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The First Year of Business School Is Tough, But Here’s How I Thrived


By Alexandra Espinoza De Franco, MBA ’17

I’m going to be honest, my first year at Ross was more challenging than I expected.

Between getting back to the school life grind of homework and tests, attending dozens of recruiting events to find a good fit for a summer internship, participating in extracurricular activities, and enjoying social events with friends – oh, and I almost forgot sleeping – my first year of Ross truly was a transition year.

However, when I reflect on the first year of my MBA, I don’t think of how difficult statistics was or all the complex analysis required in the operations simulation. Instead, I think of Aditya Merchant, who powered through statistics office hours with me.

I think of Professor Beil, who called me on a Friday afternoon to make sure I had gotten all of my operations questions answered.

I think of Allison Kwan and Laura Florez, who patiently helped me through economics and accounting problem sets, respectively.

Me and Holly Price

I think of Holly Price, who inspired me and many others with her entrepreneurial successes.

I think of all of the interactions I had with Rossers before I even set foot in a classroom. During Ross’s admit weekend, Go Blue Rendezvous, Julia Samo welcomed me with a hug and later became a good friend.

Through an email introduction, I coincidentally met the only other Venezuelan at Ross, Erika Rubino, who immediately voluntold me to make arepas with her. At the end of my first year we made it happen and subsequently exposed 20 of our closest friends to Venezuelan culture through food.

During the summer before the MBA started, I was assigned an MBA2 buddy through The Consortium, which works to increase representation of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans in business and business education.

Making arepas

My buddy, Lily Hamburger, Jessica Covarrubias, and other Consortium fellows quickly became my mentors, as I navigated career decisions, classes, and adjusting to life in Michigan.

Though, what makes me most proud of being part of the Consortium is not just the additional community I get to be a part of, but that this community pushes tough conversations about diversity and engages fellow students, faculty, staff, and administration to continue increasing diversity at Ross.

I’m honored to be part of this organization that is not afraid to take on these difficult but necessary conversations, and even more honored to be part of a larger Ross community that is open to engaging in them.

There is no doubt that my friends and peers have shaped my experience at Ross. I only hope I have been able to shape some of theirs as well, even if it’s been mainly through food.

If there is one thing I hope incoming students can learn to expect their first year, it’s this: 

There will always be someone, or probably even a group of people, rooting for and supporting you.

I’ve laughed with all of the people above and others not listed and shared a few tears with them. But, most importantly, these people have challenged my thinking, helped me grow personally and professionally, and pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of.

There’s a lot of pride I get from being a Michigan Wolverine, and I’m always excited to celebrate that pride with this incredible Ross family.

Alexandra Espinoza De Franco is a student in the Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2017. She is a co-president of the Michigan Business Women (MBW) organization, Vice President of Education in the Hispanic Business Student Association, a member of the Consortium, and an avid foodie.

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