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Reflecting on Diversity: My Q&A with Ross BBA Ambassadors and Peer Recruiters for Outreach
As we honor Black History Month at Michigan Ross, our BBA DEI Council (made up of Ross undergraduate students) also recognizes February as BBA Diversity Month. During this month, Michigan Ross celebrates the diversity of our business school community and our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
I sat down with two of our Ross BBA Ambassadors and Peer Recruiters for Outreach - Audrey, BBA ’24, and Karyn, BBA ’23 - to reflect on what diversity means to them and their role in recruiting students from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences to the BBA program.
Before I get to those conversations, there are a few things you should know. First, the ambassador and PRO roles are crucial to our success in recruiting a diverse student body. In admissions, we know that peers are one of the biggest influencers on an applicant’s decision to attend a certain college, so we want our ambassadors and PROs front and center in the recruitment process. Second, the undergraduate recruitment process has evolved over the years to dig deeper into efforts that can help foster a broadly diverse incoming class of students. These efforts include a focus on recruiting students with minoritized social identities, those that are first in their family to attend college, or those who believe they don’t have the financial resources or academic potential to attend a college like the University of Michigan.
Two of our very successful undergraduate outreach programs are All Access Weekend and Ross Preview Weekend, where we bring to campus high school juniors and seniors so they can experience what it’s like to be a student at Ross. (Check out this Student Voices story about a student’s experience from participating in one of these weekends).
We believe that our efforts to recruit a more diverse class have helped change the demographics of our admitted student profile. Students with racially minoritized identities represent 17% of the admitted class in 2021, compared to 7% in 2014, and women represent 46% in 2021, compared to 34% in 2014. We know we still have a long way to go, but our ambassadors will tell you that Michigan Ross is an inclusive community that welcomes students of all ethnic/racial backgrounds, educational resources, and financial means.
Why did you become a Ross BBA ambassador?
“In high school, I was nervous about applying to Ross and unsure if I could get admitted. But I had one teacher who pulled me aside and told me, ‘No, you got this’. Without her, I wouldn’t be here today. So when I heard about the ambassador position, I thought that was my way to share what my teacher had shared with me - ‘you can do this’. That this school (Michigan Ross) will change your life. If I can push them, and help them succeed. That is satisfying. I want to be the representation that a student needs to be a symbol of motivation or a symbol that you can be here, too.” - Audrey
“In high school, I always loved encouraging other students. I was very involved, and as such, I wanted to be one of those students giving tours in college.” - Karyn
What has been your most rewarding ambassador experience?
“My most rewarding experience being an ambassador and PRO is when I am on student experience panels. Especially, when I speak in spaces where there is an audience with people of color. I like to answer the question of ‘What is the Black experience like at Ross?’ because it reassures parents that their kids will have a sense of belonging. It is reassuring for them to hear you be confident about your experience as a person of color. That is something that makes me feel great about what I am doing. It gives me joy that I can give others confidence. Parents want to see their children connect with someone else. Especially someone that looks like them.” - Karyn
“Drop-ins with ambassadors get overlooked sometimes. I have talked to so many students who said they would not apply had it not been for me talking with them. Fellow students of color are excited to see me to ask ‘How is the Black experience?’ There is huge support for Black students here. At the end of the day, you will find your community. And, getting to talk to students on a personal level is so important to let them know that they can do this and that they have a place here.” - Audrey
What is the impact of your work as a student leader?
“In my role on the DEI student board, I provide training to the Ross Club President’s Group and I like to pose this question to the group: ‘What is diversity in your own words?’ I ask this question to gauge the culture of the club, and to understand how they support their members. I also want to spark conversation on how diversity initiatives aren’t something that you stop once you feel you achieve it. It is something that you continue to develop and grow within your club. You should foster a space for those that have a different identity than you. Having a diverse space is about making someone feel included in that space, even if no one looks like them. I pose that question because many are at different levels of comfort in talking about diversity, and I want our club presidents to know that being comfortable with being uncomfortable is important.” - Karyn
“Everyone is still learning and creating new approaches to DEI. I hosted a DEI event for my business fraternity as the DEI director and students came up to us and said that we actually got it. And it's not only hosting an event, it's implementing values regarding DEI that we must follow in our business fraternity. It's about embracing our own identities within our community and how to also make others feel comfortable. If you don’t know how to embrace the people around you, then everything else in business falls apart. Likewise, if you don’t understand who you are working with, then how are you going to work together?” - Audrey
Can I ask you, what is diversity in your own words?
“To me, diversity goes with inclusion because you can have a diverse space but it might not be equitable and inclusive. That is why creating open spaces that are free of judgment are important while also creating space to push people to embrace their own differences. We should all work to continually educate others around us. I have seen so many communities at Ross that embody this notion of continuous DEI education that can be a blueprint for other communities. Even in class we have discussions about it - we talk about DEI in my strategy class, for example. The faculty have open ears for discussions and want to make everyone feel welcome. We are definitely on the right path. It is really encouraging to see people that are so committed to making this community as DEI focused as possible.” - Audrey
“Diversity has helped me to expand my world. Being reflective about yourself and the experiences you’ve gone through allows you to see other people in a different light. And, when I think about what diversity means at the Ross School of Business, I see that people are working really hard to create an inclusive community and they are invested in creating a diverse community at Ross.” - Karyn
I really enjoyed checking in with a couple of our Ross student ambassadors and PROs. I highly encourage anyone considering attending Ross to reach out and schedule a time to chat with one of them. They really tell our story best and provide great insight into what it’s like to be a student here. You can also email questions to: RossBBAAmbassadors@umich.edu.