Meet Three Members of The 2023-2024 Ross Leaders Academy Cohort

by | Dec 6, 2023 | Ross Leaders Academy, Student Blog, Sanger News

The Ross Leaders Academy (RLA), powered by the Sanger Leadership Center, and sponsored by the Deloitte Foundation, is a year-long leadership development program open to students from across the University of Michigan. During the program, fellows collaborate with their peers, receive 1:1 and group coaching, and engage with 30+ years of robust research advanced by U-M’s innovative faculty. RLA is Sanger’s only application-based program, drawing in over 180 applications this year alone.

The 2023–2024 RLA cohort consists of 48 fellows from 7 schools and colleges. Three of these individuals shared why they applied to RLA and what they hope to gain from the program.

Matt Alrutz

Matt Alrutz

(He/Him), MBA '25

Sam Lilly

Sam Lilly

(They/Elle), MPH '25

Arya Sunil

Arya Sunil

(He/Him), BS '25

Why did you apply for RLA?

Matt: I applied to RLA for the opportunity to pursue intentional, guided leadership development with highly qualified coaches. Prior to Ross, I wasn’t getting the direct development and coaching that I wanted. I also experienced the pain of working with leaders who hadn’t taken the time to develop their leadership skills. One of my main goals for the MBA was to intentionally develop myself as a leader, and I felt that the biweekly group sessions and personalized leadership coaching offered by RLA could provide me with the guidance I had been looking for.

Sam: I applied to RLA to supplement my Master of Public Health with intentional leadership development. Throughout my life, I have found myself in, and stumbled upon, positions of leadership that have molded me into the person I am today here in Ann Arbor. Indeed, it is this identity as a leader that is by far the most salient and important to me as both a professional and a person.

Arya: I applied to RLA because I wanted to experience and learn with a community of like-minded people, who care about personal growth. I have always been fascinated with self-growth and improvement, as well as how personal philosophies are shared and differ among people. Additionally, I wanted to learn from people who were far better than me in their respective fields! I’ve already met MBA, medical, and master’s students from all different backgrounds. As an undergraduate student, meeting them has provided invaluable experience and mentors to learn with and from. 

What are your anticipated goals from RLA, and in what ways do you plan to implement the knowledge gained from the program?

Matt: RLA offers training and coaching for both self- and interpersonal-leadership development. My goals for self-leadership include refining my values and purpose through guided introspection. This will help me set a clear vision and execution roadmap for my teams, critical elements of interpersonal leadership. Next, I plan to use RLA’s focus on inclusive leadership to enhance my team-building skills. This will be helpful to effectively guide and motivate a diverse, cross-functional team in a large organization. After graduating, I plan to return to my role in consulting, where these skills will be critical to leading teams across a variety of projects.

Sam: I remain open to the unanticipated opportunities that being a fellow of RLA will present to me—and I want to name that here, first and foremost. However, my anticipated goal is to leave RLA with a newfound confidence and dynamism in my identity as a leader. 

Arya: One of my aspirations coming into RLA was to be able to emulate one of my role models. I want to be able to bring my traits and strengths into my leadership style. I want to fuse my personality into a leadership style that is unique to me, and that I can utilize and adapt to the situation at hand since it’s as malleable as I am willing to be. On a more self-learning side, I want to be more intentional with the way I live my life, and want to better define my values and live in accordance with them. I think this will make me happier overall as a person as well as a better leader in the future. 

Which additional opportunities have you participated in, are currently engaged in, or are intending to pursue that align with the skills and knowledge developed through RLA?

Matt: I am actively applying the lessons learned from RLA in my extracurricular activities at Ross. As part of the Detroit Initiative at Ross, I’m a team lead for a nonprofit consulting project. RLA has helped me clarify and apply my values (giving, growing, learning) to the work we do on the team. I’ve also learned to be more intentional and empathetic with my teammates through RLA, helping us come together as a team and deliver better results to our sponsor.

Sam: I would like to take a moment here to honor 8-year-old Sam, who was nominated to be captain of their soccer team. It was that moment when I really began to understand and see myself as a person with a capacity for leadership. At this moment, I am intentionally dedicating my time to my leadership development rather than seeking out leadership experience (although self-leadership is a practice, not a skill). However, it is my intention with my Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship to expand my leadership and collaboration potential into a third language, Brazilian Portuguese. 

Arya: I am an Eagle Scout, and a large part of my time right now is devoted to volleyball. As my main two activities, these will end up benefiting the most from my time in RLA. I am always working on developing my leadership style and effectiveness as a scout, and I am excited to teach the new generation!