2018 Best & Brightest: Kara Cendrowski, University of Michigan (Ross)


Kara Cendrowski

University of Michigan (Ross)

“Caring, charismatic, cheery, and courageous, but I promise my name starts with K, not C.”

Fun fact about yourself:  Before starting businesses school, I had only ever been out of the country once (to spend two hours in Canada). After graduation, I will be visiting my fourth continent!

Hometown: Rochester Hills, MI

High School: Rochester High School

Major: Business Administration

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: Accounting 312

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Freshmen Year

  • Student Ambassador, Office of Admissions
  • Member, Sigma Kappa Sorority
  • University Honors

Sophomore Year

  • Panhellenic Delegate, Sigma Kappa Sorority
  • Trek Participant, Och Initiative for Women In Finance

Junior Year

  • Junior Class Representative, BBA Council
  • Vice President of IT/Operations, Michigan Business Women
  • Tutor for Technology and Operations 300 Course
  • Student Representative, Ross Community Values Committee
  • Sobczak-Jones Family Scholarship, Recipient

Senior Year

  • Vice President of Leadership and Ethics, BBA Council
  • Vice President of IT/Operations, Michigan Business Women
  • Teaching Assistant for Entrepreneurial Studies 212 and Accounting 300 courses
  • Lead, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force

Where have you interned during your college career?

2015 Summer

  • Company: BEAM Product Innovation
  • Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Role: New Product Development Intern

2016 Summer

  • Company: Ecolab
  • Location: Sydney, Australia
  • Role: Finance Intern

2017 Summer

  • Company: Deloitte
  • Location: New York, New York
  • Role: Audit Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. as an Analyst in the Corporate Client Banking division.

Who is your favorite professor? Dr. Dave because he is “the world’s most dangerous accountant.” I’ll let your imagination figure out what that means.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? At most schools, I hear my friends say that they feel like a “number.” At Michigan Ross, I walk in the door and I immediately feel like I am being welcomed home. Whether it is being greeted every morning by Devon, the man who works at the front desk, or not being able to walk through the Winter Garden without waving to someone you know (no matter how bad of a hair day you may be having), I found that simply being in the Ross building inspires me to reach new heights to continue to build the community. This sense of community is what I enjoy most about being a Ross BBA student.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field?

Make personal connections! Only the basics of businesses can be taught from a textbook. So much of business revolves around connections that you make with your peers, professors, alumni, etc. If you have an interest in something, you can always leverage these connections to find out more and learn from their experiences.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…Education.”

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I had always envisioned the business world, and business school especially, to be a very cutthroat environment. To my surprise, my peers at the business school have become my best friends and biggest cheerleaders. I know that I will continue these friendships for years to come, and these people will be my support system both personally and professionally.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Growing up, I always admired my Aunt Maureen for the businesswomen she was, and over the years, she became the image of success to me. My Uncle (her husband) would always talk about how brilliant she was for graduating first in her class from the Ross School of Business. Naturally, my curious self took to the Internet to find out what this “Ross School of Business” was and how I could become a part of it so I could be like her. Still not fully comprehending what exactly business was, I applied, and fortunately, I was accepted to the business school at the University of Michigan. While you could say I was first interested in pursuing businesses because of her, once I began my studies, I learned that this was truly where my interests lie, and I am so thankful to have had this role model to guide me toward my passion. Although I may not live up to graduating first in my class, she is still to this day the person I hope to become.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my achievement of being accepted into the Ross School of Business because it marks a success after not only one, but two failures. At the time I applied, Ross was a three-year program in which approximately one-fifth of the class was accepted directly out of high school as a “pre admit.” Having excelled in high school, I thought I would be able to achieve this status as a “pre admit” with little trouble. However, this was not the case, as I promptly received a rejection letter following my application. Instead of giving up on my dream school, I came to campus freshman year, excelled in all of the recommended classes and joined clubs to help boost my application. But, on the day that everyone else received their acceptance letters to Ross after freshman year, I received a little known response from admissions telling me that I had been waitlisted. Again, I was crushed. Still, I knew that this community was where I wanted to be. Instead of sitting around and waiting to hear the news, I took the initiative to write a letter to Admissions, expanding on my previous application and vocalizing exactly why I would be an asset to the community. A couple of weeks after submitting this letter, I received the notification that I had (finally) been accepted to the Ross School of Business. This situation helped me to become resilient, and has also been my motivation every single day I walk into Ross to be the very best I can be to prove that I deserve to be there. Considering my school has nominated me for this award, I think it is safe to say that over these last three years, I have proven that I deserve to be a member of this community.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the business school? Dean DeRue, does an amazing job of creating a welcoming environment. However, if I were dean for a day, I would add an additional mentorship aspect to the BBA program. Currently, the Ross program is structured to create a strong sense of community within each individual year, but there is little interaction between years, outside of that provided from clubs. I would love to see a program created that encourages mentorship between different classes at Ross to help form an even stronger sense of community.

Which classmate do you most admire? During my time on the BBA Council, I have been honored to serve under the current President, Grace Nasr. Grace is the first president to lead following a structural change in the student government at the Ross School of Business. Her ability to define her role and take on so much more responsibility than originally required of the role inspires me every day to do my best. She is the most level-headed and mature student I know and a great role model of the leader I hope to become.

Who would you most want to thank for your success?As cliché as it sounds, I owe my success to my parents. I don’t even know where to begin thanking them for the support they have provided over the years. From a young age, they taught me to follow my dreams—no matter how crazy they may be. When I told them I wanted to go to a top business school, my dad took a week off of work to go on a road trip to visit the schools I was interested in to see which one was the best fit. Once at Michigan, when I decided I wanted to spend a summer working in Australia and then leave three months later to study aboard in London, they said, “Sounds great, can’t wait to visit you!” Whenever schoolwork or trying to decide my plans after graduation started to provide a high level of stress, they were there to support me. Because of my parents, I have been able to achieve more than I ever imagined possible and I am thankful for this everyday.

What would your theme song be? “I Lived” by OneRepublic would be my theme song. As I look back on my college experience and look forward to set goals for the future, I always keep that song in mind. The lyrics of this song focus on living your life to the fullest and that is how I aim to live every day.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Hike Machu Picchu
  • Inspire someone to follow their dreams

Favorite book: It changes based on whatever book I am reading this week…currently The Futures by Anna Pitoniak, but my all-time favorite books are the Harry Potter series.

Favorite movie: Notting Hill

Favorite vacation spot: Fiji

What are your hobbies?In my free time, I enjoy running, traveling and trying the local food of whatever city I am in.

What made Kara such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018?

“Kara has developed into a kind, caring and compassionate leader throughout her time at Ross. Kara’s extracurricular involvement has grown significantly and she now holds multiple leadership positions as well as a teaching assistant job for courses at Ross. As the VP of Leadership and Ethics for the BBA Council, she lends her experience to mentoring the Freshmen Representatives and also leads the newly created Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force. Kara has taken the initial idea of creating a task force and turned it in to a well-run and thought out community of students ready to get involved. Kara is a dedicated, hard worker with a kind disposition that makes others want to be around her. As her extracurricular leadership has grown, her high academic standard has not wavered. Kara is the type of student who takes time to review finals to ensure she understands the concepts even though it won’t impact her final grade.”

Stephanie Pawlik
Assistant Director of Undergraduate Student Life
Office of Undergraduate Programs
Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan 



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