First Michigan Ross Summer Business Academy Makes Successful Pivot to An Impactful Online Program

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When the Ross School of Business announced the launch of Summer Business Academy last year, it was originally meant to be an immersive, two-week residential program designed to provide high school students with a unique opportunity to learn about and explore their interests in business. 

Although the residential program was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan Ross was still able to hold SBA virtually for more than 100 students over two Saturdays in June. 

SBA introduces rising high school seniors and select rising juniors to Michigan Ross and gives them an inside look into pursuing a business education in college. Applications to the program were encouraged from students from underrepresented backgrounds and students who have overcome social or economic hardship.

The inaugural SBA welcomed a range of participants from different backgrounds and geographic areas. Students joined the sessions remotely from all across the country.

Michigan Ross was able to successfully pivot SBA to a virtual setting by quickly adapting and creating meaningful sessions for students and their parents, who were able to participate due to the remote environment. 

 “Although I would have preferred to meet them in person at Ross, I am pleased that we were still able to hold Summer Business Academy remotely for interested participants,” said Norm Bishara, associate dean of Undergraduate Programs. “The virtual SBA sessions gave these motivated high school students the opportunity to engage with Michigan Ross faculty and BBA students.” 

The first session included welcoming remarks from Scott DeRue, Edward J. Frey Dean of Michigan Ross; a BBA student panel; a faculty panel; and a presentation about financial aid and admissions. During the Ross faculty panel, Bishara, Associate Dean of One-Year Master’s Programs David Wooten, Business Communications Professor Mary Hinesly, Strategy Lecturer Anuradha Nagarajan, and Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning and Associate Professor of Accounting Cathy Shakespeare all spoke to the high schoolers.

“I learned many things during the session, but what Dean Scott DeRue said really resonated with me,” said one student who watched the session. “He said that Ross views business as something that can better the world, which is something that I haven't heard during any other session. It really made me think about the extensive impact that business has on every aspect of life, rather than the typical surface-level aspects like money and consumption."

The second session provided participants who were accepted into SBA the opportunity to interact with current BBA students, faculty members, and each other. Students also participated in an artifact-sharing exercise, where they talked about something that’s important to them and why. This allowed the students to learn things about each other such as skills, hobbies, and even some business ideas they have.

In addition, students were able to learn from Hinesly, SBA faculty director, who led a business communication course. 

As a result, SBA was able to foster meaningful connections among participants even with the shift to online. Many other SBA participants and parents expressed that they enjoyed learning more about the University of Michigan and Michigan Ross directly from the faculty and BBAs, who could one day be their future classmates. 

“My favorite part of the virtual SBA sessions was having the opportunity to meet all the amazing and talented students in the program and hearing about their artifacts and talents,” said one participant.

Another said: “I am so grateful for having the virtual session. I have become friends with a few of the other students, which is crazy to think since we have not even met each other. Thank you so much for this incredible opportunity!” 

Learn more about Summer Business Academy