I Just Spent a Week in the Shoes of America’s Most Powerful People


By Matthew Williams, BBA ‘17

Something incredible happens when you take several dozen undergraduate business students, hole them up in a hotel together in our nation’s capital, and then have them spend their days hearing about and experiencing what goes into making an influential government function.

During our recent week of classes in D.C. as part of the Michigan Ross Carson Scholars program, the U.S. government changed from this separate entity we hear about in the news and turned into something more personal. In five days, the U.S. government became our government. My classmates and I became active shareholders in one of the largest, most powerful entities in world history.

The 2016 Michigan Ross Carson Scholars

That’s what the Carson Scholars program does. It acts as a kind of catalyst for its students. I’m not just more informed now about how government actions impact business, I’ve experienced it. We learned from lawmakers, and chatted with tycoons. We roamed the corridors of American influence and put ourselves in the shoes of members of Congress and regulators.

Each day, these experiences drove remarkable conversations. With each passing day, we became more aware of the difficulties and opportunities that shape the world of public service and the role we would each like to play in that environment.

As our week drew to a close, I found myself on the floor of the House of Representatives listening to a former congressman elucidate the influence of government when the surreality of this particular opportunity struck me.

Here I was, surrounded by people who had begun the week as strangers, friends, and classmates, and we ended it as people ready to leverage our newfound knowledge of public policy and aptitude, with a new vision for how business can change the world.

Success in business is, in part, hinged on knowing how to leverage the forces that shape the private and public environments. Programs like Carson Scholars expose us to a world that is bigger and more complex than most undergraduates have experienced. That is the Michigan Ross difference we hear so much about.

Every university talks of how their students are equipped to change the world. But thanks to the generosity of donors like Mr. David Carson, the hard work of staff and faculty like Professor George Siedel, and the university’s willingness to challenge its students with transformational experiences, we feel more able to effect that change than most.

Matthew Williams is a senior in the Michigan Ross BBA Program and an economics major through LSA. He is currently applying to law schools and looking forward to further investigating the intersection of business and law.  

See more pictures from the trip