Alécia Chen and Kat Park

By Lucianna Ciccoicoppo / Photo by Michelle Yee

From the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of Nexus

In the busy worlds of fintech and finance, New York City-based Alécia Chen and Kat Park are volunteering their time to connect Faculty of Law graduates – and using some Maple Leaf moxie to get everyone networked and excited about this Canadian law alumni group.

“The University of Toronto brand is really well respected around the world,” says Park, VP in the office of the COO in Compliance at Goldman Sachs. “I personally take pride in the brand and I wanted to make sure its vibrancy continues in NYC. It’s important to stay connected, not only for professional opportunities, but also for a sense of place, as some may feel lost in the city. I am originally from Vancouver, and it would be nice to have a forum to allow old and new alumni to meet and get to know each other.”

“I find the events inspirational,” says Chen, legal counsel and project leader for OnDeck Capital, the largest online small business lender in the US, “particularly for younger alumni. Not knowing what to do next, whether to go in house or not, hearing about cool jobs and how people took a more active approach in their careers, making connections to find out how to get there and hearing this first hand has been really great.”

Their enthusiasm has produced results. “The first events were very well received,” says Park. “We had a fantastic turnout of about 50 alumni of all different age groups and backgrounds, out of 200 alumni in New York. We found this very encouraging and thought people were definitely looking for ways to connect.”

A phone call from a U of T staffer—who was looking for another Kat Park at Goldman Sachs—picked up on the vivacity of this Kat during their conversation. The caller asked how Kat could give back to her alma mater? “I offered to start this alumni group myself,” recalls Park, and she recruited Alécia to volunteer as well.  

The culture of giving back in the United States is much more ingrained, and the two are working on highlighting the value of a U of T law degree to their fellow alumni. “It’s a long-term investment built out over time,” says Park. Adds Alécia: “We’ve had some success and I’m glad we’re definitely teeing up towards more.”

Both received financial aid during law school, and both were “super grateful.” Student financial aid means “you don't have to worry or stress about tuition during your studies. It’s important to have that support,” says Park. “I can vouch for the value of having financial aid at U of T and personally how helpful it was for me.”

You could be hearing more about an alumni group out West soon, as Chen heads out this fall to lead an OnDeck team in Denver, Colorado. Continuing to build connections, Chen is already thinking of ways to reach out to alumni there. Maybe you’ll see her on the ski hill? She laughs.

“The people from the law school experience are the most memorable. It would be a missed opportunity not to connect with them and keep learning from each other. It’s so important to have a forum to reach out,” says Chen.