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A Michigan Ross Outreach Program Was an Unforgettable Experience on My Journey to Business School as a First-Generation College Student


I will never forget the adrenaline that flew through me as I swung the front door entrance of the Ross building and found my way to the colloquium where I would start Day 2 of All-Access Weekend at the Ross School of Business.

Nicole Lopez, BBA '24

I was mesmerized by the sky-high ceilings and beaming sun shining down on what I soon learned was called the Winter Garden. I was captivated by the hundreds of faculty members, students, and organizations that filtered through. I rocked in my seat as we were going through today’s agenda, eagerly smiling as my ears heard the student panels, hands-on workshops, and faculty interactions that awaited, with my eyes drawn to the immense Michigan campus around  us. 

The day quickly transitioned into my 8:30 p.m. dinner at a banquet, sitting on the edge of my seat as I heard Marcus Collins’ testimony on his business career and how it translated to a role as a faculty member at Michigan Ross. The roar of applause when he finished his presentation got lost in the sea of my overwhelming thoughts, reflecting on the surreal learning experiences I was granted throughout the day: from having my first interaction in the investment world with Kai at the Tozzi center, to pitching an entrepreneurial venture with the Zell Lurie Institute, and being able to meet with fascinating students from all over the country alongside ambassadors who shared their Ross journey thus far with us.

An insider experience into life in business school

Ross’ All-Access Weekend gave me the opportunity to have a firsthand look at what it means to study business at Michigan Ross and explore the endless opportunities that are at reach for Ross BBAs. But above all, I was able to experience this unique opportunity with my parents. As a first-generation college student, this was the first time my family and I visited a college campus. Despite my parents not being proficient in English, the Ross faculty was extremely accommodating and ensured my parents felt supported the entire weekend. Although my parents were completely unfamiliar with the college system in the United States, I will never forget my mom’s excitement for me every single second of the program. Apart from me being annoyed as she took a picture of me every second she got, I was so grateful to live this experience with her, with both of us agreeing this is exactly where I needed to be.

I get chills writing about this experience two years later, being fortunate enough to work on this piece as a student here at Michigan Ross — now sitting in the Winter Garden collaborating on assignments with friends. In just a short amount of time, I have received so much support and have even been able to be mentored by faculty, older students, and student ambassadors I met during All-Access Weekend. 

The unique Michigan culture of giving it back and working together

The Michigan spirit is truly like no other, and the culture of giving back and working together with other students has allowed me to grow exponentially as a person and make lifelong connections. From being able to cheer at a stadium with over 100,000 people, to receiving an endless amount of professional development, to even being coached to receive my dream internship, my Ross experience has been nothing short of amazing. 

One of my favorite experiences so far has been the opportunity to be an Ross Outreach Ambassador and play an integral role in planning this year’s All-Access Weekend. Given the platform to voice my experience and suggest new ideas has been extremely rewarding, with faculty eager to work with me and implement new strategies. 

All-Access Weekend has such a special place in my heart, and has been life-changing toward my career trajectory, which makes being a mentor to bright and driven minority students one of the best jobs I could ask for.

Nicole Lopez, BBA '24

This year, I was able to initiate ongoing mentorship sessions with All-Access participants, meeting weekly after the program to be a vital support system in understanding the college application process and Michigan experience. I have been very lucky to connect with such incredible and accomplished high school students, having been impacted by them as much as I have impacted them. 

 I will never forget when Scott DeRue, the former dean of Michigan Ross, gave his talk during my time at All-Access Weekend. His immense credibility and humble persona conveyed the essence of his message: “Authoring your own story.” Ross has given me an unbounded amount of support and confidence that has paved the way for me to author my own story, granting me the mindset of using my minority status as an advantage, with its unique perspective, instead of a barrier. It has given me the power to pursue my dreams and make an impact in my community, no matter how small, with an incredible community of individuals. 

I hope I can be a small aid in empowering minority students who want to pursue business to chase despite other’s expectations, and cannot wait to keep working with the All-Access Weekend program throughout my time at Michigan and beyond.

Learn more about All-Access Weekend

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