2019 Best & Brightest: Chelsea Racelis, University of Michigan (Ross)

Chelsea Racelis

Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

I’ve got a mind, heart, and spirit that won’t rest; I’m never satisfied, always grateful.”

Fun fact about yourself: This year my roommate and I started something we call Living Room Live; it started as a joke but now we convert our living room into a theater once a month to host friends for a night of storytelling, poetry, rants, and lots of laughs!

Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan

High School: Pioneer High School

Major: Dual degree in Business Administration and International Studies

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: STRATEGY 411 – The Corporation in Society

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Founder, Peer Facilitation Program for Identity and Diversity in Organizations (IDO)
  • Research Assistant, Dr. Ravi Anupindi & President’s Advisory Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights
  • S. National Winner, KPMG International Case Competition 2016
  • President, Michigan Undergraduate Consulting Conference 2016
  • Project Manager/Senior Project Advisor, Nexecon Consulting Group
  • Co-Organizer, Black-Asian Coalition
  • Campus Liaison, Asian and Pacific Islander American – Vote Michigan
  • Member, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Student Advisory Board
  • Peer Educator, U-M Educational Theatre Company

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Senior Year – Fellow, Humanity in Action Fellowship, Warsaw, Poland
  • Junior Year – Business Advisory Program Intern, EY, Chicago, IL
  • Sophomore Year – Summer Orientation Actor, UM Educational Theatre Company, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Freshman Year – Marketing Specialist, Stridepost, Ann Arbor, MI

Where will you be working after graduation? I’m still finalizing my plan, but my ultimate goal is to work in human rights. So experience abroad is definitely in the 5-year plan!

What company do you admire most? The company I admire most is my mom’s. She started her business with a tax refund in 2004 so that my family could have greater financial stability. Since then, she has grown it into a million-dollar business. Her beauty product has been featured on QVC and Rachael Ray and sold at Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. Watching my mom run this one-woman show while raising kids has taught me more about business than any case study ever could.

Who is your favorite professor? Derek Harmon is my favorite professor at Ross; he was one of the first professors who really made an effort to get to know me as a person. He cares deeply about inclusive teaching and sees his students as collaborators – I’ve always felt like he values my opinion. He’s super intelligent, and not just about topics in his silo; I learn something new every time we talk. He also has the cutest dog ever – follow Chloe’s dogstagram  @chloe_thevizsla!

What did you enjoy most about your business school? I really enjoyed finding other people who wanted to push the boundaries. Our school has transformed so much since I walked in as a freshman, and it’s because of the students, faculty, and staff who took initiative to change it. We still have work to do, but Ross is a more inclusive, equitable, and positive environment that it was four years ago.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? I’ll be the first to admit that I really struggled my first few years in business school; despite being “good” at business on the surface, I wasn’t happy and felt like I didn’t fit in. I found my community eventually, but the biggest lesson was learning to accept my own path. No one can validate your path but you; business is what you make of it, it’s a tool you can use in so many ways. I decided to use the organized, solution-oriented mindset of business as a tool for social change. What you use it for is up to you!

What has surprised you most about majoring in business?  This is definitely my fault, but I’d always assumed business would be pretty dry. However, I’ve been delightfully surprised by my professors’ unique interests and backgrounds. I had a professor in Technology & Operations who worked on the supply chain of disaster aid in the Philippines; another who studies the benefits of gratitude in the workplace; and another who designed a software program to identify properties with lead pipes in Flint.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…Public policy or sociology. I’m already pairing my business degree with a degree in international studies, so if I didn’t do business I think public policy or sociology would be a perfect complement to my human rights interest.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? This may be out of left field, but the late statistician Hans Rosling most influenced my decision to pursue business in college. I’ve watched all of his TED Talks on global poverty and inequality more than once (check them out!), and they sparked my interest in social enterprise beginning in high school. Using business as a vehicle for social good is why I ultimately applied to business school once I got to U-M.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of founding the Peer Facilitation Program for Identity and Diversity in Organizations (IDO). IDO is a milestone requirement at Ross where business students must take a workshop each year focused on topics of social identity, inclusion, and empathy. With the help of some really special people – Stephanie Pawlik, Mari Longmire, Tala Taleb, and Shannon Van Gundy to name a few – I built this program from one student-facilitated workshop to a crew of 18 paid student facilitators leading all of the sophomore and junior year workshops (that’s over 700 students every year!). I really believe in the power of peer-led dialogue, and I couldn’t be more proud that it is now part of my business school’s curriculum.

Which classmate do you most admire? I most admire Tala Taleb for her compassionate leadership and energy. She does incredible work mentoring younger students – one of her students told me they went to accounting tutoring just to hang out with her! She brings students into the fold who might otherwise be overlooked or underestimated. Tala embodies the responsibility to “lift as you climb,” always thinking about how she can use her success and talents to help others achieve their potential. In everything she does, Tala makes people feel seen, which is a quality I really aspire to.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Of course, I most want to thank my parents for my success. Since I was young, they instilled in me high expectations of myself, which made me feel like I could do anything. They never stopped me from pursuing what I cared about,but pushed me to have a plan and prove I could carry it through.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Solo traveling abroad (my favorite thing is people-watching at cafés, with no agenda to stick to)
  • Become fluent in another language (I’m learning Chinese and Tagalog!)

What are your hobbies? I do writing and storytelling for fun, but in my free time, I mostly watch TED Talks!

What made Chelsea such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Chelsea is a student who has made the most of her time in college, using the resources of the Ross School of Business and larger university to pursue her interest in the intersection of business and international human rights. She is a leader in the diversity and inclusion work being done within Ross and is one of the founding members of the Identity and Diversity in Organizations Milestone Peer Facilitation group. Chelsea is not only among the best and brightest students I have worked with, she is also someone who brings out the best in others. She fearlessly challenges assumptions and pushes her community to be better all while bringing people in and forming a sense of community among her peers. As much as I will miss Chelsea, I am excited to see her put her degrees in business and international studies into action in the world once she graduates.”

Katrina Vegter
Director of Undergraduate Advising
Ross School of Business

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