Management Alumni Spotlight: Carmen Chan

Carmen Chan 

“It’s because of the prior generations’ sacrifice, bravery, and hope for a better future that allowed me to access the opportunities I have.”

– Carmen Chan, Associate, Corporate Client Group, RBC

In recognition of Asian Heritage Month, Co-op Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) graduate Carmen shares her personal reflections, originally published on LinkedIn.

The month of May was significant to me historically given it meant the school year was nearly over and summer break was just around the corner! That meant my main focus would be playing outside with my friends and exploring the parks in Scarborough. When I studied at the University of Toronto, in the Management Co-op program, the month of May marked the end of exams and the start of summer! (Pictured below: Carmen and Management classmates in the Instructional Centre atrium at UTSC). 

Now, the month of May is meaningful to me because it marks Asian Heritage Month. It’s an opportunity for everyone, not just me, to learn more about the cultural achievements and contributions of individuals of Asian heritage who’ve helped shape modern society. Today, more than ever, I am incredibly proud of my heritage. Admittedly, expressing this appreciation did not always come easy as I was growing up. I embrace all aspects of myself: my personality, my attention to detail, my ability to think big picture, my resourcefulness, my determination, my passion, and, above all else, the aspects of me that celebrate my Chinese heritage.

I’m proud of my upbringing, proud to call my mom and dad my parents (pictured: Carmen and her mother), proud of my family who relentlessly pursue their definition of success, and proud of my generation for achieving so much despite not feeling like they belonged. My mother is Hakka Chinese and my father is Chinese but moved to Singapore where his father taught English. When I was younger, I didn’t feel entirely Canadian despite being born in Canada, nor did I feel Hakka or Chinese. I’ve thankfully realized that I don’t ever have to fully be anything, and I’m a beautiful and spectacular blend of my upbringing, my heritage, my experiences and my personality. It takes time to embody a continuous demonstration of self-love.

I’m the eldest child in my immediate family and have a younger sister and brother. My birth order within my immediate family has contributed to my high-achieving, outspoken, stubborn, independent, and perfectionist traits. Both my parents are the youngest children in their respective immediate families. Given their families were considered lower class in China and immigrated to Canada, my generation was positioned to have the opportunity to consider attending university. My older cousins, parents, and relatives simply didn’t have this opportunity. It’s because of the prior generations sacrifice, bravery, and hope for a better future that allowed me to access the opportunities I have.

carmen at work

I’m lucky to be surrounded by my bright, supportive colleagues at the RBC Corporate Client Group, where we are united in our goal to serve our clients with purpose. I’m lucky to have colleagues across organizations and provinces who demonstrate their support despite no longer working together. When united, we’re stronger. (Pictured: Carmen and her team in Vancouver).