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Ross Student Athletes Small
  From top to bottom:
Claudia Lau, BBA '15,
JD Johnson, BBA '14,
Matt Vogrich, BBA '13,
Shaun Bernstein, BBA '14

Ross Student-Athletes Go for the Win

4/15/2013 --

BBAs who are varsity athletes prove success in class and success in the game can be a win-win proposition.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Everyone knows college is a busy time. Students juggle rigorous class schedules around their social lives and clubs. But what if you added 20 hours a week of intense athletic practice to that mix? And traveling every other weekend, plus tournaments? The student-athletes walking the halls of the Ross School of Business are doing just that. And it's not only proximity to South Campus that caught their attention, but the possibilities for life after sports that drew them to Michigan Ross.

"When I decided to come to the U.S. to study, I searched for a balance between school and swimming. I know a person cannot swim forever, and I know I need an education. So I wanted to find that balance," says sophomore swimmer Claudia Lau, BBA '15, a backstroke specialist from Hong Kong.

Being athletes might set them apart, but these students understand that sports aren't the whole package. "Tennis wasn't the whole equation. The academic side was just as much a factor in where I was going to go to school. Attending Ross was my goal the whole time," says Shaun Bernstein, BBA '14, a junior tennis player.

Knowing the pressures of a top-notch athletic department and the high standards set at Ross, they signed up to work hard on and off the court. "I'd like to think I'm not the kind of person that cuts corners in life. I got into Ross and haven't looked back. I've loved it ever since," says lacrosse captain JD Johnson, BBA '14.

"I've been pushed; I've worked harder than I thought I could. It's been incredible," says Bernstein.

While their varsity status doesn't diminish a student-athlete's college experience, it does alter it. Student-athletes also have to learn to deal with fans and critics alike, especially when the national eye is on them. "If I talk in class or raise my hand, some people are shocked because of the jock stereotype. They think I'm just at Michigan for basketball," says Matt Vogrich, BBA '13, a senior on the basketball team.

"The stereotype that athletes put in less or slack off and expect the same outcome is not the case," says Johnson. "A core focus of athletics at Michigan is to make sure that academics are first. You're here to go to school, get a degree, and get a career after that."

In fact, they see their sport as good footwork for class, not a way to circumvent it. "Playing a sport helps me efficiently communicate with others and work in groups effectively at Ross," says Lau. It also helps student-athletes learn and apply leadership principles in unique ways. "As you grow in the basketball program, it forces you to become more of a leader," says Vogrich, who saw his role on the team grow and evolve as the Wolverines marched to the Final Four this year. "The business program has helped me a lot in terms of leadership," says Bernstein, who is co-captain of his team. I don't think I could have gotten a better experience."

Competing also becomes second nature to these accomplished athletes, whether it be in academics or athletics and against classmates or strangers from elsewhere. "I've learned to compete in both life arenas," says Bernstein. "The pressure of closing out a match or having a big exam coming up, and how you prepare for it, is the same." Adds Johnson, "There's a level of competition with the people around you, as well as other schools, that I know will translate wherever I go. I'm not afraid to work hard and work tired."

Though student-athletes might miss out on speakers or conferences during game or practice time, they don't miss out on the Ross experience, taking advantage of recruiting and clubs to help them make the most of their limited schedules.

"I think Michigan Ross provides all the resources you need to be successful in the business world," says Vogrich, who utilized recruiting at Ross to score a consulting job at IBM. "I was 100 percent invested in Ross, and they helped me in everything I needed to get done."

— Melissa Syapin

For more information, contact:
Melissa Syapin, (734) 936-2150,