Thank You, Harris Family! Celebrating 35 Years of the J. Ira Harris Scholarship
The people make the place. This is a guiding principle of the University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Michigan Ross is proud to be home to the Leaders & Best in business: alumni who are shaping industries and producing bold ideas that change the world. We owe the strength of our community to scholarships, which ensure that incredible students can enroll at Michigan Ross and make the most of their educational experience. For this reason, Michigan Ross feels immense gratitude for the defining generosity of J. Ira Harris, BBA '59, Nicki Harris, and the Harris Family. In 1983, the Harris Family established the J. Ira Harris Scholarship to support MBA students who demonstrate financial need and academic merit. Since that time, the scholarship has been awarded to close to 200 individuals. It is also unique in that it actively encourages recipients to give back to the fund after graduation, so that students benefit from the scholarship in perpetuity. This book was created to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the J. Ira Harris Scholarship. In its pages, former recipients have come together to reflect on how the Harris Family's generosity has shaped their lives, provide updates on their careers and accomplishments, and reiterate their thanks. The book also includes excerpts from letters of thanks that Harris Scholarship recipients have written through the decades. Michigan Ross extends its deepest gratitude to J. Ira Harris, Nicki Harris, and the Harris Family for their outstanding commitment to students. We are honored that they support the school's mission to develop business leaders who change the world for the better.
David C. Hearn, MBA '89 Occupation: Director of Worldwide Procurement Post-Ross Activities: "Since graduating almost 30 years ago, I have been the VP of Procurement at two Fortune 500 companies, married my high school sweetheart, moved to California, and raised two wonderful children." To the Harris Family: "Thank you for enabling the start of my wonderful life. Receiving your scholarship was the first blessing. But then paying it back, and then some, was the blessing I did not expect."
Kevin M. Didion, MBA '88 Occupation: Consultant and former airline services company president and COO To the Harris Family: "Scholarships endowed by the Harris Family and others provided a bridge for me to enter top universites, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and complete their programs on time and focused on the academics. Ever since graduation, as my career has progressed and I have been able to make donations, I have always remembered my moral obligation to contribute back. Thank you."
Marc N. Levin, MBA '87 Occupation: Managing Director, Investment Banking Post-Ross Activities: "I have spent my career in banking with Salomon Brothers, UBS, and now a boutique firm called Seaport Global." To the Harris Family: "Thank you for your generosity. Education is key to success."
Jeremy Chase Occupation: Buy-side analyst Post-Ross Activities: "For the last 20 years, I've worked as an equity analyst focused on healthcare companies, first on the sell side, and for the past 16 years, on the buy side." To the Harris Family: "Thank you! I was funding my own education, mostly through loans, and your scholarship helped make the loans less burdensome."
"A mark of a great business school is the strength of its alumni network. Your commitment to Michigan through your scholarship is indicative of Michigan's excellent alumni network and your personal dedication to this institution."
Nicole Chaika (nĂŠe Miller), BBA '93, MBA '99 From Nicole's Scholarship Thank You Letter to J. Ira Harris
Jim Tish, MBA '96 Occupation: Office Managing Partner, Grant Thornton LLP To the Harris Family: "I would like to thank the Harris Family for helping me fund the cost of obtaining my MBA at Michigan. I always thought that the scholarship was a great format, in that it helped me when I needed help, but then encouraged me to give back to the fund after I graduated, so that others would equally benefit. I am currently the Office Managing Partner for the Detroit office of Grant Thornton LLP, one of the world's largest accounting, advisory, and tax firms, and my oldest is graduating from Ross' BBA Program this April. Go Blue, and thank you!"
"Without the award, I do not know how I could have afforded tuition. Now, not only can I afford tuition, but I have time to study and I am free of the financial concerns that had previously caused me to question my long-term goals."
Brendan D. Fitzpatrick, MBA/MPP '94 From Brendan's Scholarship Thank You Letter to J. Ira Harris
"I want to share with you my tremendous gratitude for your support. Your scholarship fund affords students such as myself the opportunity to better themselves, and in turn, give back to those who are less fortunate."
David Brown, MBA '94 From David's Scholarship Thank You Letter to J. Ira Harris
Jason Braidwood, BBA '96, MBA/MUP '04 Occupation: President, The Koman Group Post-Ross Activities: "After completing my BBA, I started out at Accenture. From there, I went back to U-M to get my MBA and Master of Urban Planning. After a few stops in real estate asset management and private equity shops, I found my way to The Koman Group, where I've been developing and financing mixed-use projects for the last decade."
To the Harris Family: "I want the Harris Family to know how very talented, yet humble, my classmates were, most notably when I was getting my MBA at Ross. There were professional athletes, successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, mothers and fathers, young and old. Each and every one were extraordinary people. All ready to do great things, yet all amazingly humble. The Harris family has created a wonderful legacy in this regard. I'll never forget reading Mr. Harris' letter to me. Paraphrased: 'You do not need to pay me back. Just promise you will in turn make a gift to another student later on in life.' Such a simple, yet powerful, message that I have tried to honor in small ways, and will certainly honor in a much larger capacity soon. Since pursuing real estate development, I've made it my life's work to effect change via the built environment. I only do urban, mixed-use development, with partners and equity providers keen on transforming Rust Belt cities into highly competitive marketplaces. Affordability and diversity are paramount as well. I think the Harris Family would be proud that, though successful, I don't get out of bed for the money. I do it to give back."
Corey Harris, MBA/JD '01 Occupation: Managing Director, Goldman Sachs To the Harris Family: "Now that I have the opportunity to give back, I try to in many ways. I am very involved with the Jewish United Fund in Chicago, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, among other organizations. Over the last few years, in memory of the impact it had on me at the time, I set up my own scholarship through Michigan Ross, granting $10,000 annually to a business school student with financial need who came from the Chicago area. I have had a chance to meet a couple of my recipients, and tell them that I was once a recipient of a similar scholarship. They already seem to dream of the day that they can pass along a similar gift. Thank you again. I hope that as you look back on the gift you made, you find its impact broader than you could have ever imagined."
"As we are all aware, the current costs of education are massive, but I am thankful that there are members of society like yourself who believe that financial need should never prevent someone from obtaining higher education."
Ryan C. Fulton, MBA '05 From Ryan's Scholarship Thank You Letter to J. Ira Harris
Paul Wong, MBA/MPP '03 Occupation: Member of Secretariat, Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures Post-Ross Activities: "I have been promoting economic growth and prosperity around the world as a central banker." To the Harris Family: "I am grateful for the generous financial support from the Harris Family, which has allowed me to pursue a career in the public sector. If it weren't for your support, I would not have had the opportunity to fund more than $100 million in development projects in emerging markets, promote economic growth and prosperity in the United States for the last decade, and support financial stability and financial innovation globally."
Roopesh Aggarwal, MBA '04 Occupation: Managing Director, Ankura Consulting. Turnaround and restructuring professional for a new services firm funded by Madison Dearborn. To the Harris Family: "Cost of education is the single greatest barrier to higher education today. Your commitment to building a platform that will last long into the future is critical to bringing the Michigan experience to qualified students. Thank you for supporting my journey. I continue to give to your scholarship so others can do the same."
"I have always been confident that my decision to pursue an MBA has been wise, but now that my post-graduation debt will be a little bit lighter, I am even more confident in my investment in my education. Moreover, this award confirms that my decision to spend the first semester focusing on school full time rather than working a part-time job was wise as well."
Michael Sesser, MBA '09 From Michael's Scholarship Thank You Letter to J. Ira Harris
"I am doubly thrilled to receive the scholarship because I am familiar with the good work you and your family have done in Chicago. As the former development and communications director for the Chicago Public Education Fund prior to coming to Michigan to earn my MBA, I am of course aware of the generous commitments you've made to young people in Chicago."
Michael D. Sanders, MBA '07 From Michael's Scholarship Thank You Letter to J. Ira Harris
Heather M. Wobbe, MBA '04 Occupation: Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Adult Psychiatry Residency, University Hospitals - Cleveland Medical Center Post-Ross Activities: "After working in consulting for several years and two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, both with the Army National Guard, I elected to undertake a career change into healthcare. I have since completed medical school and am currently in residency training in psychiatry, with a goal of sub-specializing in addiction psychiatry." To the Harris Family: "Thank you so much for providing the flexibility to explore opportunities in business. It inspired me to focus my career on advocating for the underserved, which despite a career change, I continue to focus on today."
"I would like to thank you very much for creating this scholarship at the business school. One of the reasons I chose to attend Michigan was the incredible alumni network, and I think this is an excellent way to keep alumni involved after graduation, by ensuring that they continue to contribute to the development of talented students."
Adrienne Hovland (nĂŠe LaPointe), MBA '06 From Adrienne's Scholarship Thank You Letter to J. Ira Harris
Sachin Padhye, MBA '05 Occupation: Sr. Manager, Accenture Strategy Consulting Post-Ross Activities: "I started my second career and got to explore upstate New York. I moved back to India, where I was treasurer of the U-M India Association and helped grow alumni engagement. I relocated back to to the U.S. after seven years and started my own internet company (iquriouskids.com) while working a full-time job." To the Harris Family: "Thank you. I look forward to being able to pay your generosity forward."
John Law Thompson, MBA '16 Occupation: Finance Manager Post-Ross Activities: "Helping Microsoft compete in the SaaS space, working in dynamics planning and strategy finance." To the Harris Family: "Thank you for contributing to this amazing program!"
Jun Hyung Oh, B.S.E.Elec '05, MBA '14 Occupation: Senior Strategy Manager, Cisco Systems Post-Ross Activities: "I got married to the love of my life. And on top of my day job at Cisco, I have helped more than 350 students and young professionals with career advancement." To the Harris Family: "Thank you for everything. I am giving back by providing career advice and job opportunities to Ross students. I hope to continue doing that and do more of it."
"Your scholarship has helped lighten my financial burden, allowing me to focus more on the numerous benefits of the business school: academics, networking, and growing my leadership skills."
Allison Holmgren, MBA '16 From Allison's Scholarship Thank You Letter to J. Ira Harris
"Over the last few weeks, I have spent time learning more about your career and philanthropic endeavors. I am particularly amazed by the impact you have had on the city of Chicago and the role you have personally played in raising a Midwestern city to international prominence. As a native Detroiter, I hope to rebuild the reputation and opportunity Detroit once held."
Emily Knoll, AB '11, MBA '17 From Emily's Scholarship Thank You Letter to J. Ira Harris
Michael McCormick, MBA '16 Occupation: Product Manager Post-Ross Activities: "After graduating from Ross in 2016, I moved back to Chicago, got married, and started working for Danaher Corporation. I started with a Danaher subsidiary, Videojet, in a global marketing job. More recently, I started an innovation product management job for our inkjet printer business unit, managing new product roadmaps and driving the creation of new printer products." To the Harris Family: "Thank you so much for your continued scholarship support over the years. Your scholarship provided me with the flexibility to pursue the most meaningful learning opportunities during my second year, including traveling to learn about business outside of Ann Arbor. Looking back on these experiences, they are among the most important parts of what I learned at Ross. Thanks for your support, and Go Blue!"
Bradford Lynch, MBA '17 Occupation: Senior Project Manager, Technical Post-Ross Activities: "I have been working on making interactions with Amazon's AI assistant, Alexa, more natural and engaging. Thus far, I have led three new product/feature launches and was the lead inventor on two patent applications related to AI. To the Harris Family: "Thank you for easing the burden of MBA tuition, thus enabling students to focus on the MBA experience."
On behalf of everyone at Michigan Ross, thank you again for your extraordinary dedication to our student community.
Celebrating 35 years of the J. Ira Harris Scholarship at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business