School News

The Impact Makers: Meet the Full-Time MBA Class of 2024

By Bridget Vis

The 380 members joining the Full-Time MBA Program at the Ross School of Business this year are setting diversity records, while showcasing their commitment to making a positive difference at Michigan Ross and beyond.

Class of 2024 Consortium members

The Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA Class of 2024 includes a record-breaking 42% U.S. students of color and 55 first-generation students, which surpasses a previous high of 49. Women represent 42% of the class; 36% are international students from 39 countries around the world; 9% are members of the LGTBQ+ community; and there are a near-record 28 military veterans. 

 

With 67 students already holding a graduate degree, 42 of the newest MBAs are pursuing a dual degree at another one of the University of Michigan’s top-ranked graduate programs, including a record high of 15 MBA/MD students. The class has on average 5.6 years of work experience, and the top metro areas the students come from are Washington D.C., New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, and New Delhi.

In addition, the Class of 2024 comes with impressive academic statistics, including a 3.5 average undergraduate GPA and 720 average GMAT score.

Below, meet seven members of the new Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA cohort.

Alaa Itani 

Hometown: Kalamazoo, Michigan

Undergraduate school/major: Washington University in St. Louis, anthropology and environmental studies

Most recent employer and job title: Arabella Advisors, director

What has been your first impression of the Ross MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far? Tell us your best Ross story so far.

Students, alumni, and other representatives of the Michigan Ross community have been incredibly warm and welcoming. I had the opportunity to meet classmates in person at two conferences in the summer: The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management’s Orientation Program and Career Forum and the Forté Foundation’s MBA Women’s Leadership Conference. In both of these experiences, I formed fast friendships with Ross students and felt very supported by the Career Development Office at Ross. I also love hearing about Ross from colleagues and friends: Every time I share that I’m attending the school, they have stories about connections who loved their experience there. 

When you think of the Michigan Ross MBA Program, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? 

Camaraderie. Even before we step on campus, there is a strong sense of school spirit and connection between students. I got to feel that in virtual programming as well as in person during a few conferences this summer. One morning during a conference, we got up at 7 a.m. to purchase season tickets to Michigan football games. Students made sure we all knew the instructions and relevant codes to make sure we got tickets and could be seated together. It was a great preview of how students take care of each other.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Michigan Ross (and why)?

I loved how the Multidisciplinary Action Project is built into the curriculum in the first year. It feels like I have the opportunity to do a second internship during my two years in business school. In addition to MAP, I am excited to apply for a student investment fund. One of the reasons I am interested in business school is to learn more about impact investing, and what better way to engage than participating in a fund myself.  

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? 

I hit a point in my career where I really wanted to take a step back, reflect, and learn about best practices regarding managing individuals, leading teams, and scaling up organizations. I also wanted to learn a new skill set that would serve me in the social sector: impact investing. Ross offered me a unique combination of learning the practical skill sets of an MBA with a really special cohort of students in the Consortium. After graduation, I’d like to work in the inclusive economy space whether at a foundation, consulting firm, or even an impact investing fund. My hope is to resource, support, and scale the businesses of entrepreneurs in historically underfunded neighborhoods, communities, and cities. 

Aurelio Alberto Muzaurieta

Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida

Undergraduate school/major: Harvard College, Romance languages and literature, and global health policy

Most recent employer and job title: Medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Michigan Ross’ MBA programming that led you to choose this business school, and why was it so important to you? 

Ross has one of the strongest healthcare programs in the country. From health economics and policy to medical innovation and health systems design, Ross has leaders across all healthcare fields. Opportunities to take phenomenal courses, conduct research with world-class professors, and connect with industry leaders are innumerable. What’s more, Ross belongs to the greater University of Michigan, which boasts top-ranked programs in medicine, public health, law, and more. 

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Michigan Ross (and why)?

The Business of Biology course is historically one of the most insightful and well-taught healthcare-related electives at Ross. The course is taught by multidisciplinary faculty from the schools of medicine, law, public health, and business. I am most excited about this course as it promises to deepen my understanding of advancements in life sciences and how they are being delivered to patients. As a medical student and future physician, I am excited to consider the clinical applications of such advancements with my colleagues from other disciplines. 

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far.

As a student at U-M’s Medical School, I founded and currently lead a student organization called UM-PKU Student Health Initiative, a collaborative partnership between medical students and trainees at Michigan Medicine and Peking University Health Science Center in Beijing, China. Our mission is to prepare future physician leaders and champions of global health equity for the 21st century by offering opportunities for American and Chinese students and trainees to engage, collaborate, and connect with one another. I am particularly proud of this program in the face of growing geopolitical tensions between the United States and China. The UM-PKU Health Initiative breaks political barriers to increase mutual understanding and collaboration between our nations in the name of better health for all.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? 

As a current MD student working with patients every day, I am learning firsthand where our healthcare system works well for patients, and where it is faltering. I strongly believe principles that drive successful businesses are the key to improving access to and efficiency in healthcare not only in the United States but globally as well. For me, pursuing an MD/MBA dual degree is about achieving both breadth and depth in the healthcare field. In the future, I hope to both practice medicine and lead initiatives in the healthcare industry that improve population health. 

Oyepeju Ogundipe

Hometown: Ilora, Oyo State, Nigeria

Undergraduate school/major: University of Lagos, Bachelor of Pharmacy; University College London, Master of Science Global Health and Development

Most recent employer and job title: 54gene, senior clinical research associate 

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Michigan Ross’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school, and why was it so important to you? 

I chose the Ross MBA for four reasons: Healthcare concentration in the curriculum; emphasis on experiential learning; collaborative community; and centers of excellence (e.g., Sanger Leadership Center, William Davidson Institute). I will elaborate on the most distinctive feature of Ross: its emphasis on experiential learning. I believe in learning through experience, so tackling a real-world business challenge as a student will be an exciting experience for me. From my conversations with current students, the Multidisciplinary Action Project is the highlight of their experience. MAPs are available in a wide range of industries and functions. 

What has been your first impression of the Ross MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far? Tell us your best Ross story so far.

Genuinely willing to help and see you succeed. I contacted an alum on LinkedIn who is a senior executive at a global pharmaceutical company for an informational interview. I did not receive an immediate response, but when I did receive one a week later, the alum shared their cell phone number without prompting for more swift communication. That felt very trusting, and it went a long way toward demonstrating the Ross supportive community, especially coming from an alum who graduated over 10 years ago. It has been my best Ross story so far!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far.

While on the Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services Project, my responsibility was to ensure that 90% of people living with HIV/AIDS who knew their HIV-positive status were on treatment. The target was consistent with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS 90-90-90 goal to end the HIV epidemic. In Cross-River State, Nigeria, I oversaw the implementation of strategies to improve HIV therapy uptake, eliminate barriers to uptake, and improve adherence to therapy in eight healthcare facilities. Within four months, these strategies increased retention in therapy by 50%, exceeding the 90% target. It was a rewarding experience to help people living with HIV/AIDS gain unrestricted access to treatment.

When you think of the Michigan Ross MBA Program, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? 

Leadership. Ross has established itself as a leader in action-based learning across business schools. Ross was the first to provide students with various opportunities to learn by doing. These opportunities range from including MAP in the core curriculum to creating the world's first student-led investment fund.

Kaio Jara Faria

Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil 

Undergraduate school/major: Universidade Federal do Paraná (Brazil), civil engineering

Most recent employer and job title: Santander Peru – Surgir Santander Microfinanzas, strategy, products, and marketing manager

What has been your first impression of the Ross MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far? Tell us your best Ross story so far.

After receiving my Ross offer, I was contacted by a member of the Ross School Advisory Board. He was an incredibly accomplished senior alumni (MBA ’83), someone I would never get close to if it wasn’t for Ross. We had a longer than one-hour talk about Ross, and about career, personal and professional life. He gave me advice that really resonated with me. His wisdom was impressive. It was one of those memorable conversations one has in life. 

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Michigan Ross (and why)?

MAP. It was one of the reasons that led me to applying to Ross. I’m a strong believer in learning by doing, and the range of options of projects that are available for students to choose is just incredible. Also, I won’t lie that I look forward to living the University of Michigan community experience. I can’t wait to live a game-day experience from inside the stadium. I think few schools are able to provide such a strong community environment.

When you think of the Michigan Ross MBA program, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? 

Collaborative. In every single contact I had – alumni, students, teachers, admissions staff – I felt a genuine interest in hearing my story, connecting to me, and wanting to help/guide me through my journey. Even before applying to Ross, I already felt welcomed by the community.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far.

In November 2020, I moved from Brazil to Peru to lead the creation of a microfinance bank from scratch. The company (Surgir Santander Microfinanzas) gave its first loan in July 2021, and so far, has helped more than 50,000 micro- and small entrepreneurs in Peru.

It was a challenge for me in every aspect: Learning a new language, adapting to a different culture, while being in a formal leadership position for the first time. I’m extremely proud of my own personal and professional growth, and even more proud of the impact Surgir has been making in Peru.

Mike Sheehan

Hometown: Cork City, Republic of Ireland

Undergraduate school/major: University College Cork, neuroscience

Most recent employer and job title: CEO/founder, Milis Bio

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Michigan Ross’ MBA programming that led you to choose this business school, and why was it so important to you? 

As an entrepreneur I’m used to learning by doing, so the MAP project stood out to me as an amazing opportunity to exercise new skills in real, dynamic business environments and gain meaningful insight into an industry and country. It also demonstrated to me how sincere Michigan Ross’ intent to innovate and lead among MBA programs was.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far.

Leading Milis Bio through the COVID-19 crisis. At the start of February 2020, I was polishing a pitch for SXSW. Three months later the conference had been canceled, but I had raised bridge capital from our investors; revised and communicated new expectations to our team, partners, and shareholders; and ensured that our team was going to be looked after during the ongoing lockdown. When I had a chance to reflect on this, I was proud of how far I’d come since founding the company with zero business experience.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point, and what do you hope to do after graduation?

Entrepreneurship was an ideal fast track learning experience for a Bachelor of Science graduate taking on a CEO role, both for picking up new skills quickly and in highlighting exactly what I lacked. An MBA can fill in these gaps and more. After graduation, I’m interested in pursuing a role such as in consulting, where I can apply what I've learned and continue to sharpen my skillset. 

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Michigan Ross’ MBA Program? 

Connect with students and alumni. They are welcoming, enthusiastic, and down-to-earth; the kind of people you would want to work alongside and a community you would love to be a part of. 

Michelle Benedict

Hometown: San Francisco, California

Undergraduate school/major: San Francisco State University; Business Administration, Integrated Marketing

Most recent employer/job title: Apple Inc., Engineering Project Manager in Applied Machine Learning 

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation?

I believe that technology and medicine both have the power to widen or close the chasm between those with access and means and those without. The difference between which direction society moves toward is due in large part to leaders in multiple industries who consider such challenges thoughtfully and bring others onboard in a way that is financially, environmentally, and humanistically scalable. My passion is around increasing global access and education in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery. From my time at Apple through my current medical research in eXtended Reality (XR) applications in surgery, my undergraduate business acumen has been crucial to adding value to teams thus far. As I near graduation from medical school, the pursuit of this higher education and aligned network of the MBA program will help me achieve my broader goals in healthcare equity and innovation.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Michigan Ross’ MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? 

I chose the University of Michigan because of the aligned values I could feel from every interaction with this institution (both at the medical school and business school). Specifically, Michigan represents to me three things: Valuing diverse experiences/perspectives even (especially) when it challenges the status quo; inclusivity to believe that everyone in a society has value and should be treated with respect; and an action-oriented approach that is less concerned with titles and rankings and more impressed by the caliber of thought and concern for missions larger than self. 

When you think of the Michigan Ross MBA Program, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? 

Energy. Everyone I’ve interacted with and been in shared spaces with is so excited to be here and a part of this learning journey. I think good energy is contagious and paramount to people doing their best, most creative work. I’m excited to get to contribute to that kind of community.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Michigan Ross’ MBA Program? 

I would absolutely reach out to mentors, both near and further out from where I am in my journey. Trusted advisors can make a huge difference in demystifying a path you’ve never traveled before and giving you the courage to traverse something new. And then, of course, turn around and help the next person in line. I wrote a blog several years ago for U-M about the decision to pursue graduate education as a “non-traditional” student. I still get many LinkedIn messages referencing this blog and asking for mentorship and ongoing guidance on the process, which I have been so happy to provide. It is one of the greatest joys to give to others what many mentors have been so generous to offer me.

Archana Kandasamy

Hometown: Tamilnadu, India

Undergraduate school/major: Anna University, electrical engineering

Most recent employer/job title: Indian Air Force (Military)

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation?

After a decade of service, I was transitioning out of the military. While I sharpened my leadership and people skills in the military, I wanted to complement that experience with foundations of business and how different pillars of business influence the decisions made in the industry. Business school was the perfect place to start my corporate journey. 

I am considering consulting as my post-MBA career path to maximize my exposure in different industries before I find my calling. At the intersection of problem solving and constantly changing projects, I believe I find my interest and expertise in consulting. 

What was the key part of Michigan Ross’ MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you?

I come from an industry where camaraderie is the most important virtue of all. When I made the list of schools to apply, Ross stood out for me for this very reason. I had enormous support from the clubs and current students who invested themselves in my success. I wanted this close-knit community whom I can rely on not only during my MBA but also for a lifetime. Another factor which attracted me was the action-learning method. Ross truly embraces this by reinforcing in different levels through MAP and REAL offerings where students invest funds (REAL INVEST), launch their business ideas (REAL START), etc.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?

I believe the most valuable contribution is my experience of leading a combat unit as flight commander. As a young squadron leader, I was responsible for over 60 military personnel. That experience taught me the true meaning of what it is to be a leader rather than just being their superior officer. My position demanded me to perform different roles of being an administrator, engineer, strategist, human resource officer, and career development lead for my unit all at the same time, along with my main role of a combatant. I would like to contribute these unique learnings from my life in the military to the Class of 2024.

What is your initial impression of the Michigan Ross students/culture/community?

It was (and is) overwhelming to see that the community is always willing and available to help you from the smallest of my problems to the largest. Now that I am a student here, I am eagerly waiting to pass it down to the next generation of students who are looking for it. It's more of a culture than a process here at Ross.

Explore the Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA Class of 2024 Class Profile