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Real Humans of the Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2024

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michigan mba classAshley Grossman, Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2024

Age: 29
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Stanford University – Science Technology & Society, Psychology Minor
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 7 years – Sales, finance, and  professional sports

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Like many, the pandemic allowed me to pause and reflect on what I wanted from life. My love of water polo, beyond the sport itself, lay in bringing individuals together to accomplish a shared goal and finding the best way of reaching that goal. While playing and coaching water polo provided these, I realized that I wanted to combine these passions with a career providing a more direct impact to others. Business school would help me accomplish those things while further strengthening my leadership abilities.

Why did you choose Michigan Ross? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
In conversations with current students and alums, I learned that Ross is a highly collaborative and supportive community where members push each other to reach their fullest potential. This approach to learning strongly resonates with me as it is the same environment that I have purposefully built in each of my own teams, both in the pool and in the office. I have always appreciated feedback and encouragement from coaches and bosses, but also from teammates and coworkers. When a water polo tournament in China coincided with my Stanford graduation, my teammates conducted a ceremony just for me, complete with my water polo robe and cap as my “cap and gown”. A balance of supporting others in their achievements while having the freedom to pursue what I am passionate about is what deeply attracted me to Ross.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
I am a leader in all facets of life. I broke my leg as a kid, and couldn’t go outside for recess, so I convinced my entire class to stay inside while I pretended to read to them. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to build a team and motivate them to achieve a goal from both my time as an athlete and in the corporate world. I sincerely believe that my purpose in life is to help others, whether that be in the water, classroom, or office, and my multifaceted perspective and leadership toolkit will allow me to contribute meaningfully to the development of other Ross students. 

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I like paying the bill for the car behind me in the drive-thru. One time, this ignited a ripple effect – customers paid for the car behind them for over six hours and the story made the news! I hope that doing this is a fun surprise and makes their day a little bit better. I think we should all do small things like that for each other! 

Post-MBA career interests:
Investment Banking, Asset Management

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Talk to current or former MBA students about their mistakes, oversights, successes, and recommendations! While it was most beneficial talking to Ross students, since I’m here now, every conversation was valuable in its own way. I even asked some of the people I talked with to review my essays, and that was wonderfully helpful.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
Something I would do differently would be to have more confidence in myself and how my experience as an athlete translates to the business world. At first, I didn’t apply to schools like Ross because I thought they wouldn’t value my time in the pool because it wasn’t in the office. I chose to overcome my fear, applied, and now I’m here!

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I would have skipped taking the GMAT and GRE because they are no longer required by all programs. That being said, they were still valuable. I pushed myself to take them seriously and study hard by approaching the tests as an opportunity to re-learn materials from high school and better prepare for the exams I would face once I got to school.

What is your initial impression of the Michigan Ross students/culture/community?
My initial impression of the Ross community is that it is exactly what I thought it would be. There were no tricks or false impressions given. The students, faculty, and staff at Ross are the authentically down-to-earth, hardworking, and supportive people they claimed to be.

What is one thing you have learned about Michigan Ross that has surprised you?
I think that I need more time to get to know Ross. Classes have only just started, and I think we’re all still finding our feet a little bit. Everything is new and exciting and so it’s hard to pick just one thing that has surprised me. Ask me again for next year’s Real Humans: MBA Students issue! I’m sure I’ll have a handful of answers by then!

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I have no idea how I’m going to find enough time to do all that I want and need to do. I’ve spent the last week getting to know Ann Arbor, but there’s still so much to see and so many restaurants to try! As for daily life, I’ll have to really utilize my organizational skills to make sure I can get to know new people, study for my classes, prepare for interviews, and somehow use whatever leftover time there is for myself!

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am most excited to be back in the classroom! I have really fond memories of sitting in class surrounded by smart and interesting people who are so happy to talk about so many different things, and I know I will experience that at Ross. I look forward to getting to know the smart and interesting people in my cohort at Ross, collaborating on projects, discussing new topics, and challenging each other in new and interesting ways.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.