It’s not an exaggeration to say that Rotman donors made Fabiola Diaz Mier’s dreams come true.
It started with a phone call in the summer of 2020. The connection was shaky and Diaz Mier (MBA ’22) didn’t hear all the details, but she was able to make out that she had been accepted into the Rotman School’s MBA program.
She was immediately ecstatic — but that feeling was short-lived.
“I was over the moon for about 15 minutes, but then the reality of the situation hit me. I didn’t know how I was going to afford a top business school education,” says Diaz Mier, who was living and working in Mexico, her home country, at the time.
“There’s no doubt about it, donors changed my life.”
— Fabiola Diaz Mier, MBA ’22
“It was heartbreaking. I had worked so hard to get accepted into a top school, and suddenly I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go.”
It wasn’t until she received her offer package the next day that she found some relief. She was excited to learn that she was the recipient of a few entrance scholarships — including the John M. Cassaday MBA Fellowship in Marketing, a donor-funded award, and the prestigious Joseph L. Rotman Scholarship, named in honour of the School’s lead benefactor — making it possible for her to pursue an MBA at her dream school.
“There’s no doubt about it, donors changed my life. There’s no way I could have made it to Rotman and met the people I’ve met or learned what I’ve learned this past year without their support,” she says.
For this and so many other reasons, Diaz Mier will be expressing her gratitude and celebrating the School on October 1st, the first-ever Rotman Giving Day. It’s a unique opportunity for the Rotman network to make significant impact, as donations made by end of day October 1st will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $1,000, while matching funds last.
Donors make a difference
Importantly, Giving Day is not just a fundraising campaign, but an opportunity to celebrate the donors who make the School’s ground-breaking research and exceptional student experiences possible.
“Over the last 10 years, I have personally seen the incredible value created by our thought leadership, unparalleled management education, bold new ideas in innovation, governance, sustainability and more,” says Susan Christoffersen, Dean of the Rotman School. “We are truly one community with infinite possibilities, and a big reason for that is our committed donors.”
Investing in the next generation of leaders is also an important means of investing in progress.
Students know they have donors to thank for so many of the transformative learning opportunities they’ve experienced at Rotman. Like Diaz Mier, many receive life-changing student awards which allow them to access a world-class education. A few students are lucky enough to be accepted into the year-long LEADS mentorship program, which matches Rotman students with high-level executives. Additionally, almost all students have participated in case competitions, attended networking nights, or gone on international study tours, supported in part by generous donors.
While donors and friends of Rotman are welcome to contribute to any Rotman School or Rotman Commerce area this Giving Day, they are encouraged give to the Student Experience Fund. These funds will go directly towards supporting students — such as establishing new or topping up existing student scholarships, improving career support services, enhancing experiential learning opportunities and modernizing student facilities.
Investing in leaders
Ultimately, donors play a fundamental role in helping students become progressive leaders in spaces that matter most to them.
For instance, Jong-Kyoung Kim (MBA ’22), recipient of the John H. Watson Scholarship in Value Investing, credits donors and the Rotman School for helping him find ways to make a meaningful impact.
“Working in hedge and mutual funds, I primarily served only high net-worth individuals and select investors of the fund,” explains Kim, who hails from Korea and specifically wanted to study at a top Canadian business school with strengths in finance so he could learn more about the Canadian model for pension funds.
“Going forward, I would like to use my skills and experiences for the benefit of a greater number of people in our society. I think I can add value to our society if I can get people to worry less about their retirement and to focus on enjoying every moment in their lives.”
Meanwhile, new grad Nazleen Lobo (MBA ’21), recipient of the Carol Perry Scholarship in Health Sector Management, credits her donor-funded award with helping advance her career in healthcare leadership.
“The availability of awards like this has encouraged me to continue on this path, alleviated the financial strain of pursuing this education, and helped put my goal of being an inspiring healthcare leader within reach,” she says.
For Diaz Mier, this past year has been deeply transformative. In some ways, she doesn’t recognize the person she was before starting the program.
“Having been part of such diverse teams and worked with so many talented classmates, I’m a much stronger team player now. Generally, I’m now a more holistic professional who isn’t afraid to take on more responsibility,” she says.
She has a busy second year ahead. In addition to pursuing her specialization in Business Design and working with the Self-Development Lab, Diaz Mier will be taking on leadership roles with various clubs, including the Rotman Marketing Association, the Women in Management Association and the Latin American Business Club.
“Like so many of my classmates, I am looking forward to stepping into the building for in-person learning this fall and meeting my peers and professors face-to-face for the first time,” she says. “I can’t wait to see the additional experiences and learning opportunities this year will bring.”