A nurse, an artist and a former airport manager were honoured this week with special awards at UCOL Whanganui.
Former Whanganui Airport manager Allan MacGibbon received UCOL's Honorary Fellow Award for his contribution to education, tourism, and economic growth in the region. The award is UCOL's highest honorary gong and is presented to individuals whose contributions go well beyond that normally expected in their professions.
MacGibbon is a long-time proponent for regional economic growth, education and tourism in Whanganui. He helped forge strong relationships between education providers, local government and the community and contributed to creating educational opportunities in the region. Notably, he helped establish the New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy (NZICPA) while he was Whanganui Airport manager.
Former UCOL nursing lecturer Gene Lewis-Clark received the Institutional Medal. The award is presented to current or former UCOL staff who have made a significant contribution to UCOL or their field.
Lewis-Clarke worked as a student health clinic nurse at Manawatū Polytechnic (now UCOL) before becoming a nursing lecturer. He went on to teach at UCOL's Whanganui and Wairarapa campuses.
Lewis-Clarke's 50-plus year career in nursing also saw him work in hospitals, community settings and the medical unit of the military. In 2018 Gene was made a life member of Te Kaunihera o Ngā Neehi Māori.
Ryan Serrano received UCOL's Alumni Achievement award after amassing an impressive body of work as an artist and sculptor. The award is presented to UCOL alumni who have made significant accomplishments in their business or professional life.
Originally from the Philippines, Serrano graduated from UCOL Whanganui in 2016 with a post-graduate diploma in computer graphic design.
Serrano secured employment with Weta Workshops before he finished his diploma and is now a senior 3D artist at Weta. He has worked on feature films such as Power Rangers, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Men in Black: International and I Am Mother.
UCOL Council chairman Ben Vanderkolk said all recipients were incredibly worthy of their awards.
"Allan has been a champion of education, tourism and economic growth in Whanganui for many years and a valued supporter and advocate of UCOL. He has played a significant role in providing education opportunities for learners in Whanganui and ensuring new opportunities came to the region and community. We are delighted to formally recognise all he has done.
"Gene was a valued member of UCOL's Nurse Education team, and has shared his skills and knowledge across our campuses. He built a strong bond with many of his students that contributed to their success.
"Ryan's professional credits and portfolio are very impressive. Jobs at Weta Workshop are highly sought after, and we are proud to have our graduates there, working on major international films. Ryan's work contributes to UCOL Whanganui's reputation as a top quality educator of artists and designers, and it's exciting to see where his career will take him."
The three recipients were scheduled to receive their awards in March at the UCOL Whanganui graduation ceremony which was cancelled because of Covid-19 restrictions.
UCOL Whanganui campus manager Bronwyn Paul said the presentations were rescheduled to coincide with scholarship awards this week.
Paul said it has been a tough year for many UCOL students so scholarships are especially welcome.
"We wanted to celebrate and reward our students' tenacity, dedication and high achievement by making the 2020 scholarship ceremony one to remember. The generosity and support of our Whanganui donors has made this possible with some incredible students being recognised."
Almost $45,000 in scholarships was awarded to UCOL Whanganui students this year.