Chelsea Racelis

Chelsea Racelis, BBA/BA '19

Making a Difference, On Campus and In the Future

Chelsea Racelis wants to have an impact on the world. And while her Michigan Ross education may help her do that, she’s already making an impact on the school while she’s here.

Growing up in Ann Arbor, Chelsea wasn’t sure she wanted to stay in town and go to college at the University of Michigan. But she came to realize that Michigan was the perfect place to combine her interest in international studies and human rights with a business education, all at a top-tier university.

Being an American team competing in a global competition was very eye-opening, because we had to adjust our perspective and approach for an international audience.

“It ended up being kind of a no-brainer,” she says now. “Being able to do human rights and international studies along with business, and try to find a bridge between the two, has been something that Michigan allowed me to do. I don’t know if I would have been able to do that at another university. There are just so many opportunities at Michigan.”

Among those opportunities: a Ross Global Initiatives class in Morocco, where she visited five cities to study international trade. “We got to talk to business leaders and economic leaders; government, nonprofits, and corporations. It was really a cool experience,” she says.

Another highlight was her participation in the prestigious KPMG Case Competition. After winning the local competition, her team went on to take first place in the country in the national round. And that meant a trip to Dubai to compete against students from 22 other countries in the global competition. “That experience is one I’m going to remember forever, because I’ve never been in a room with that many people from so many different backgrounds. Being an American team competing in a global competition was very eye-opening, because we had to adjust our perspective and approach for an international audience. That was an incredible opportunity.”

On campus, Chelsea has been putting her ideals into action by working with the Ross portion of the U-M Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion strategic plan, as well as designing and leading an identity workshop for first-year BBA students. “That’s how I’m sort of paying it forward,” she says. “I really take it upon myself to leave the university better than I found it. There are a lot of challenges in achieving some of these things, making everyone feeling included and safe in the Ross community and on the university campus as a whole.”

At this point, Chelsea’s post-graduation plans are somewhat up in the air: She hopes to pursue a graduate degree in public policy or law, ultimately using her degrees to leverage business to improve the world. “I want to use business skills to better our communities, wherever that may be,” she says. “I’ve become really interested in supply-chain ethics and sustainable sourcing, and that’s where I’ve found a really good crossover between business and human rights — thinking about how we can do business in a way that is sustainable for people’s livelihoods as well as being financially sustainable.”

Meanwhile, she’ll continue putting her principles into action at school. And she has a piece of advice for future students: “There are tons of opportunities here. It’s easy to get swept up in doing college the way that you think you should be doing it, or that it looks like everyone’s doing it, but I really encourage you to forge your own path. It’s OK to give yourself the time to explore other things.”