2024 Best & Brightest Business Major: Nicole Lopez, University of Michigan (Ross)

Nicole Lopez

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

“I’m an optimist, people-driven, and dance-driven; always embracing new opportunities while prioritizing paying it forward!”

Fun fact about yourself: I danced for Shakira (my idol) at the Super Bowl!

Hometown: Miami, Florida

High School: John A. Ferguson Senior High School

Major: Business Administration

Minor: Not Applicable

Favorite Business Course: TO 450: Business Intelligence and Data Visualization with Professors Kaveri Misra and Sanjeev Kumar remains one of my top business courses. Their teaching style truly set this class apart—completely reshaping my understanding of effective communication and audience engagement. Despite initially being intimidated by data analytics, the course proved to be transformative. Professors Misra and Kumar’s interactive approach made learning engaging and practical, focusing on real-world datasets and hands-on teamwork. Under their mentorship, I not only learned to navigate complex data but also gained a deeper appreciation for the power of data-driven storytelling and creating meaningful connections with the audience.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Extracurricular Activities: Delta Sigma Pi Professional Business Fraternity, Ross 1st Generation Network, Public Speaking @ Ross, Sanger Leadership Crisis Challenge, APEX Consulting Group, NOLS Ross Expedition

Leadership: Association of Latino Professionals for America (President & Senior Advisor), Kappa Kappa Gamma (Vice President of Organization)

Community Work: Pilar’s Tamales Board Member, Girls in Business Mentor, Mensajeros de Paz Volunteer

On-Campus Jobs: Business+Tech Program Lead, Career Development Coach + DEI Team, Alumni Association Student Employee, BBA Outreach Ambassador (Senior Standout & Team Spirit Award)

Scholarships: Sidney & Irene Shipman Scholarship, LEAD Scholarship, Mitchell Internship Fund, Mary Sue & Kenneth Coleman Global Experience, National ALPFA Scholar

Where have you interned during your college career?

McKinsey & Co Miami, First Year Summer Business Analyst McKinsey & Co Miami, Sophomore Summer Business Analyst

Mensajeros de Paz Buenos Aires, Michigan International Institute Fellow

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Co Miami, Business Analyst

Who is your favorite business professor? One of the standout professors I’ve had the pleasure of learning from at Ross is Professor Kevin Thompson, particularly in his course MO 330: InterMission. What made this class special wasn’t just its content—it was a journey of self-discovery and leadership.

Professor Thompson crafted InterMission to be more than your typical business course. It delved deep into personal purpose, leadership styles, and ethical decision-making. Through it, I found myself reflecting on my goals and values in ways I hadn’t before.

But what truly set Professor Thompson apart was his unwavering commitment to his students’ growth. Our culminating experience—a wilderness immersion in Utah’s Canyonlands—was a testament to his dedication. Despite my initial struggles, he never lost faith in me. With his guidance, I conquered both literal and figurative heights, discovering strengths I didn’t know I had.

Outside the classroom, Professor Thompson’s mentorship has been invaluable. Whether we were hiking in the canyons or on a coffee chat, his wisdom provided clarity in times of uncertainty. His impressive career journey—from founding the Corporate Service Corps at IBM to his current role at GOOD Worldwide—reminds me that meaningful success is rooted in purposeful leadership and service.

In Professor Thompson, I found more than just a teacher; he’s a mentor who continues to inspire me. His dedication to empowering students is unmatched, and I’m grateful for his guidance as I navigate my journey. Thank you, Professor Thompson, for helping me find my direction and instilling the confidence to pursue my goals with conviction.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Studying business has taught me that connecting with people matters most. Whether it’s working with teammates, helping clients, or leading a project, human interactions truly define our impact. I’ve learned such valuable lessons from people from all walks of my life. Their insights have shaped my growth, both professionally and personally. Business isn’t just about numbers and frameworks; it’s about building real relationships and understanding people. These connections have been the heart of my learning journey, and I’m truly grateful for the lessons they’ve taught me.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Embrace the wide-ranging possibilities that come with studying business. Let your curiosity guide you as you explore how business principles intersect with different disciplines. Keep an open mind—you’ll stumble upon opportunities you never knew existed.

Remember, success in business relies on relationships. Listen attentively, connect deeply, and lead with empathy. Understand the needs and aspirations of those around you. Aspire to be an empathetic leader, prioritizing integrity and compassion. Even the smallest acts of kindness can ripple outward, leaving a positive imprint on your journey. So, be enthusiastic to learn, absorb, and lead with heart—you’ll not only thrive academically but also leave a lasting mark in your community.”

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? What surprised me most about my business studies is realizing the sheer adaptability of the skills I acquired. From exploring marketing strategies and financial analysis to understanding economic principles and refining leadership abilities, every course has equipped me with tools that extend far beyond specific industries.

Whether it’s marketing, finance, economics, or data analytics, I’ve come to understand how these skills can seamlessly transfer to a variety of roles across different industries. It’s truly eye-opening to recognize that the knowledge I’m gaining isn’t confined to a single sector, but has the potential to make an impact in countless ways. Majoring in business has made opportunities seem boundless, and I feel incredibly lucky to have the chance to build a career that has so much potential and exciting roles!

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? Reflecting on my journey, if there’s one thing I’d do differently in business school, it would be to find a way to attend the Ross School of Business over-and-over again. The richness of opportunities, the depth of learning, and the sheer vibrancy of the community have made business school a life-changing experience. There’s just always so much more to be a part of – more courses, more speaker sessions, more action-learning challenges, and more student organization involvement. Despite having learned the hard lesson of having to say no and not spreading myself too thin, I wish I could have soaked up even more.

Still, I’m deeply grateful for the opportunities and organizations I’ve been part of. The teachers and mentors have been incredible guides, leaving a lasting impact on my journey. While there are things I’d do differently, I wouldn’t trade this transformative journey for anything. It’s prepared me for the infinite opportunities ahead, and I’m excited to see where it leads next.

Which academic, extracurricular, or personal achievement are you most proud of? Fostering and supporting a more diverse environment at the Ross School of Business has been one of my most fulfilling achievements.

Recruiting diverse students through connection and representation has been a deeply personal journey for me. As a first-generation Hispanic college student, I was fortunate to learn about Ross through the

All-Access Program during my senior year of high school. Stepping foot on campus, I was determined to pay forward the guidance and support I received by becoming a BBA Ambassador. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of connecting with thousands of families through tours, panels, and events. Seeing the All-Access Program double in size and helping initiatives like the pioneering Ross Discover Event in Miami fills me with pride as we strive to increase Hispanic and first-generation representation.

Fostering a diverse community became a passion project for me as I struggled to find a concrete Hispanic community upon my arrival at Ross. ALPFA, the only affinity network geared towards Hispanic/LatinX students, had only 5-10 members when I joined. Stepping up as president during my sophomore year, I was determined to create a more engaging club curriculum and expand our reach. Today, ALPFA boasts around 50-60 active members and has become a force in Ross, hosting prominent recruiting events and collaborating with other affinity networks. Our involvement in service, volunteering with local Ann Arbor restaurants like Pilar’s Tamales, and working with organizations like Mensajeros de Paz Buenos Aires, has extended our impact beyond campus. Witnessing younger ALPFA Exec members Andres Ramirez, Sara Gaitan, and Victoria Ivanoff start a social Latino club (Latinos@Umich) and seeing their leadership skills flourish has been incredibly rewarding.

Empowering the diverse community has been at the core of my work as a career development coach and Business+Tech member. Navigating job recruitment as a minority student is often challenging, which is why I’ve dedicated myself to mentoring students one-on-one and creating resources tailored to their needs. Through initiatives like the Career Development DEI Team and Business+Tech, I’ve facilitated access to exclusive recruiting opportunities and provided insights into various industries, making it more accessible to minority students.

Reflecting on these experiences, I am filled with immense pride and gratitude. The growth of initiatives like ALPFA and the success of students in continuing our mission inspire me daily. Their dedication and achievements underscore the importance of representation and community in fostering diversity. It’s incredibly fulfilling to witness the reciprocal change as students I’ve connected with during recruiting events now reach out to me, expressing how I’ve made an impact and inspiring them to become BBA Ambassadors themselves. Moving forward, I remain committed to creating an inclusive and supportive environment for all students at Ross and beyond. I am grateful for my experience, and I hope that the students who come after me feel empowered too.

Which classmate do you most admire? I was fortunate to have Olivia Roncaglia as part of my Ross section cohort. We journeyed through all our core classes together and even tackled extracurriculars like the Ross Sanger Leadership Crisis Challenge side-by-side. Olivia’s journey resonated with me deeply. As an international student, she faced the daunting task of navigating college life solo, much like my own journey as a first-generation student. I recall the initial struggles she faced in finding her footing at Ross, even considering transferring at one point. Yet, her unwavering dedication, resilience, and humility paved the way for her remarkable success, culminating in a prestigious role in New York.

Despite our differences, Olivia and I forged a strong bond. Her soft demeanor, patience, meticulous handwritten notes, and diligent work ethic stood out to me. While I tend to be more outspoken, fast-paced, and big-picture-oriented, Olivia’s attention to detail and methodical approach complemented our dynamic well. Working together on various teams, we’ve encountered our fair share of challenges, yet we have always managed to leverage our strengths. She’s been one of my biggest supporters and instilled in me a new-found confidence as a leader, believing in my capabilities when I doubted myself the most. I’ve learned so much from Olivia, and I am grateful for this lifelong friendship Ross has given me. Despite us heading down different paths post-graduation, I am optimistic that Olivia and I will work together again. She is destined for great things, and I can’t wait to be her cheerleader through it all.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Not to sound cliché, but I owe everything to my parents. When I struggled with English after moving back from Argentina and faced the risk of failing kindergarten, my mom became my guiding light and instilled in me an unwavering work ethic. Night-after-night, she sat with me for hours—even though English wasn’t her first language—to help me prepare for the grade exam. As time progressed, my dad worked tirelessly to enroll me in tutoring and academic enrichment programs, ensuring I caught up to my native-speaking peers and didn’t fall behind in remedial classes.

Despite their own challenges immigrating to the United States with limited resources, my parents managed to start their own small businesses. Reflecting back on their journey, I am in awe of how far they have come. They’ve demonstrated remarkable resilience and determination, embodying the kind of leadership I aspire to—empathetic, community-driven, and always prioritizing others’ needs. Whether it’s covering shifts for their employees or going the extra mile serving in various community organizations, they’ve instilled in me the values of humility, hard work, and compassion.

As a first-generation college student, my decision to attend the Ross School of Business was difficult for them to comprehend, let alone support financially. Despite their concerns, they made sacrifices to see my dreams come true. While they may not fully understand the intricacies of academia or the recruiting process, their unwavering support and boundless gratitude have been my guiding light. Their optimism has encouraged me to pursue opportunities I once found daunting. For that, I am endlessly grateful. Having them by my side has been the greatest gift, and I feel incredibly honored to be the first in my family to walk across the stage this upcoming May—a testament to their sacrifices and unwavering support.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I’ve always been drawn to the education sector, especially as a first-generation student. With the rise of Edtech, I aspire to contribute to the field through strategy on how virtual reality and AI can revolutionize personalized learning and support resources for underprivileged communities.

Another item on my professional bucket list is to continue my education journey. Pursuing a master’s program or MBA would not only open doors to new opportunities but also allow me to keep expanding my network and enriching experiences. Down the line, it would be a dream come true to someday teach my own business course, just like some of my favorite professors.

Overall, I believe my true passion lies in education coaching and mentorship, and I hope I can have an impact on students no matter their background – just like some of my favorite teachers, professors, and mentors have left a profound impact on me.

What made Nicole such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Even in a classroom overflowing with potential, Nicole shines—not just for her intellect, but for her radiant spirit. When I met her, it was immediately clear that her drive is as unstoppable as a freight train, matched in intensity only by the sincerity of her smile. During a particularly spirited case debate, I remember Nicole defended her position with the wit and intensity of a seasoned attorney. But what I remember most was that Nicole’s glowing smile—a window into her positive spirit—never faded throughout the intense exchange! After class, I walked home wondering if I could ever learn to argue as artfully and with as much grace as Nicole had in my classroom that day. I’m still working on that, but I cannot wait to watch how Nicole uses her remarkable talents to carve her path in the world.”

Justin Frake
Ross School of Business Strategy Professor


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.