By: Lynn Chou, MM ’19

1. Because Investing in Your Personal Growth Starts Now.
There are 1,440 minutes in a day. If you’re anything like me, those minutes are mostly spent on daily tasks, classes, sleeping, and, realistically, watching too much Netflix. But what about core values? Personal goals? Life purpose? Meh, we’ll get around to it tomorrow. But then “tomorrow” turns into “someday” and “someday” maybe never happens. After all, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be growth. You often hear people saying that they wish they had started investing in the stock market earlier. Investing in yourself is no different. Through the Ross Leaders Academy (RLA), you will explore topics such as empathy, life purpose, navigating ambiguity, moments of resonance and dissonance, envisioning future paths, etc. These mini lessons are helpful for connecting your values to your actions, which translates to being more successful and intentional in your job search, education, and personal life. So I challenge you to make space in your life and prioritize personal growth through RLA. “Someday” starts now!

2. Because Embracing Diverse Perspectives is a Privilege.
Growing up, many of us gravitated towards people who looked like us, talked like us, and believed the same things we did. Sometimes it was due to choice, but often, it was because our environment didn’t have the same level of diversity we’re lucky to have at U-M. It’s rare to find a perfect microcosm of U-M’s population, but RLA is exactly that. We’re a group of 50 students across 11 different colleges, who have diverse ethnic backgrounds, different socioeconomic statuses, and wildly different beliefs. We are different in every way, yet somehow similar in our drive to impact the world through leadership. To have the opportunity to embrace diverse perspectives and achieve personal growth with an exceptionally eclectic cohort is truly a privilege.

3. Because Confronting Tough Topics Builds Resilience.
What do you get when you cross taboo dinner table topics with a group of intelligent and inspiring people? RLA. The most unique part of RLA was having a space to be vulnerable and talk about difficult subjects in a respectful manner. Leadership is often understood in the context of each individual’s personal experience in life. This means discussing potentially uncomfortable subject matters that we normally wouldn’t discuss in the Starbucks line, the classroom, or Ricks. Rather than shying away from sensitive topics (tough personal life events, politics, religion, failures), RLA encouraged us to be courageous and push on those moments of discomfort in order to be resilient leaders who can adapt to different opinions. Not everyone you cross paths with daily wants to be challenged in this way, so this is an immensely valuable opportunity.

4. Because Nobody Really Knows How to Define “Leaders and Best.”
As University of Michigan students, we are always told to be the “leaders and best.” Over the years, I, like many of my peers, often mistook leadership as something defined by the number of roles we held in extracurricular organizations. After being a part of RLA, I’ve developed a better understanding of my own leadership style, the specific impact I want to make in my community, and ways in which I can be a more thoughtful and effective team member to others. Most importantly, I’ve learned that “leaders and best” is just as much about yourself as it is about the team standing next to you when it’s time to lead. Those whom I’ve met in RLA are the ones I want standing with me – I consider them to be lifelong friends, teammates, and, unwaveringly, my biggest supporters.


The Ross Leaders Academy is open to all U-M graduate students, juniors, and seniors. Applications are due annually in September. The program runs from October through April during the academic year.

Lynn Chou
Lynn Chou, MM 2019
Lynn was a Ross Leaders Academy (RLA) fellow in 2018-2019.

After being a part of RLA, I’ve developed a better understanding of my own leadership style, the specific impact I want to make in my community, and ways in which I can be a more thoughtful and effective team member to others.

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