Kansas high school students Amanda Johnson and Reegan Innes have won Wichita State University's Harry Gore Memorial Scholarships.
And in a surprise announcement, WSU Foundation President Elizabeth King said the value of the scholarships would increase from $48,000 per student to $52,000. Innes and Johnson will receive $13,000 a year for four years to attend Wichita State.
Johnson is a senior at Wichita High School Northwest, and Innes is a senior at Mulvane High School in Mulvane, Kan.
The scholarships, awarded annually at Wichita State, recognize leadership and academic skills and are two of the largest undergraduate scholarships in Kansas.
Johnson is interested in studying finance at Wichita State.
She is vice president of Youth Entrepreneurship of DECA, an international association of marketing students, and placed first at the state DECA competition.
"Amanda qualified and attended the International DECA Conference Competitions this past spring. She applied her leadership abilities and the insights gained from this conference to helping recruit and build our Wichita Northwest DECA program and had a direct impact on the growth of our membership with her diligence, perseverance and enthusiasm," said Northwest marketing teacher Jeff Darr.
Johnson is active with the National Honor Society, is sports editor and reporter for the Northwest Explorer, and is a four-year varsity competitor and two-year state track and field qualifier.
Paul Wemmer, Johnson's summer internship employer, calls Johnson a natural leader.
"In my opinion, although she is absolutely not lacking in motivation, professionalism or knowledge, her biggest asset is her personality," Wemmer said. "Leaders not only have to lead by example, but they have to gain the respect of their followers."
Innes is interested in studying elementary education at WSU.
She is president of her school's Thespian Club and is a member of the Kansas Association of Youth, Students Against Destructive Decisions and National Honor Society.
Innes was chosen from her class to attend a leadership camp for HOBY – a national youth leadership development organization.
She is a member of her church praise band, is a varsity show choir member and is a member of the student council.
Her vocal director, Rachel Jansen, said: "Reegan has an enormous amount of potential to lead at WSU. I think she leads anyone who is around her, whether that be in music, academics, community service, dorm life or even just having fun. Reegan is one of those students you won't ever forget."
Innes has participated in several mission trips to Kansas City, Alabama and New Mexico, where she helped repair homeless shelters, prepared meals and cleaned up schools.
"The most impressive characteristic trait of Reegan is that she is a true advocate for all students," said science teacher Denise Woods. "Most students in high school seem to have a narrow focus and a 'me' perspective; Reegan does what is in the best interest for all students involved."
Johnson and Innes competed in the largest Distinguished Scholarship Invitationals in history, with 413 competitors.
To be invited to compete in the invitational, students must have a 24 or higher ACT score and a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA.
Gore scholarships have been awarded annually since 1954 to freshmen entering WSU who display outstanding potential for leadership. Theodore and Ralph Gore established the Harry Gore Memorial Scholarship in 1952.