Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Distinguished Alumni Winners Announced

  Posted on: March 13, 2014

Thompson Rivers University Alumni and Friends Association is honouring four Distinguished Alumni at its annual awards ceremony April 11 in the TRU Grand Hall.

See below for this year’s keynote speaker and winners.

Tickets and schedule
$80 per person, $50 for TRU students, and $640 for a table of eight.

► Buy tickets online.

Cocktails are at 6 p.m., dinner and awards at 7 p.m.

Keynote Speaker

Lane Merrifield, is co-founder of Club Penguin and former executive vice-president of Disney Online Studios.

Lane Merrifield — keynote speaker for 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Lane Merrifield

Merrifield helped create and launch Club Penguin in 2005, and as CEO played an integral role in its phenomenal growth and continued success as one of the largest digital brands for children.  This success led to a partnership with the Walt Disney Company which acquired Club Penguin in August of 2007.

Merrifield left his role at Disney Online Studios last year to return to his entrepreneurial roots, pursue new ventures, and find ways of giving back to the community. Inspired to focus on the challenges facing teachers in the 21st century classroom, Merrifield co-founded a startup in the field of education called FreshGrade. FreshGrade is a cloud-based educational assessment tool that teachers, parents and students can use for insight into how a child learns.

Prior to his work with Club Penguin, Merrifield held various technical and marketing roles with a range of companies in Canada and the United States.  His first job was at Disneyland.

Merrifield has always maintained a passion for using technology to connect people in new and innovative ways. He and the Club Penguin team have been recipients of a BAFTA Award, several People’s Choice Awards, Parents’ Choice Awards, and a Webby Award. Lane has received an Honorary Fellows Award from Okanagan College and several leadership awards.

Lifetime Achievement Award (awarded posthumously)
Skye Buck, Bachelor of Education, 2010

This award recognizes an extraordinary individual, who through a lifetime of outstanding service reflects the spirit of the TRU Alumni & Friends Association and is a role model for those who follow.

Skye Buck — Distinguished Alumni Lifetime Achievement

Skye Buck

The late Skye Buck was a teacher in Clearwater before his tragic passing in December of 2012. He graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science and in 2010 from the TRU Bachelor of Education program. Buck then returned to teach in his home town of Clearwater. Not only an impressive educator and mentor, Skye was an exceptional athlete. In 2004 he was the UCC Male Athlete of the Year, BCCAA Player of the Year, CCAA College Player of the Year, CCAA All-Canadian, and was part of the bronze medal winning team at Nationals. During his time in a UCC uniform he won gold, silver and bronze medals. After completing his eligibility with UCC he went on to play professional basketball in London for the Essex Leopards.

After some time spent travelling Buck returned to his home town of Clearwater where he worked and coached volleyball and basketball for both boys and girls teams—he wanted to make sure every athlete at every level was given a chance. Buck was a community leader in Clearwater where he ran an after school program for at-risk students and made every student feel accepted. It was his life goal to be as good as he could be in every aspect of his life and he will be dearly missed by all those whose lives he touched. His legacy lives on as the community of Clearwater was recently the Grand Prize winner in the Aviva Community Fund – Courtney and Skye Buck Memorial Courtyard at Raft River Elementary.

Professional Achievement Award
Jason Paige, Computer Automated Systems Technician, 2005

This award recognizes alumni whose outstanding achievements have earned them regional, national or international prominence.

Jason Paige — Distinguished Alumni  Professional Achievement

Jason Paige

Jason Paige, President and CEO of Acres Enterprises Ltd., started his career in the construction industry when he was 16 years old. During university, he spent his summers working as a pipe layer with Acres Enterprises. Graduating from the Computer Automated Systems Technician program at University College of the Cariboo in 2005, Paige made the decision to pursue the opportunity he saw in the construction industry. With his work ethic, determination and drive, he worked his way to the top very quickly. Over a six-year period, he continued to take courses and certifications while working his way up through the ranks of the company quickly entering into management as a project manager, estimator and safety officer. In 2012 the goal he had pursued was achieved when he purchased Acres Enterprises and become the president and CEO. Paige currently strives to lead the company in their mission statement: Constructing Pride. Through his time at Acres, he has worked on numerous key industry projects and has been a key contributor to the trades industry on many levels. Paige has been involved in developing curriculum for secondary and post secondary education courses, he provides apprentice opportunities, funds industry courses, and is a TRU career mentor. He sponsors more than a dozen non-profit organization projects and events.

Grace Chronister BSW Award
Ken Salter, Bachelor of Social Work, 2000

This award recognizes outstanding achievements of TRU Bachelor of Social Work alumni whose endeavours in the community have brought honour to the social work program at TRU and the profession of social work.

Ken Salter — Distinguished Alumni Grace Chronister BSW

Ken Salter

Ken Salter is remembered during his time in the BSW program for his commitment to inclusion, equality and participation for all members of society, and for his desire to work at the front lines of the social work profession with severely disadvantaged people.

Immediately following graduation, he joined the Aids Society of Kamloops (ASK) becoming the fourth employee at, what was then, a small grass roots social service agency. Salter is now the longest-serving ASK employee and has assisted with the growth of the agency to the 65 full-time and 35 part-time employees now working for social justice for many of Kamloops’ most disadvantaged residents. While primarily responsible for outreach services, Salter consults and works in every service area including housing, health, harm reduction, services to people exiting the sex trade, mental health, and life skills.

Salter is a past member of the board of the Kamloops Food Bank and is also a founding member of the P.I.T. Stop food program at the Kamloops United Church.

He has served for many years as a field instructor for BSW students completing practicum internships at ASK and has given invited lectures in many BSW classes throughout the last decade. He has provided education and information to social workers at local events sponsored by the Thompson Nicola BC Association of Social Workers.

Salter is well known as a passionate golfer and spends much of his free time on the golf course. He also finds time to create beautiful landscapes on canvass with oil paint. He is also an amateur prospector and spends a lot of time in the creeks around Kamloops. Salter’s best friend is his dog, Max.

Milestone Achievement Award

This award recognizes the accomplishments of a group (business, association or service club) whose collective efforts have created an institutional milestone and made a unique contribution to the life and goals of TRU students and alumni.

CIBC has supported Thompson Rivers University for many years. CIBC’s contribution has been by way of philanthropy in the form of student financial awards, providing co-operative education experiences for students, and offering employment and training positions within its branches.  CIBC staff have also volunteered their time as mentors to TRU students, accepting speaking engagements at the university, and providing advice on curriculum development in the School of Business and Economics.

Rick Sallis is District Vice-President for CIBC and resides in Kamloops.  Rick currently sits as Chairperson of the TRU School of Business Advisory Board.  He has solid footing in his community through participation in CIBC Run for the Cure and the TRU Foundation.  A passionate supporter of Thompson Rivers University, Rick has three children who have graduated from, or are currently attending TRU.

CIBC recently presented TRU with $150,000 for financial awards to students in the School of Business and Economics.  This support will provide 70 renewable bursaries and scholarships in the Bachelor of Business Administration program over the next five years.

Neil Russell Student Leadership Award
Larissa Pepper

Larissa Pepper is a Human Resources major in the Bachelor of Business Administration.

TD Meloche Monnex Scholarship in Career Development
Janice Yeung


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