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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


Leigh Wensman, a graduate of Bishop Kelly High School in Boise, Idaho, and the daughter of Joseph and Connie Wensman of Boise, is this year’s recipient of the Steele-Reese Scholarship at Reed College. The scholarship provides financial aid to students from small, rural towns in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, or Oregon who have the ability and motivation to benefit from higher education. Wensman received $17,520 toward tuition, room and board, and other academic expenses.

In addition to her studies at Reed, where she is a first-year student, Wensman is involved in the college student newspaper and spends time in a volunteer program linking Reed with a local middle school, where she creates and teaches after-school curricula, assists teachers in the classroom, and tutors a group of sixth-graders. Wensman is also in the operator training program at Reed’s research reactor.

"I think I have found a place where I can finally be challenged," said Wensman, "and a place where the students are willing and able to engage in intellectual debate."

The Steele-Reese Foundation was created in 1955 by Eleanor Steele Reese, a native New Yorker who grew up in a world of affluence and ease; her father was a partner of J.P. Morgan's. She pursued a serious musical career as an opera singer and recitalist. She moved to Shoup, Idaho, in 1941 after marrying Emmet P. Reese. Together they bought and operated a small working ranch in Shoup and later moved to a large spread in nearby Salmon, Idaho, which they operated until a few years before her death in 1977. They led a simple, strenuous life maintaining the ranch and their herd of Hereford bulls. The attitude behind their philanthropy was as firm and unsentimental as every aspect of their life on the ranch: they wanted to help people and organizations help themselves.

The foundation’s first preference for scholarships is for recipients from high schools in Idaho's Lemhi or Custer Counties.

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