In high school, LEAD Scholar Hailey Love was a competitive dancer. When a knee injury turned her life upside down, Love’s mother encouraged her not to sit idle.
“You have this opportunity to dive into what you want to do for your future and try to understand where your path is going,” Love recalls from conversations with her mom. “Use this time for that.”
With creativity still on her mind, Love discovered a new talent in poetry and she soon found that her musings and performances resonated with others. Love became president of her school’s poetry slam team and performed at major events, including Chicago’s famous Louder Than a Bomb youth poet event; WE Day Illinois, an annual initiative designed to honor and empower young people; and the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend.
As Love built valuable storytelling skills and confidence as a poet, she was also preparing for the rigors of higher education and thinking about her career path. She attended preparatory programs at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Spelman College in Atlanta. The people Love met and the work she accomplished helped her realize that she wanted to major in business.
“I loved working on a team. I loved generating new ideas, doing research, collaborating, and, ultimately, flexing those poetry skills that I gained by getting up and presenting in front of people and bringing that passion to the table,” she says.
Love credits her friend Eve Taylor, ’23, for recommending U-M for her next step in life. In addition to graduating from the same high school and sharing a passion for studying business, the two connected on their backgrounds as Black women.
“Eve told me that our community [at U-M] was smaller than Howard — by number, by percentage, by all of it,” Love says, “But because of that, we are so close-knit. And when you’re in these classrooms with peers that don’t look like you, and you show them how excellent you are as a Black woman, you can become their archetype for what it means to be a Black woman in business.”
The Ross School of Business junior has found opportunities and flourished. In September, while working at the University Career Center, she was asked to provide student perspective for a roundtable discussion with the Grow Michigan Together Council, an initiative created by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — with a spectrum of stakeholders including U-M President Santa Ono — to address the state’s challenges in population, infrastructure, and retaining college graduates.
With a major in business administration and a minor in writing, Love also serves as co-president of the Black Business Undergraduate Society, community service chair of the student arts-and-fashion organization EnspiRED, and public relations chair for The Urban Wordsmith Society.
“I love the word ‘wordsmith.’ . . . There are people that would consider themselves slam poets, some that are more spoken word or written poetry, and then some people that would consider themselves rappers. And we all come from our different spaces on campus; it’s not a Ross-specific space, it’s not a Michigan Medicine-specific space. Hearing those different voices across the club is so rewarding,” she says.
Also rewarding is Love’s newest campus commitment: following many women she admires in joining the Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. sorority. Love particularly looks forward to the outreach and service initiatives they will undertake in the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area.
And that is all on top of continuing her academic and professional development. She worked in investment banking at Morgan Stanley over the summer and has a position arranged for this coming summer at Blackstone.
“People would ask ‘Oh, are you ready? You might be the only Black person in the room. You might be the only Black woman in the room.’ And I have been,” Love says. “No one in my family was a businessperson, no one in my family had an idea of what I was going into when I said I wanted to do a business degree or when I said I wanted to go into financial services.
“But there is a level of pride that I take in being able to help my peers break into that space. If I do well there, then the next Black woman that comes and interviews for that position, maybe their eyes are a little wider. And I’m able to model those experiences for the folks that are coming after me.”
Gregory Lucas-Myers, ’10, is the senior associate editor of Michigan Alum.