Ella Olesen Scholarship winner announced

FORMER St Ninian’s High School student Clare Christian is the winner of this year’s Ella Olesen Scholarship. Clare, 21, will follow a long line of local students in spending nine months among the 12,000 students at Idaho University from this summer.

The scholarship is named after the late Miss Ella Olesen, a former registrar of the university who died in 1985. Her Manx ancestry – her mother Margaret Teare was born in Ballaugh and emigrated to America in 1890 – led her to gift the scholarship in 1971. It is awarded annually to a female graduate who has been supported through her studies by the Department of Education. Forming the interview panel for this year’s scholarship were Education Minister Anne Craine MHK and Head of Legal and Administrative Services John Gill.

Clare, who lives in Auburn Road, Onchan, left St Ninian’s with four A-levels and 11 GCSEs. She was a school prefect and an active charity fund-raiser and she won a number of endeavour and achievement awards. She is due to graduate this summer from Keele University with a BA Hons in history with law. She is a member of her university’s athletic union, swimming club, law society and rock club. She is an avid reader and is keen on arts and crafts. As a life member of the Friends of Manx National Heritage, she has a keen interest in Manx history and culture that she is incorporating into her studies.

She said: ‘I was both surprised and delighted to be offered the Ella Olesen scholarship and the prospect of being able to follow a long line of Manx students who have studied at the University of Idaho is very exciting. To be able to learn a little bit about the culture of other international students and to share a little knowledge of our Island’s beauty, heritage and culture, of which I am very proud, is a fantastic opportunity which I am really looking forward to.’

Clare can expect a warm welcome from two former neighbours of Miss Olesen, who will help her settle into her new home. Phyllis and Duane LeTourneau – known as Granny and Grandpa Idaho – traditionally meet new scholars at the airport and provide them with a home away from home. Clare will be their 43rd guest from the Island (at its inception the scholarship benefited two students). After staying with Phyllis and Duane for a few days, Clare will move into university accommodation. The Global Village accommodation has been chosen by scholars for the past four years as it is newly built and provides an excellent opportunity to live alongside both international and American students.

Current scholarship holder Kirsty Pendlebury, 23, of Port St Mary, began studying in Idaho last August and will be there until May — hopefully continuing her online blog which we highlight on this site. Back in the Island for the Christmas and New Year break, Kirsty said: ‘I can’t begin to express my thanks to the Isle of Man Government for giving me this opportunity. I have made some lifelong friends in Idaho as well as experiencing some American traditions and cultures.
‘I’d like to congratulate Clare on behalf of all previous Ella Olesen scholars and tell her to make the most of every second of it. The experience has given all of us memories to cherish for life. I’d like to thank everyone at home for their support while I’ve been in Idaho and, most importantly, thank Duane and Phyllis LeTourneau, who have made me feel like part of their family.’