Stacia Panko is this year’s recipient of the Barbara and Jack Gregson Memorial Award, given to a student in the environmental sciences program. (Submitted photo)

Stacia Panko is this year’s recipient of the Barbara and Jack Gregson Memorial Award, given to a student in the environmental sciences program. (Submitted photo)

Local student wins sole Gregson Memorial Award

A local student is the sole recipient of a monetary award given through Thompson Rivers University.

Stacia Panko, who hails from Clearwater, was awarded the Barbara and Jack Gregson Memorial Award through a virtual ceremony held on Dec. 3. The award is given to one student enrolled in the environmental sciences, with a preference to biology and/or ecology, and is worth $1,000.

Panko is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Natural Resource Sciences (NRSC) program and is in the fourth year of her studies. She started her schooling off by taking two years in the Bachelor of Science program, and switched over to the NRSC program last year.

While she isn’t completely sure what she will do when she graduates, Panko knows she would like to do something related to ecosystem reclamation and restoration.

Panko has lived in Clearwater for 20 years, and even after she graduates, she thinks she’ll stick around.

“I think there are enough opportunities in the area to keep me here, especially in a small town where employers in my field might have trouble bringing in employees,” she told the Times. “I would like to be able to service the area that I grew up in and give back to the community.”

She chose the NRSC program because of the hands-on components and practical nature of the classes. The Bachelor of Science program just wasn’t for her, as she wasn’t feeling motivated or inspired by the classes she was in. Now, Panko loves what she is doing.

“I have always been interested in looking after our natural environment,” she said. “The NRSC program has given me the tools to pursue a career with that interest in mind!”

When she found out she had won the award, she couldn’t believe it, as, “I did not expect anything good to come out of 2020!” adding there are many qualified students in the program, so was grateful that she was chosen.

The $1,000 award will go towards Panko’s tuition next semester, as she is taking a full courseload of five classes.

The ceremony for the award was held over Zoom, with all five of the Gregson children on the call — two of them are in Australia, which Panko said was very impressive considering the time difference.

“It was an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to meet and speak with all of them,” she said. “I realized I alread knew Petrina Gregson from strings group I was part of several years ago when I was still in high school, she plays the cello and I played violin. It was a lovely surprise to see someone I recognized on the call and it made an easy flowing conversation even easier.

“I learned a lot about Jack Gregson, the namesake of this award, and his contribution to the Kamloops community.”

Panko’s university experience thus far has been “diverse and really fun,” adding she has enjoyed the experiences and appreciate the friends she’s made along the way. She’s still been able to be active in the TRUSU Eco Club over Zoom, which she has been co-president of for the last year.

“This is my first full semester not being face-to-face, but the NRSC faculty have done an exceptional job of adapting to this online world.”