Kelly Wins Waller Scholarship

CLSE and AFSA Award $4,000 to OSU Student

Each year, the Center for Life Safety Education (CLSE) and the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) come together to award the Thomas S. Waller Memorial Scholarship to one junior or senior enrolled in the Fire Protection and Safety Technology program at Oklahoma State University (OSU). The Thomas S. Waller Memorial Scholarship is $4,000 in scholarship funds, paid directly to the OSU student’s account. The winner for the 2018-2019 academic year is Leigh Kelly, a junior studying fire protection safety technology. 

Kelly became interested in fire protection technology with his introduction to the fire service in Skippack, Pennsylvania. “My grandfather was the fire chief of the neighboring township and my father was heavily involved in the fire service as well as teaching at the fire academy.”

He continues: “I could not think of a better way to utilize my abilities than to design and test fire-protection and life-safety components and systems for real-life application and maintain the protection features that no one else thinks twice about.”

Over the past four years, Kelly has served as a volunteer firefighter. “Through this enterprise, I have developed a larger sense of integrity, enhanced communication skills, and the ability to work with flexibility and adaptability under pressure. My passion to help people has manifested in the fire service and my love for training and bettering myself has had no better stage.”

Kelly has been very active on campus. He is a member of the Fire Protection Society and serves on the Training Committee, a traveling member of the Firefighter Combat College, and was a CEAT representative for the Society of Fire Protection Engineers during his sophomore year. Kelly has also served others, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout in 2013 and traveling on mission trips for Life Builders.

Kelly was excited to learn he had received the Waller scholarship. “I’m most thrilled to hear this! I know that it will go a long way for me.”

He continues: “When I graduate from Oklahoma State in May of 2020, I would love to be able to begin applying my passion for life safety in the design or review of fire suppression systems. I would love to start a career somewhere in the Northeast, but I am still keeping my future open to new experiences.”

Professor Leslie Stockel notes that Kelly is an excellent student. “He fully participates and is engaged in lectures and labs. His academic performance in my classes has been excellent.”

Professor Robert Agnew agrees. “Character is in fact what you think about when you think of Mr. Kelly. He is determined and a hard worker. He exhibits this in both his academics and in his performance at the Firefighter Combat College events.”

The Thomas S. Waller Memorial Scholarship was established in 2006 to honor the man who devoted more than 40 years to the fire protection industry. It has provided nearly $40,000 to OSU FPST students. The scholarship is presented to juniors or seniors enrolled in the FPST program in the College of Engineering, Architecture & Technology at OSU, which is the oldest fire/safety-related program in North America and is the nation’s only ABET-accredited FPST program. As CLSE is a 501(c)(3) educational affiliate of AFSA, all contributions made to this scholarship fund re tax-deductible. To make a one-time donation or become a regular donor, visit

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