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Chairman of the National Commercial Bank (NCB) and AIC Limited, Michael Lee-Chin, has been conferred with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Toronto.
Chancellor of the University, Hon. David Peterson, conferred the honorary degree on Dr. Lee-Chin at the university’s recent Spring Convocation. Family, friends and business partners were on hand to witness the moment.
William Thorsell, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), read the citation, which described Dr. Lee-Chin as one of Canada’s leading entrepreneurs and philanthropists, whose honesty, humility and zeal for hard work were passed on from his mother, Gloria Chen.
Addressing the more than 500 graduates, who were about to receive first degrees in the fields of Arts, Science and Commerce, Dr. Lee-Chin told them that “the best time to start building your legacy is now; your behaviour today is your history tomorrow.”
He also advised them on the key ingredients for a fulfilled life, which are aspiration, an enduring value system, persistency, performance, risk taking and leadership by example. “This is perhaps the most essential instrument to encourage youngsters to demonstrate commitment and dedication towards any cause. Role models are powerful catalysts in raising the confidence, enthusiasm and energy level of an entire generation,” he stated.
Recalling the day in March 2002, when he signed papers to finalize the ownership of Jamaica’s largest bank, Dr. Lee-Chin said he was in awe. “How is it possible,” he asked himself at the time, “that a boy born in Portland, the son of two clerks could be buying the National Commercial Bank?”
“I did not choose my parents. I was blessed to have parents who set high standards and led by example. I did not choose my country; I was blessed to be born in a country that made me confident to be anybody I wanted to be. I am blessed because of the experiences I’ve had,” he stated.
He implored the new graduates to realize that they too are blessed and therefore have certain responsibilities to humanity.
Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Ann-Marie Bonner, in congratulating Dr. Lee-Chin, described him as a true ambassador for Jamaica and Canada. “He continues to make us proud through his visionary and trail-blazing entrepreneurial initiatives and on-going philanthropic efforts. He has gained the respect and admiration of many and is an inspiration to us all,” she stated.