionals,” said Stephanie Simpson, MBA ‘21, the vice president for Story Lab in the Ross Design + Business club.

The program kicked off its virtual format in September, with nearly 200 Ross students and community members tuning in to hear how to get involved this year and to listen to stories shared by several previous participants. Those storytellers — Tieranny Baker, MBA ’21; Kat Andrade, BBA ’23; Lochlan S. Palmrose, BBA ’23; and Annie Wang, BBA ’23 — were able to film their performances on stage inside Robertson Auditorium the week prior to the Story Lab kickoff event. 

Though they told their stories in an empty auditorium, the power of their stories shone through in their videos. In addition, Ross alum Candice Fu, MBA ’19, recorded her story about her fluffy friend, Reggie, from the comfort of her own home, with a guest appearance by the feline himself.

“As a fall 2019 Ross Story Lab alum, I got to experience both the in-person and virtual kickoff and both events were super empowering,” said Wang. “I was excited to have the opportunity to share my story. One of the best parts about Story Lab is the resources Sanger empowers us with to deliver an impactful story. I was able to share an important part of my growth that I would otherwise not have the opportunity to in front of a large audience. Although the kickoff was virtual, the Sanger Leadership team made the event run just as successfully and smoothly as it would have been in the Robertson Auditorium.”

Similar to previous years, Ross students this year will have the opportunity to participate in Story Lab Retreats. The retreats, which are run remotely by the expert storytellers at alumnae-owned company Wolf & Heron, were offered to all first-year Full-Time MBAs this semester, and will be offered to any student at U-M in winter term. After participating in an online retreat, students will have the opportunity to share their stories on a virtual stage at the Story Lab Showcases.

The next public showcase is scheduled for Nov. 17,  from 5-6:30 p.m. EST. Register today.

Watch Story Lab’s Kick-off Event on Sanger’s YouTube Channel

For more information about Story Lab and to get involved, visit the program’s website.

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