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Burke O’Leary Memorial Scholarship

Burke O’Leary was an exceptional school psychologist for over 35 years in California, Nevada, and Washington. For 22 years, he served students in multiple schools in the Tumwater School district, culminating with Black Hills High School and Littlerock Elementary. Burke was always a strong
advocate for his Special Education/IEP students. Because he experienced some challenges in his own educational journey before finding his life’s passion for education, he was invested in helping his students to persevere in the face of their own challenges. Burke consistently put students first and savored their achievements. He was thorough, compassionate, and sometimes unconventional, often thinking outside the box to ensure that his students would succeed in their own unique way.

Burke was happiest being with his family – his wife Lin and his children Colin and Maura. He particularly loved traveling with them and sharing a passion for the outdoors. Burke was an avid biker, hiker, fly fisherman, swimmer, kayaker, and golfer. He enjoyed traveling the world, embarking on many amazing adventures, from meeting whales in Mexico to climbing an 18,000 foot peak near Mt. Everest. He is remembered by all as an enthusiastic and fun-loving guy that everyone loved to be around.

To honor Burke’s memory and legacy, his family has created this scholarship to provide financial assistance to a student from Black Hills High School, Tumwater High School, Cascadia High School, or the Tumwater Virtual Academy who plans to attend a vocational school or college to continue their educational journey and achieve their life goals, in whatever form that may take.


  • Applicant must be a graduating senior from Black Hills High School, Tumwater High School, Cascadia High School, or the Tumwater Virtual Academy.
  • Applicant must be planning on attending a vocational school, community college, or four-year institution, with the intent of obtaining a certification or degree. Scholarship amount will be sent directly to the school of choice.
  • Any student may apply. Participation in team sports and/or high academic standing are not criteria for this scholarship. Preference will be given to students who meet any of the following criteria:
    • Students who had an IEP during their K-12 education
    • Students who are interested in a career in education or psychology
    • Students who enjoy outdoor activities, such as biking, walking, or fishing


  • Complete a Tumwater Education Foundation Scholarship Application.
  • In 250 words or less, describe how this scholarship would help you achieve your life goals.
  • In 150 words or less, please specify which criteria, if any, you meet from the list above.
  • Include a letter of recommendation from an educator who knows you well, such as a teacher, school psychologist, or case manager. You are encouraged to share the background information above with your recommender.
  • The scholarship is renewable for a second year, with provision of a transcript from the first year.