Science meets business

Growing up beside the Salish Sea, Matias Totz was drawn to marine life that he believes can be the key to unlocking fresh solutions to environmental problems. 

“There are tons of future business opportunities based on innovation in the natural world,” says Totz, who has moved to Calgary from Victoria, B.C. to start his Bachelor of Commerce degree — an opportunity made possible by the Richard and Lois Haskayne Legacy Scholarship.

Totz foresees using green technologies to clean plastics from oceans, experimenting with sea plants to create new food and medical supplies, and using the unique characteristics of many fish species to model engineering improvements in everything from cars to windmill blades to airplanes.

Taking apart problems and building innovative answers is part of Totz’s creative DNA. He grew up in Victoria, B.C. within a family of engineers. He was obsessed with Lego as a child and yearned to be a Lego designer — the ultimate job where he could build Lego creations all day.

Now, he’s set his sights on determining how society can benefit from science and business working together, while always considering how he can give back to the wider community.

Throughout high school, he volunteered weekly in a wide range of roles. “Being a ‘music and memory program for seniors’ volunteer touched me the most. I witnessed how doing something so simple as sharing music with a lonely or cognitive-impaired senior could drastically improve their quality of life.”

It’s that combination of entrepreneurial and community spirit that earned Totz the prestigious Richard and Lois Haskayne Legacy Scholarship, which recognizes exceptional academic merit and promise in students as well as contribution to school and community life.

Student awards, funded by generous donors, play a significant role in helping to prepare and inspire the leaders of tomorrow. Haskayne School of Business Dean Jim Dewald underscored this when the scholarship was announced.

“The Haskayne family has been incredibly generous to the University of Calgary and I am so grateful that their ongoing support will enable distinguished students to get an incredible education,” said Dewald. “Our students benefit with a world-class scholarship, our school benefits by recruiting high-achieving students and, ultimately, our community benefits when we invest in our youth.”

Indeed, an investment in Totz is an investment in the community. Though he hasn’t been in Calgary long, he’s already serving his new community as a student medical response peer volunteer and volunteer fire warden — on top of his roles as president of the Academic Council Committee, VP of events for the Business and Entrepreneurship Academic Council, and a team captain in the intramural competitive basketball league. 

Receiving a named scholarship of this magnitude is truly life changing . . . The generosity of Lois and Richard Haskayne is inspirational, and I hope that someday I too can help change the lives of others.

Matias Totz

Richard and Lois Haskayne Legacy Scholarship recipient

At UCalgary, Totz is also excited about SOAR (Student Organization for Aerospace Research), a student-led rocketry team with students from multiple faculties that competes annually in New Mexico. 

“It’s an amazing opportunity for engineering, science, business and arts students to collaborate and apply what we learn in school to real-world design challenges,” says Totz.

Two years ago, a NASA astronaut challenged Totz and other high school students to innovate in the SHAD Canada competition, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) and entrepreneurship program. Totz’s team designed a bracelet to measure poison air from wildfires and created a business plan for their prototype, winning the top prize for the product design challenge. 

Totz is the second recipient of The Richard and Lois Haskayne Legacy Scholarship, which is among the largest student awards on the University of Calgary campus. The $500,000 gift from Richard and Lois Haskayne will provide five undergraduate students with a $100,000 scholarship.

“Receiving a named scholarship of this magnitude is truly life changing,” says Totz. “It has given me a huge boost of confidence and energized my ambitions to do well both inside and outside of school. The generosity of Lois and Richard Haskayne is inspirational, and I hope that someday I too can help change the lives of others.”

To learn more about giving and how your support makes a difference, contact our giving team.

Richard and Lois Haskayne

Thanks to a generous gift of $500,000 from Richard and Lois Haskayne (above), five Bachelor of Commerce students will get a full-ride scholarship through their program.

Marnie Burkhart, Jazhart Studios

What Giving Gives Me  

While it’s nice for me to have our name associated with the university, the people who are going to establish the reputation over time are the students. It’s up to them to get the very best education from the best business school available and that’s what we are trying to do.

Richard Haskayne

The Richard and Lois Haskayne Legacy Scholarship was created by a gift from the Haskayne family