Ballenas grad Gibson Clark, seen here in Comox while job shadowing 19-Wing Air Maintenance Squadron last summer, has won a scholarship worth $100,000 to pursue engineering at UBC. — Submitted by Gibson Clark

Ballenas student awarded $100,000 scholarship

Gibson Clark to pursue mechanical engineering at UBC

With the worries of high school over for many graduating students, and the anxiety of paying for post-secondary education looming for others, there’s one soon-to-be university student who has no concerns.

Ballenas Secondary School’s Gibson Clark was recently named a Schulich Scholar — an award that comes with a $100,000 scholarship.

With 25 $100,000 scholarships awarded to students pursuing an engineering degree every year, and 25 $80,000 scholarships for those pursuing a science, tech or math degree, Clark is one of 50 lucky graduating students receiving a Schulich scholarship across Canada.

Begun in 2012 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Seymour Schulich, Schulich Leader Scholarships exist in both Canada and Israel.

In Canada, students are chosen from all high schools and Cégeps — French pre-university colleges — based on academic excellence, leadership qualities and/or financial need.

Clark said he received a call about winning the award at the end of April.

“I was kind of in awe,” said Clark. “Many kids, in their graduating year, their biggest stressors on top of getting into their program and the school they want to go to are, ‘How are you going to pay for tuition? How am I going to afford a place to stay?’

“Meal plans are so expensive. Those were my thoughts, so when I got the call from the UBC Schulich Committee, I was just absolutely shocked because everything I’ve been worrying about for the last year was suddenly no longer a worry of mine.”

Clark’s ambition for some time has been to study engineering, so for the past several years he’s done his best to find ways to fund his education, he said.

But he hadn’t heard of the Schulich scholarship until this year, when his physics instructor, Carl Savage, told him about a Ballenas grad, Kyle Wamer, who had received a Schulich scholarship in 2012 .

In applying for the scholarship, students are asked what their greatest achievements are, and Clark said for him, it’s managing to pursue so many of his interests in addition to achieving academic excellence.

That included participating in Ballenas’ athletics program, being a part of robotics and mathematics clubs, playing hockey outside of school and his classes.

Asked where his interest in engineering comes from, Clark said, “I’ve just always loved applying science to reality.”

He hopes to earn a degree in mechanical engineering, then go on to a masters aerospace program, as Savage helped to inspire Clark’s passion for space exploration.

Clark is careful to note that ambition could very well change as he learns more about the engineering world at UBC.

Clark added that the help of Savage, his Grade 12 counsellor, Shannon Confortin, and the community as a whole played an invaluable role in his achievements.

In addition to the financial side, the award is also “a boost of confidence and self esteem that hard work does pay off, and with persistence and support, a lot of support, and determination, your goals actually are obtainable,” Clark said.

“I was so honoured to get the recognition of such an award and, frankly, shocked. And now, I’m really, really excited to see what I can do with it.”

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