June 14, 2001 Vol . 21, No. 4

No risk in Chan's future

By Roberta Staley

Assessing risk is right up Cedric Chan's (above) alley. And while his next, big step in academia is a bit of a monetary risk, the long-term benefits far outweigh any shortcomings.

Chan, 22, an A+ SFU actuarial science whiz, is heading south this fall to do a master's degree in financial mathematics at California's prestigious Stanford University. (He was also admitted into grad school at Cambridge University.)

Chan is the recipient of this year's $2,000 Watson Wyatt & Company scholarship for top actuarial student. The money will come in handy since Chan estimates Stanford University's tuition will cost his family – Vancouver florists who immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong six years ago – about $60,000 Cdn when he finally dons the mortar board.

Not that there's any risk that Chan won't be able to pay his parents back after graduation. Actuaries of Chan's calibre are in high demand internationally.

An actuary uses a combination of mathematical, statistical and financial skills to put a price tag on future risk. Governments, as well as consulting, insurance and banking firms, depend upon actuaries to help make crucial decisions.

Already, Chan has shown a flair for international work, spending three months with HCM International in Dublin, Ireland on an SFU co-op program.

Despite his experience, Chan is "very nervous" about his Stanford challenge – so nervous, in fact, he's squeezing in an extra math course before moving to California – just for that bit of an edge.

"I can't afford to fail," he quips. Not that there's any risk of that.

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