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The Leslianne Shedd Memorial Fund – Helping students gain meaningful experience across the globe

May 5, 2021

The Leslianne Shedd Memorial Fund was established by the generous gifts of Leslianne Shedd’s family, friends and others who wished to pay respects to her. Their generosity laid the foundation for what has become a successful internship assistance program at the University of Washington.

The fund is administered by the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, but scholarships are open to students across the UW campus. Historically, over half of the scholars come from the Jackson School and the remainder come from the School of Public Health, the School of Medicine and other units across campus. Scholars are selected based on academic performance and their expressed interest in a career with the U.S. Foreign Service, the United Nations, an NGO, or a public health career in an underserved area.

Shedd Scholars gain valuable experience for future careers and have the opportunity to do important work before they graduate. Public health service in Senegal, advocacy for women in Cambodia, and studying human rights in Rwanda are just a few examples of how the scholars have used this support.

Shedd Scholars remain dedicated to helping others around the world after their graduation and continue to make significant impacts in their chosen careers. A recent survey of Shedd Scholars found that they are serving as U.S. Foreign Service officers, employed at major philanthropic foundations, working as doctors, studying law, exploring the world as Peace Corps volunteers, holding important positions in public and global health, starting socially responsible businesses, teaching at universities, and sitting on boards of NGOs.

By exposing students to real-world experience and helping them prepare for careers that make a difference, the fund upholds Leslianne Shedd’s legacy. Each year, new Shedd Scholars are empowered to explore their interests and find new ways to improve the world.

Leslianne Shedd: A life with lasting impact

Leslianne SheddThe endowment that bears Leslianne Shedd’s name began in 1998 as a response to her untimely and tragic death. Today, Leslianne is remembered for her passion, service, and the deep impact of her life — a life that touched numerous people and always showed a selfless dedication to the world community.

Leslianne graduated from Puyallup High School at the top of her class and earned a degree in international studies from the UW’s Jackson School. Her travels took her to more than 30 countries. She spoke four languages and was in the process of learning her fifth.

On November 23, 1996, Leslianne was on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 when it was hijacked. The plane eventually crashed after running out of fuel, killing her and 126 other people. Leslianne was 28 at the time, working at the US embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a position she had dreamed of since her teens. Officially, she was responsible for helping US companies do business in Ethiopia. In reality, Leslianne was aiding counterterrorism efforts as a member of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

After her death, Leslianne was honored by the State Department and remembered specifically for the way she comforted those around her during the final moments of the doomed flight. In 2012, when Leslianne’s work for the CIA was made public, her name was recorded in the agency’s Book of Honor at a special ceremony.

Her hope was to train in emergency medicine, particularly medicine dealing with tropical illnesses, to provide healthcare in Africa. Today, her dream continues through the Leslianne Shedd Memorial Fund.