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Accepted to the University of Oxford after Huron

Matteo Maciel, BA’15
What’s unique about Huron is they identify and build upon the value of thinking creatively and being nimble – we see this theme very strongly across the board with our venerated alumni. That’s invaluable and it’s something a business degree alone can’t really teach you.

When Matteo Maciel arrived at Huron as a first-year student, he considered the Liberal Arts university as a means to fulfill his Ivey Business School AEO Status. However, while deciding how to best position himself for corporate success, he met Huron’s Chaplain and 2013 Doctor of Divinity recipient Bishop of Brandon, William Cliff, and Theology professor, Bill Acres.

“It wasn’t who I was expecting would influence my corporate career,” Matteo says of these mentors. But, they provided profound emotional, mental and academic support that encouraged him to fully invest in the learning process – rather than treating his education as a degree factory. “It was impressed upon me that Ivey was very good for financial consulting and accounting, but I needed to consider my strength was not number crunching, and Huron would magnify my potential by nurturing my gifts.”

“This is the level of individualized support I received from day one,” Matteo shares. “That academic challenge and interest in your well-being is markedly different from what you experience at other schools. I don’t think you’d find that level of investment into your development anywhere other than Huron.”

Matteo appreciates that Huron’s educational principles prevented him from being pigeonholed into a vision of business that only prioritizes its quantitative elements. Instead, his professors demonstrated the value and relevance of a Liberal Arts education to a rewarding business career. They did this by enhancing Matteo’s critical thinking skills and his ability to adapt to unforeseeable circumstances. Matteo grew to appreciate the full value of the unique educational experience Huron provides, and as he developed this understanding, he realized Ivey was no longer the right fit to nurture his aptitude for excelling at the human elements of generating a profit.

“There was a time where lots of people said you needed a business degree to do business. But, what really is a business? A business isn’t just numbers, it’s about people and producing something,” says Matteo. “What’s unique about Huron is they identify and build upon the value of thinking creatively and being nimble – we see this theme very strongly across the board with our venerated alumni. That’s invaluable and it’s something a business degree alone can’t really teach you.”

One of the alumni who deeply influenced Matteo’s career path is Richard McLaren, an internationally-renowned lawyer and Huron’s newest Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree recipient. Matteo met Richard at Homecoming, and this encouraged him to craft a paper about the Court of Arbitration for Sport. “The paper resulted in me participating on a legal team on a £80m refinancing deal for a top Spanish Club. That really whet my appetite for the complex, cross-jurisdictional work I craved and that demanded the nimble critical thinking skills I developed at Huron.”

In addition to facilitating Matteo’s connections with career-catalyzing alumni, Huron’s intimate environment also helped him establish meaningful relationships with his professors and peers. “Huron taught me how to network, and ironically, I came full circle back to business – just through a different lens.”

During his time at Huron, Matteo was heavily influenced by several British educators and that inspired him to want to be at Oxford or Cambridge one day. His new non-linear path led Matteo to undertake his law degree, where he was drawn to the cognitive challenge of insolvency, restructuring and financing instruments.

“The type of work currently being undertaken in London is extremely sophisticated and immensely interesting. It forces you to think globally and to be aware of how politics, social practices and world events affect the provision of legal advice,” Matteo explains. “Huron’s emphasis on critical thinking is at the core of my capacity to consider the broader picture and its implications and to apply this understanding in unique and useful ways. That familiarity with how theory can interplay with practice is immensely important in law and business.”

Matteo’s success in law school surprised even him: he finished first in the class overall for each year, which resulted in acceptances to the Oxford BCL, Cambridge, UCL and LSE LLMs. He was also published in the leading practitioner peer-reviewed journal Trusts & Trustees; and gained commercial experience at top international firms.

So, what would a reformed evangelist of the Liberal Arts movement say to current and potential Huron students? “You have the opportunity to be a part of one of Canada’s very best university experiences. This is the closest you will get to the American or British collegiate models of education where you really are immersed within a culture of excellence,” Matteo shares. “I have friends who went to university all over Canada, and it didn’t really impact them because they were never really ‘there.’ At Huron, you have to be there because that’s what the culture demands of you.”

By being present, engaged and involved in the academic and social aspects of Huron, Matteo embarked upon a life-changing educational experience that led to his successful admittance into one of the most prestigious postgraduate law programs in the world.