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Awards For Long-time Nurse, Artist, And Former Airport Manager

UCOL Whanganui is set to present three special awards at its March 19 Graduation ceremony.

Allan MacGibbon will receive UCOL’s Honorary Fellow Award for his contribution to education, tourism, and economic growth in the region. The Honorary Fellow Award is UCOL’s highest honorary award and is presented to individuals whose contributions go well beyond what is normally expected in their professions.

MacGibbon is a long-time proponent for regional economic growth, education, and tourism in Whanganui. MacGibbon helped forge strong relationships between education providers, local government, and the community, and contributed to creating education 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 will receive the Institutional Medal. The Institutional Medal 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 the Manawatū Polytechnic (now UCOL) before becoming a Nursing Lecturer. He later 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 will receive UCOL’s Alumni Achievement Award after amassing an impressive body of work as an artist and sculptor. The Alumni Achievement Award is presented to UCOL alumni who have made significant accomplishments in their business or professional life.

Originally from the Phillipines, Serrano graduated from UCOL Whanganui in 2016 with a Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Graphic Design. Serrano secured employment with Weta Workshop before he finished his diploma and is now a Senior 3D Artist at Weta. Serrano has worked on feature films such as Power Rangers, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Men in Black: International, and I Am Mother.

UCOL Council Chair Ben Vanderkolk says all recipients are 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.”


Additional information and bios:

The UCOL Whanganui Graduation Ceremony will be held on Thursday 19 March in the Royal Wanganui Opera House at 1.00pm.


Allan MacGibbon

Allan MacGibbon is a long-time proponent for regional economic growth, education, and tourism in Whanganui.

Allan was the Whanganui District Council’s Economic Development Manager from 2008 to 2014. In this role he worked to maintain UCOL’s long-term presence in Whanganui and develop closer relationships with UCOL. He managed the Whanganui Glass School (now NZ Glassworks) and was part of the joint Whanganui District Council-UCOL Taskforce that looked at ways to bring tertiary education and community interests closer together.

Allan was instrumental in the establishment of INTRANZ, a Whanganui based training facility that delivered trades and industry-based training.

While working as Whanganui Airport Manager, Allan led the runway upgrade and terminal rebuild. He was instrumental in establishing international aviation training in Whanganui, managing the purchase of Flight Training Manawatu and assisted in establishing it in Whanganui as the New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy. As interim CEO, he managed its registration, certification, and curriculum development.

Allan served on the NZ Airport’s Association Board for nine years, representing small regional airports and highlighting their importance to New Zealand. In 2016 he was awarded the Association’s Beca Airport Personality of the Year for his commitment to New Zealand’s regional airports and to Whanganui Airport.

Gene Lewis-Clarke – Institutional Medal

Gene Lewis-Clarke began his nursing career in 1969 and went on to be a long-time Lecturer at UCOL. He started off as a part-time Student Health Clinic Nurse at the Manawatū Polytechnic and became a full-time Bachelor of Nursing Lecturer in 1998.

Gene transferred to UCOL’s Wairarapa campus to teach the Bachelor of Nursing and later taught the first Diploma in Enrolled Nursing cohort at UCOL Whanganui. He also worked at former satellite units in Kaitaia, Whangarei, Gisborne, and Greymouth.

Gene was instrumental in organising and supporting marae experiences and hui for

UCOL’s Nursing programmes. He also encouraged and supported Māori and Pacific

students to attend the annual Te Kaunihera o Nga Neehi Māori (National Council of Māori Nurses) conference, driving students there and attending in support. In 2009, Gene coordinated the conference in Wairarapa.

Gene has been a much loved and respected member of the Nurse Education team and was committed to helping his students succeed. Gene built such a strong connection with his

students that some would call him “Koro” or “Papa”.

Gene’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 – Alumni Achievement Award

Ryan Serrano is a Senior 3D Artist for Weta Workshop. As well as digital sculpting, Ryan has a great talent for drawing, painting, and hand sculpting.

Originally from the Philippines, Ryan came to UCOL in 2015 to study the Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Graphic Design. He had previously completed a Bachelor in Fine Arts (Advertising Arts) at the University of Santo Tomas, which was followed by four years working in post-production/visual effects, game design, and toy design/sculpting.

Ryan secured his job at Weta Workshop before he even finished his studies at UCOL. Since then, Ryan has lent his talents to a variety of Weta Workshop projects. He helped build costumes for feature films such as Power Rangers, Pacific Rim: Uprising, and I Am Mother, and helped design props for Men in Black: International. Ryan has also sculpted Weta collectables and Te Papa exhibits.

Ryan has an impressive portfolio of freelance work, having sculpted licenced statues and figurines for properties such as Marvel and DC. Ryan’s freelance work has seen him work with notable collectable manufacturers in the United States and Asia, including DC Collectibles, Kotobukiya, and XM Studios.

See Ryan’s work at

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