Meet The Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2017

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business


The stories behind the 2017 Class have also made Kwon bullish about the coming two years. “More than the strength of the class profile, though, we’re excited about the diversity of experiences our students bring with them – from an anesthesiologist to a former White House aide to a Broadway violinist to our largest cohort of veterans and teachers to date.”

Not to mention, Kwon has taken note of how class members have already acclimated themselves to the culture and begun to jell with each other. “Nearly two-thirds of them opted-in to do the Team Exercise portion of our admissions process, signaling that they value the team-oriented environment at Ross and aren’t afraid of ambiguity, as applicants can’t “prepare” for the Team Exercise and they need to be able to work well with complete strangers. The one thing that they all share is a passion for Ross. This is an enduring quality of our students and alumni, and one that I think sets us apart.”


And the 2017 Class echoed Kwon’s sentiments. In describing why they chose Ross, many cited ‘the people.’ Dannan Hodge, an entrepreneur with extensive experience in the social sector, was awed by how one Ross MBA intern performed in her summer internship. “When she asked for a review of her performance, I stated with confidence that I believed she could start and run every department of a company with competence and integrity.” And Hodge was equally struck by how engaged Ross faculty was, pointing to a visit from three faculty members to her firm’s China office to check in with the intern. “The faculty’s interest and commitment in their students’ work and progress was of a level I didn’t find in any other program.” 

Interior of the Ross School of Business

Interior of the Ross School of Business

Similarly, Kimberly Kennedy, who was most recently a team lead at the Training Resources Group, was advised by a Michigan grad to “pay close attention to the leadership styles and overall presence of graduating MBA2s.” During Kennedy’s prospective student weekend, she found that Ross second years personified exactly what she hoped to become after graduation. “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.”

And it wasn’t just the graduating Ross students who made an impression on the incoming class. Several lauded the alumni for swaying their decisions. “There is a “pay it forward” mentality,” Black observes, “where everyone is open to lending a hand because someone did it for him or her.” And Elizabeth Miller, who left her job as the director of development at the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation to enroll at Ross, was even more effusive about the alumni. “In every instance, the alumni I met served as microcosms of the student body and gave a better picture of your life over the next two years than statistical comparisons ever could.”


So where does the 2017 Class picture itself after their two years have passed? Yasukawa, for one, hopes to gain some perspective. “I don’t expect to come out of business school as master at managing people (I honestly think that I’ll be striving toward that for the rest of my life), but I do want to better understand the complexities of the working world and have the tools that will allow me to navigate and problem solve through those challenges.” Likewise, Jon Moss, who has held leadership roles in the food industry, plans to widen his lens.  “I found my experiences to be very local. Consequently, I am looking to broaden my global perspective, study internationally, and meet MBA students from around the world.”

"The Big House" -- The world's largest football stadium

“The Big House” — The world’s largest football stadium

However, many first years are holding their expectations in check, focusing more on the journey than the destination. “I am approaching my MBA experience looking for answers to some specific questions that have formed over time in my mind relating to opportunities in the realm of medical devices and the overall delivery of medical care,” admits Spencer Heaton, a resident physician at the University of Michigan. “I don’t expect to fully answer these questions in the short two years ahead, but I intend to be within striking distance.”

Vanessa Cheris, who taught middle school math before becoming a project controller at Deloitte, is not only seeking clarity but also a mission. “When I complete the program, I want to come out with a better sense of who I am, what I want, and how I will continue to make a positive impact in the world.”

To read profiles of incoming Michigan Ross students – along with their advice on tackling GMAT, applications, and interviews – click on the student links below.

Juan Andino / Arecibo, Puerto Rico

Courtney Black / Atlanta, GA

Thomas Carney / Voorhees, NJ

Joseph Chaves / Stillwater, MN

Vanessa Y. Cheris / Spring Valley, NY

Spencer Heaton / Provo, UT

Dannan Hodge / Ridgecrest, CA

Kimberly Kennedy / St. Louis, MO

Elizabeth Miller / Pittsburg, TX

Jon Moss / Washington, DC

Mikaela A. Rodkin / Berkeley, CA

Ally Stewart / Barnet, VT

Yuanchao Xie / Shanghai, China

Erin Yasukawa / San Jose, CA

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