Saanich’s Matias Totz has won a $100,000 scholarship to study commerce at the University of Calgary (Submitted).

Vancouver Island teen earns $100,000 commerce scholarship to the University of Calgary

Matias Totz is graduating from St. Michaels University School

Matias Totz wasn’t quite sure what to make of the message he received from an Alberta phone number. A few days earlier, the associate dean and dean at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business had interviewed Totz for the Richard and Lois Legacy Scholarship, the largest and most prestigious in the school’s history.

The scholarship is $100,000 over five years of undergraduate commerce studies at the university.

Nervous to discover whether he was about to receive good or disappointing news, Totz recognized the voice of the associate dean. “When I heard that she was excited to tell me something – my heart started racing,” he said. “After she told me that I had won a $100,000 scholarship, I was both stunned and ecstatic as it hit me that I had been selected for such an amazing opportunity.” He also said it was a nice touch to receive a personal phone call rather than an email.

“For me, it is an incredible honour to be selected for this unique opportunity and one which I will strive to make the most of,” he said.

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Totz, a Grade 12 student at Saanich’s St. Michaels University School, says he is still narrowing his university plans down in light of his broad academic interests that range from marine science to Mandarin to statistics.

He said his experience as a student with SHAD Canada, a program for high aptitude students in Grade 10 and 11 focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and/or mathematics (STEAM) and entrepreneurship. Totz said that program introduced him to the power of solving big problems through scientific entrepreneurship.

“I had the incredible opportunity to be a member of a small design team that innovated a bracelet to detect carbon monoxide poisoning and developed a complete business case for our new life-saving product,” he said. “This inspired me to apply for commerce at [U of C] because they offer an entrepreneurship and innovation concentration. I am also considering the International Business Strategy concentration, so that I can continue my studies in Mandarin.”

After his undergraduate, Totz hopes to pursue postgraduate studies in business and environmental sciences in either Canada or abroad.

As for his professional plans, Totz said he’s graduating into the Fourth Industrial Revolution during which rapid technological advancements will transform future workplaces. Over a third of essential skills required today will be obsolete in five years’ time, meaning that non-technical skills such as leadership, interpersonal communication, and creativity are rising in demand, he said.

“I believe a degree in business will help prepare me for this evolving future and allow me the flexibility to pursue a wide range of future career paths, some of which may not even exist today,” he said. “If I had to choose today, I would love to start up a company that innovates solutions for the world’s biggest environmental problems such as cleaning up our oceans or reducing food waste.”

Totz said winning this scholarship gives him “incredible confidence” in believing he can make a difference in the world.

“It will open up opportunities to become involved in the Calgary community, to develop my leadership skills in university clubs and athletics, take advantage of study abroad semesters, participate in business competitions, and make important connections with business leaders and other like-minded students,” he said. “I am incredibly grateful to Richard and Lois Haskayne and to the U Calgary School of Business for giving me the opportunity to discover myself through these diverse opportunities.”

This said, Totz said many people made this opportunity possible for him, especially his teachers and peers at SMUS, as well as the people with whom works or volunteers, and his family.


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