By Robin Brunet. Photo: Courtesy of Theresa Jang. L-R: Theresa Jang, Matteo Sotelo, Eunice Lowe. Originally published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Business Class magazine.
In today’s world, it can be tough to get a higher education. Students often face all sorts of challenges that can stop them from reaching their goals. That’s why the Eunice Lowe Award for Entrepreneurship Studies was created. This award gives at least $1,000 to one or more Gustavson BCom students who are confronted with financial or personal obstacles.
Earlier this year, third year BCom student Matteo Sotelo became the first recipient of the inaugural award.
“This is a huge stepping stone in helping overcome the barriers I have faced to reach this point. It has helped me remain focused and motivated on all that is ahead,” says Sotelo. A full-time BCom student, Sotelo is also working on a start-up called Grasp that aims to provide students with an engaging way to study.
The family of Eunice Lowe established the award to celebrate the accomplishments of a self-made businesswoman who, having emigrated to Victoria from Guangzhou, China in 1960 and was widowed 15 years later, defied tremendous odds and presided over the success of the Stephen Lowe Art Gallery. She also published several art volumes of her late husband’s work.
In announcing the award, Lowe’s daughter Theresa Jang remarked, “From her early childhood, Eunice has had a deep appreciation and yearning for higher education.” The award celebrates her accomplishments in addition to helping BCom students. “I celebrate women like my mom who have spent their lives fending off being marginalized and discriminated against, and yet have the grace to take tangible action and help remove barriers for others.”
To be considered for the award, applicants had to submit a statement about their academic and career goals, their financial or personal challenges and how these challenges are being overcome.
Sotelo’s initial interest in entrepreneurship was sparked at the age of five when his family moved to Canada from Mexico. “My dad was hard-working and always working on a business or two,” he says.
“I felt like I owed it to him to carry the entrepreneurial torch for our family—he and my mom do so much to create opportunities for us.”
Sotelo was named the first recipient of the Eunice Lowe Award for his outstanding resilience and resourcefulness in overcoming challenges. Despite facing adversity, he demonstrated exceptional initiative by seeking help from his peers and actively participating in various entrepreneurial activities. His involvement in the UVic Entrepreneurship Club, JDC West, the Applied Investment Management Course (an intensive, interdisciplinary course designed for students interested in finance) and other endeavors have enabled him to expand his skillset and establish a strong presence within the business community.
Furthermore, Sotelo’s commitment to his academic and professional pursuits is evident in his successful application for additional educational funding through the UVic Coast Capital Savings Innovation Centre’s PlanIt business plan competition.
He says, “I’m interested in so many things right now—entrepreneurship, tech, finance—as well as experiencing many extracurriculars and unique opportunities at Gustavson.”
The Eunice Lowe win is helping Sotelo remain focused and motivated as he continues his education and develops Grasp. “Receiving the award has afforded me with space to pursue my academic interests and participate in things like JDC West, AIMC and international exchange,” he says. “Without this support, these experiences wouldn’t be possible.”