Meet The Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2017

Kimberly Kennedy

Kimberly Kennedy


University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Undergraduate School and Major: Middlebury College, Double Major in Political Science and Italian  

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation (Ordered from most recent to least recent): 

  • Training Resources Group, Inc. Organizational Development Associate/Team Lead
  • Abt Associates, Associate Analyst, International Health Policy Division
  • International Institute of Sport, Project Director
  • Grassroot Soccer Manager – Malawi Country Program
  • Grassroot Soccer Program Field Assistant – South Africa Country Program

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? I decided on the GRE because I was keeping my options open for dual degree programs. My main advice for applicants is to get the test done early! The rest of the application process requires significant amounts of time, reflection, and mental stamina. Trying to balance this process and study for the GRE or the GMAT at the same time would have been extremely difficult. I would also recommend that applicants plan to take the test twice. Simple things like understanding where the lockers are to keep a snack, how the security check-in process works, and calmer nerves can bring that sought-after score jump.

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? Research, research, research—and then validate assumptions! I suggest that applicants start thinking carefully about their personal narrative before they settle on a list of target schools. By uniting the somewhat symbiotic processes of articulating my future goals and narrowing down an application list, I was able to ask targeted and meaningful questions during school visits, gather nuanced information about each program, and ”let go” of wonderful and well-known programs that did not best match my needs. I ended up with a list of schools that fit my personal criteria, were diversified in terms of rankings and acceptance rates, and I would be sincerely happy attending. 

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? I spent the majority of my application process focused on exploring and crafting my personal narrative. I feel strongly that this helped me succeed. I sought to identify the common threads that connected my professional experiences to my personal story, define my current leadership style and the type of leader I wanted to become, and gain a deeper understanding of how my professional goals could play out after business school. Research, reflection, and many, many conversations enabled me to write essays that spoke directly to each MBA admissions team, to engage my recommenders as excited teammates in my application process, and to provide honest and compelling answers in interviews.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Any applicant dreams of receiving multiple offers. But when that day came, it proved a surprisingly difficult part of the process.

While agonizing over a final choice between two schools, I received a wonderful piece of advice. A Michigan alumna told me to pay close attention to the leadership styles and overall presence of graduating MBA2s and decide if they carried the qualities and attributes that I desired to develop over the next two years. When I entered Ross’s prospective student weekend with that mindset, I immediately knew it was the place for me. The MBA2s were clearly a group of highly-engaged individuals who never blinked at the opportunity to step up. They were passionate and collaborative leaders, who balanced a sense of calm with an excited need to contribute to both the Ross community and to society. I selected Ross because I knew that my peers and the opportunities presented by the school would push me to become the engaged, supportive, and agile leader that I want to be.

Some of the other important factors that led me to choose Ross were the following: Its large, responsive, and widely distributed alumni network; its rich and formalized relationships with other top graduate programs at the University of Michigan; and the school’s focus on action- based learning.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? Ultimately, I would like to become a leader who seamlessly accepts challenges and can employ the skills and mindset to attack the most difficult issues that face emerging economies today. In working towards this goal, I aim to continually place myself in new and challenging situations while at Ross. One of the first tasks on my list for September is to identify the space, such as the William Davidson Institute or Center for Positive Organizations, where I can build these skills and contribute to the Ross community in a lasting manner.

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