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Creating a Student Community Thousands of Miles Away from Campus

Photo of a group of four students smiling and standing in front of a building in Berlin, Germany.

I started the Online MBA Program at the Ross School of Business in the early days of 2022 and couldn’t have felt more out of place. I hadn’t taken a math class since senior year of high school and had spent my entire career to date in arts and entertainment. To help me identify a place for myself in the program, I thought about applying to be one of the two new cohort representatives on the OMBA Student Council, a group that spoke to me as an avid participant in my high school’s student government. 

However, being new to the program and not knowing many people, I talked myself out of it before finishing the application.

In my next term at Ross, I decided to enroll in the OMBA program’s first International Residency which would send me and around 40 of my fellow students to Berlin, Germany to further our international business acumen. That week overseas was my first in-person interaction with anyone else in the OMBA program and I realized the challenges I was facing early on weren’t only mine. We’d all chosen to embark on a degree program that kept us geographically distanced from each other and we all felt the weight of that distance. During our week together, I met several students involved in the OMBA Student Council and realized they were actively trying to bridge that gap by utilizing online channels to bolster student-to-student communications. Upon returning home, I was inspired to participate in the next academic year’s Council and, the following year, I was elected president. 

The OMBA Council was initially a small student-led group focused on liaising between current students and the program administration, particularly when the program first began in 2019. Today, the council consists of 10-12 students who work together to further improve the Online MBA program and its offerings for students. My mission as President of the OMBA Council this year is to bring together my fellow students from around the world.  From the get-go, I worked to integrate our student Slack network to U-M’s, enabling a larger cross-section of students to utilize it. Connecting to the Slack workspace allowed us to deeper integrate into the larger Ross community and we’re working with other Ross MBA programs to expand the intersectionality between programs with online students participating in campus clubs, social activities and more. 

In my two years on the Council, we’ve sponsored regional meetups across the country and around the world. We’re always welcoming new students, encouraging networking and creating connections, and are currently working to develop an alumni outreach program. With an ever-growing number of Online MBA alumni, we want to make sure we have a way to leverage their success stories for current and future students and make sure our alumni always have a pulse on our activities.

And still, the work is not done. The Online MBA Program is quickly growing, with more students enrolled than ever before, and with that we have new opportunities for connection and the OMBA Council will continue to foster those opportunities.

If you are interested in learning more or participating in the OMBA Council, please feel free to reach out [email protected].