Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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Laura Garzon

Associate - Prime Services Group, CIBC
Valedictorian, Master of Finance '20

How does it feel to be valedictorian?

I am extremely happy and honoured. Our class is made-up of brilliant individuals and I hope to represent them well and make them proud.

Why do you think your classmates chose you for this honour?

It is difficult to know exactly, I think it was all the treats I kept bringing to class. In all honesty, I believe they chose me because they trust that I can tell a great story, one that encapsulates our MFin journey.

How has the program changed you?

Upon entering the program I was looking forward to diversifying my knowledge, I am confident in saying that the Rotman MFin has provided me with this foundation. The experience has also given me a larger network and a refreshed mindset on finance and its future. I also got to meet people who I now call my friends and I know I can find in my classmates allies.

Describe a highlight of the program.

Being a part of the first cohort to undertake the innovations in finance class with Professor John Hull was fantastic. This new addition to the program reinforces the rapidly changing nature of the financial industry. At the start, it felt overwhelming to write Python code and to learn a completely different discipline.

With time, I became fond of seeing the Python code run and graphs magically appear on my screen. In addition, I truly enjoyed learning from the guest lecturers. These academics and professionals are shaping the industry and they understand what the future holds. Learning from them provides the class of 2020 with a competitive advantage.

“Do not be afraid to take risks. You already took a risk by starting this journey, so keep going.”

—Laura Garzon

What makes your classmates / graduating year special?

The obvious answer is, we are the class of COVID-19. That’s special, right? Our class is so much more than that though. In one word I would describe us as resilient. The last few months of class were filled with uncertainty and anxiety, and even so we came together and delivered a remarkable final semester. The positive energy and constant drive is what makes us special.

Any final thoughts or advice to future students?

Do not be afraid to take risks. You already took a risk by starting this journey, so keep going. When I walked into my first class I felt scared, I was sitting in a classroom among outstanding professionals and experienced professors. I often wondered if they could smell my fear.

Regardless, I kept asking questions, asking how I could get involved, engaging with all my peers even when it felt uncomfortable and was out of my comfort zone. These were the times when I learned the most and I really understood the program does not only teach you about finance but about challenging yourself constantly in a professional, personal and intellectual level.

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