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‘Wildest dream’

Atlantic Canadian standout: Business student nabs $30,000 award

Student Life

By Susan White

A keen interest in finance and a long history of community service has helped a Memorial University business student be named among the best in Atlantic Canada.

Lauren Rowsell, 22, is one of nine winners of the 2020-2021 Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies.

“It’s so much of an honour, and it’s almost like my wildest dream come true,” said Ms. Rowsell. “I look at the past recipients [and] for me to be included is just so humbling and so rewarding. It’s just such affirmation that I’m on the right track.”

The $30,000 award celebrates entrepreneurial students and recognizes academic achievement, employment history, university and community leadership and career aspirations. The winners are chosen by a panel of business and academic leaders.

Thirty-two nominations were received this year.

“Right now, just starting out is a really critical time, and I’m still trying to figure out the exact path that I’m going to take,” she said. “This award allows me to be more open to opportunities as they come. It gives me security to be less risk-averse in my career.”

Career motivated

Ms. Rowsell, who hails from Botwood, has been career-focused since high school where she found herself gravitating – and excelling – in mathematics.

“Event from the start, I was very focused on the future and I really wanted to have a concrete plan. I didn’t just want to do a degree. I wanted to set myself up for a career.”

After high school, she entered the first-year transfer program at College of the North Atlantic in Grand Falls-Windsor as a math major but soon switched to business to pursue accounting and finance.

“There are so many opportunities at the business faculty.” — Lauren Rowsell

“It’s kind of like math but with a very practical application.”

She transferred into the second year of the bachelor of commerce (co-operative)(honours) program at the Faculty of Business Administration, where she achieved Dean’s List standing in each year of her program and is graduating this spring as the top-ranking female student in the program.

She also earned a number of scholarships and bursaries, including the C.D. Howe Memorial Foundation Scholarship, the DaimlerChrysler Scholarship, John Lewis Paton Scholarship and Wendy Hannam Bursary in Business.

“It’s been phenomenal,” said Ms. Rowsell about the program and Memorial. “The best thing was just meeting so many like-minded individuals and meeting so many mentors. There are so many opportunities at the business faculty, and I would honestly recommend the program to anyone.”

History of service

Ms. Rowsell has been heavily involved in The Fund, Memorial’s student-led investment fund, since 2019.

She began as an ambitious analyst, pitching four companies in her first year (double the required number of pitches) and seeing two of those companies added to The Fund’s portfolio.

The following year, she was promoted to sector manager, a role in which she now leads a team of four analysts and guides them through researching and developing pitches.

“I would love to be a CFO [chief financial officer] of a Newfoundland company.” — Lauren Rowsell

Ms. Rowsell is a former member of Enactus Memorial, where she dedicated much of her efforts to developing the projects SmartCookie and Reclaim. She earned a first-place finish with the financial literacy topic team at the Enactus national exposition in 2018.

She also spent a year volunteering with the Campus Lion’s Club to raise funds for the organization’s humanitarian objectives. She’s a private math tutor and works as a research assistant at the business faculty.

Before entering post-secondary, Ms. Rowsell dedicated eight years of service to the Boys and Girls Club/Community Youth Network in Botwood, helping to organize hundreds of community events and fundraisers.

“For me, university was very much self-discovery,” she said. “I would say that I’m still kind of finding my direction. It’s been a great journey.”

The road ahead

Ms. Rowsell will begin work as a staff accountant at Ernst & Young in September, but she doesn’t plan on resting post-graduation: She’ll start working on the chartered professional accountants program later this spring.

“I’m jumping right in,” she joked.

Eventually, she hopes to lead the financial side of a local business.

“I would love to be a CFO [chief financial officer] of a Newfoundland company. I do really like Newfoundland and Labrador, and I want to stay here.”

Ms. Rowsell was recognized with the other award recipients at a virtual ceremony on March 18.

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