I Am Blown Away By the Incredible Support of My Ross Classmates


By Nick Barrett, MBA ‘16

I have always been reasonably open with my classmates about my personal life. Most of them have met my boyfriend, either at football tailgate parties or other events, and have been supportive of us.

However, when I got up in front of my classmates after our statistics class one day to encourage them to sign an ally petition supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community at large, I was incredibly nervous.

The petition was part of Ross Out for Business, the LGBTQ student group, and their celebration of National Coming Out Week in October.

My section is a very diverse group made up of people from all over the world. Many students come from cultures and geographies where being gay is not socially acceptable, and in some cases illegal. And, while I had never felt ill-will from my section mates, I was worried that they would not be comfortable with openly supporting me and my community more broadly.

I was very wrong.

My section mates turned out in droves to sign the ally petition.

Out for Business also held a variety of other events during the week focused on educating our Ross colleagues on the LGBTQ community, while also encouraging our straight friends to become LGBTQ allies. The hope is that they will join us in advocating for equality and inclusion in the community here at Ross, and in the workplace when we return to the business world.


My classmates did not disappoint. They visited the booth that the Out for Business club set up in the Ross Winter Garden, posing for pictures with signs reading “#Sec6” and “#RossPride”.

And during one event, a panel of five LGBTQ students were asked to share their coming out story. Some of these stories were sad and difficult to hear. Others were still evolving, as the tellers were still working through their coming out process. And still others were happy and positive.

For me, the most touching part of the evening was the bravery shown by the tellers as they shared very intimate, personal stories with a large audience of their peers. But the support shown by those who came to the event was a close second.

The room was packed, standing room only. And at the end of the event, the attendees didn’t race for the door. They stayed to give hugs to the panelists and to thank them for sharing.

I was blown away by the response.

I believe that the experiences shared above are representative of the overall Ross culture. We are a vibrant and diverse community, but we are also incredibly supportive and open to different backgrounds and ways of life. From these differences we learn to be better people and ultimately better business leaders. I cannot tell you how amazing it feels to be surrounded by more than 750 proud classmates, friends, and allies.

For more information about the Out for Business club, please contact: ofbcontact@umich.edu

Nick Barrett is a first-year Ross MBA student. He previously worked at Deloitte where he was a Human Capital Senior Consultant. During his time at Deloitte, Nick also led the LGBTQ employee resource groups for first the Washington, D.C., then the Chicago offices.  He is currently the Director of Admissions for Ross Out For Business.