From ‘shy guy’ to student leader: Rotman Commerce student wins Futures Fund Scholarship

For Rotman Commerce student Jack Chen, winning the Futures Fund Scholarship for Outstanding Leadership from Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year is proof of how much he’s grown in four years.

Futures Fund Scholarship recipient Jack Chen.

“When I first came to Rotman Commerce I was a super shy guy,” said Chen. “My mind was bursting with ideas but I never spoke up because I felt like no one would listen.”

Being mentored by upper-year students in the Rotman Commerce Students’ Association (RCSA) changed all of that.

“Joining the RCSA as a first-year intern helped me realize that my voice mattered and that I could make a difference,” said Chen. “The mentorship I received from upper years, especially the president at that time, was life-changing.”

Now in the final year of his undergraduate degree, Chen is president of the RCSA. During his undergraduate career he’s also been involved with the Rotman Commerce Houses and Rotman’s BMO Financial Group Finance Research and Trading Lab.

Professor Alexandra MacKay, director of Rotman Commerce, has seen how scholarships like the Futures Fund impact students like Chen.

“Recognizing student achievement in more than a token way is critical to encouraging leadership,” she says. “When students see a tangible benefit to their efforts, they’re more likely to continue them, and to encourage others to lead as well.”

This holds true for Chen. He says the $7,500 scholarship will allow him to focus more of his attention on contributing to the Rotman Commerce community and less on his finances, while also inspiring others the way past upper-year students inspired him.

“I want students to know that their voices are important and that they should be heard,” said Chen. “Leadership means giving voice to those who are shy or in the shadows, or marginalized.”

He’ll have the chance to meet like-minded people, including some of the country’s most accomplished leaders at Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year gala in Toronto next February. Futures Fund Scholarship winners receive their scholarship money at a special reception the day before the gala.

Chen credits his family and advisors at Rotman Commerce for helping him develop his strong leadership skills, in addition to his upper-year mentors.

“Rotman Commerce provided a platform for the tools and opportunities that facilitated my growth — extracurricular, academically and socially,” said Chen.

As for what’s next for Chen?

After he graduates with his Bachelor of Commerce degree in 2020, he plans to take what he’s learned to law school.

“I want to build on the business and financial knowledge I’ve gained from Rotman Commerce and add legal and analytical capabilities to my toolkit.”

About the Futures Fund Scholarship

The Futures Fund Scholarship provides 10 exceptional and deserving university students with $7,500 grants to further their educational ambitions. Recipients are selected by their school’s Dean’s office based on their achievements and demonstrated leadership initiatives in their academic and extracurricular activities.