Real Humans of MBA Students: Michigan Ross Part-Time MBA Class of 2023

Shaylyn Stanley, Michigan Ross Weekend MBA Class of 2023

Age: 29
Hometown: Los Angeles, and currently live in Washington, DC
Undergraduate Institution and Major: UCLA, where I earned a B.S. in Psychobiology
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 6 years, International Development in the Public and Social Sectors

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I made the decision to attend business school to complement my existing experiences and skills in core areas that would allow me to make a greater impact on my organization, particularly in finance, marketing, and operations. Additionally, strengthening my understanding in these core areas will not only allow me to develop stronger nonprofit best practices, but—alongside gaining direct experience with other sectors—will also help me speak the language of other industries, adding to my ability to develop strong cross-sector partnerships.

Now was the perfect time to attend because of my gained work experiences and my current position. With two years in the Peace Corps and four years at international non-profits, I have a deep understanding of how these multinational organizations are run, challenges they face, and their role in the international development space. Further, in my current role, I am responsible for the design, strategy, and execution of a new unit for the organization. There are gaps in the skills I bring to this role, particularly around marketing and finance as well as room to grow as a leader, so the curriculum will nicely fill those gaps.

Why did you choose Michigan Ross? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I choose to attend Michigan Ross because the programs fit with my learning style, goals, and desired culture. Further, I wanted to stay in my current role and in the DC area, so I was looking for a program that would allow that flexibility.

Going into my school search, I knew that I learn best by doing, so Michigan’s action-based learning stood out to me as an important consideration and has since proven to make an impact on my ability to grasp new concepts. Ross also offers infinite opportunities to apply what we learn outside of the classroom whether through case competitions or MAP, something that was important to me coming from a less traditional background. I also knew that if I was investing two years into a community, I wanted a school with a lot of spirit, and I have not been disappointed! I’ve loved going to the Big House and wearing my new Ross swag with pride. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to your part-time MBA class?
I think my engagement in and understanding of international development issues and the non-profit sector brings diversity in the real-world examples I bring to class. From Managerial Accounting when discussing overhead and indirect costs to Marketing consulting projects when deciding how to engage with social media followers, I’m able to bring a different perspective that, when taken together with peers also from a variety of backgrounds, makes for really successful solutions.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I’m a classically trained pianist! I started playing the piano when I was four and began competing at 5, graduating from the Certificate of Merit, a national standardized curriculum for music student development, and winning several awards at regional and state levels. I played competitively until 18, and now enjoy it as a hobby.

Current job or Post-MBA career interests:
I currently work at Pathfinder International, an international sexual and reproductive health and rights organization as their Next Generation Engagement Officer where I do a combination of strategy, external engagement, and business development. Post-MBA I hope to continue to drive social impact, whether by advancing in my role at Pathfinder or pivoting to consulting or the private sector to advise their sustainability and impact initiatives.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Start exploring schools and attending school prospective student events early. Once applications open, you will be busier than you expect and doing research and having exploratory conversations early will make the application process go much more smoothly.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I probably would have applied to fewer schools. Having a focused list will ensure that you are applying to schools that really reflect your goals and learning style, and it will also make the application process much more manageable. It’s very easy to get worn down from essays and interviews, and you want to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward for each application.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I felt that I had to go to every event for the schools I liked, even if I felt confident that I understood why I wanted to attend and was ready for their application (or even already applied!). I probably would have skipped some of those last events. But, in the beginning of the process, they really helped me stay engaged and remember the connections I felt to the school. Staying very organized in the end is what really helped me get through it!

What is your initial impression of Michigan Ross’s students/culture/community?
My initial impression of the Ross community is exactly what I felt during the application process. It is made up of genuine and well-rounded leaders, eager to learn more on how they can lead more effectively, open to learn about positions, industries, and cultures that are different than those they already know, and are equally committed to their academics. My classmates are incredibly intelligent while also engaged outside of the classroom, and I know I’ve found a community where I can bring my authentic self.

What is one thing you have learned about Michigan Ross that has surprised you?
I have been surprised by how much the Ross community supports each other, though in hindsight I shouldn’t be! Especially over the summer when so many students were attending class virtually, there has always been someone willing to help if you need it, including both students and faculty. The community is there to help with concepts you don’t understand, giving you a ride to campus, or offering recommendations on how to maximize your time at Ross.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
COVID-19 made it challenging to visit campuses and connect with current students and faculty in real life, so it was much more important that I took out time to do additional research on my own and take advantage of the virtual opportunities schools put together to connect with the campus and community. That said, it also made it much more accessible because I was able to attend prospective weekends from home rather than flying across the country!

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Going into my first year, one of the things I was most anxious about was managing my time. Not only do I have to balance work and school, but I also want to take advantage of other learning opportunities, clubs, and events across campus. Now that I’m into my second semester, it’s becoming easier to reestablish my priorities so that I’m able to fully participate.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
The most exciting thing going into my first year and in the first few months has been to connect with the Michigan community. As I’m based in the DC area, establishing my Ann Arbor network was one of my first priorities. I’ve not only been able to form great connections with my classmates but I’ve also already seen how fantastic the Michigan community is across the US. I get stopped all the time with a “Go Blue!” no matter where I am.


About the Author

Lauren Wakal

Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.

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