This Semester, Michigan Ross Students Have Been Teaching Leadership Lessons in a Detroit High School


At Cornerstone Leadership & Business Private High School in Detroit, students like freshman Iymari Sanford and Kennedie Ross are never bored. They juggle the demands of a rigorous college-prep curriculum and numerous extracurricular activities, all the while trying to maintain the social life of your typical Gen Z teenager. For Sanford and Ross, they don’t mind the hustle and bustle — in fact, they thrive on it.

Their latest activity is part of a course co-taught by 12 MAcc students, focused on helping Sanford, Ross and their classmates learn important leadership skills.

The course, Profiles in Leadership, is part of a partnership launched this fall between the Michigan Ross MAcc Program, the Sanger Leadership Center, Deloitte, and Cornerstone. It uses the Michigan Model of Leadership to teach 10th and 12th graders about leadership styles and dynamics. It kicked off this fall with a 90-minute workshop developed by the Sanger Center.

For Cassie Hoffman, MAcc ‘18, the workshop is bigger than a one-time meetup. It’s an illustration of how impactful the relationship between Ross and the City of Detroit can be.

“It’s just one more connector between us and a great way for Michigan to use the resources we have and bring them to the community and vice versa,” said Hoffman, who serves as Ross’ MAcc Philanthropy Committee Chair and assisted in facilitating the workshop. “I’m always so inspired by all the students and their ideas on leadership are just great. It’s really cool to connect in a meaningful way and work together.”

A focal point of that work together, and the remainder of the course this year, is the Hometown Heroes Project, a semester-long assignment that helps students solidify their understanding of leadership and how they can be successful. They will apply their learning and create posters that examine an inspiring, Detroit-based leader, culminating in a showcase at Michigan Ross this spring where Cornerstone students will present those heroes to the community.

In preparation for the showcase, more than 60 students have been busy exploring four types of leadership styles—explorer, builder, connector, and warrior—and participating in a breakout session to determine which styles best describe them.

“I’m an explorer,” said Sanford. “I have new ideas and like to come up with creative things and think outside of the box.”

As a member of her school’s journalism club, homecoming committee, and hospitality committee, Sanford believes the workshop helped sharpen her leadership skills.

“Figuring out the type of leader you are, whether you’re a builder or a competitor, can help you in the future,” she said. “I need to improve my skills in learning how to work with other people. I like working in groups, but only with people I know. This helped me see some things I could work on.”

Ross agreed. She serves as junior editor of the school’s newspaper and on the homecoming committee, and sees the workshop as a valuable tool.

“It’s good for people to learn about themselves and how to interact with other people,” said Ross. “I’m an explorer and a connector and I want to find ways to strengthen and build partnerships. This is a great project.”