HawkPride: Next stop, Yale University
For Ben Topping, the road that led to Yale University began at Henry Ford College.
“I started by taking a business course at the College after a major health crisis. Originally, I took microeconomics because it was something I could use in my personal life, no matter my major. I quickly developed a passion for it, culminating in getting a job at a local business where I operated semi-autonomously in my own section, getting to apply all my lessons from my HFC classes into the real world and watching them work,” said Topping, of Ann Arbor, the youngest of three.
The 2008 valedictorian graduate of Trenton High School, Topping – who currently works as an OEM Account Executive for EXEDY Globalparts Corporation, a Japanese Tier-1 automotive supplier in Van Buren Charter Township – will begin work next month in the MBA program at Yale University in New Haven, CT.
HFC foundation in economics, business, and core classes
“I definitely think HFC helped make it possible for me to get into Yale,” said Topping. “The foundation in economics, business, and the core classes I found at HFC is due in large part to the passionate professors and the small class sizes. If I needed help, they were available.”
Topping earned his associate degree in international business, graduating summa cum laude in 2014. He transferred to Wayne State University, earning his bachelor’s degree in global supply chain management with honors in 2015.
“I was recovering from health issues and wanted to get back into school in a place that was local, affordable, and with professors who cared. HFC met all those needs in spades,” said Topping.
Among Topping’s favorite professors are Doug Langs, Dr. Jennifer Ernst, and Elaine Saneske. In fact, Topping had Langs for his very first class at HFC and subsequently took his supply chain management and international business classes.
One of Topping’s fondest memories of HFC is his capstone class, where he designed a board game using the principles he learned in Langs’ supply chain management class.
“The following session was a ton of fun seeing everyone's take on how to make such a game, from Trivial Pursuit-style quiz games to one that tried to simulate the actual supply chain process!” recalled Topping. “Some of my best friends to this day were the people I met at the ‘nerd corner’ of the lunchroom between classes. I even got to be a groomsman when two of them married each other.”
Hidden benefits of attending HFC
Topping stated a major benefit to attending HFC was the small class size and accessibility to professors – something he can’t reiterate enough to current students.
“Take advantage of this, even if it isn't strictly related to coursework,” said Topping. “In many cases, you get out of your education what you put into it.”
He also encourages students to take classes outside their major if they can.
“Aside from my business courses, my Great Works class through the HFC Honors Program taught by Dr. Ernst is still one of my fondest memories and even led to entering my final paper into a philosophy competition,” said Topping.
All the elements of leadership
Langs is proud of his former student.
“As an instructor who has taught since 2003, I am proud to say that Ben was the best student I have had the honor and privilege of teaching,” he said. “He has overcome many challenges and has always demonstrated his ability to achieve academic excellence. I was able to witness his ability to thoroughly research topics and present a clear position and understanding of the issues.”
Langs continued: “It should not be a surprise to the teachers and professors who have witnessed Ben’s educational accomplishments to hear that he has been accepted into one of the pre-eminent Ivy League universities. His acceptance to Yale is a reflection of his educational abilities. Based on my observations and experience, he will be a future leader in our society.”
Topping is looking forward to attending Yale. Classes begin in late August.
“Beyond the prestige and quality of the program, a major factor to me was the culture,” he said. “As a relatively small business school compared to its contemporaries, I found the community tight-knit, staff and faculty accessible, and overall positive. I also like its broad curriculum and look forward to exploring industries and fields I didn’t get a chance to see as an undergraduate.”
Proud to be HFC
Saneske was the associate dean of the Business and Economics Division (prior to the current School of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Professional Development (BEPD) when Topping was a student. She met Topping when he first enrolled at the College.
“Ben’s desire was to obtain the best education that would fulfill his dreams of working in the world of business,” said Saneske. “During his time at HFC, Ben obtained an internship with a local small business, where he was elated to learn the various facets of the business – finances, operations, planning, marketing, and human resources, to name a few. Ben’s a very thoughtful, intelligent, and goal-focused student. I wish him well in his educational endeavors at Yale. We at HFC are honored to have helped him achieve his dreams. I agree with Doug Langs that Ben Topping will be one of our country's great leaders!”
“I’m proud of my HFC associate degree,” said Topping. “When I graduate from Yale, I will be proud to wear my HFC and Wayne State colors to my ceremony.”