Student Life

Student of the Month


Storm chaser named April Student of the Month at Cowley

April 2003

Bren LeeteBren Leete wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but Tornado Alley. Since the Cowley County Community College freshman was 4 years old, he has been interested in weather, mainly severe weather. At age 7, he saw his first tornado. "We were coming back from space camp in Huntsville, Ala., and a tornado was coming down the road on 47th Street in Wichita," Leete said. "We knocked on the door of this house, and the woman inside happened to be deaf. About 50 yards before her house, the tornado jumped. It was an awesome sight." While most 7-year-olds would be terrified at the sight of a twister, that day 13 years ago only fueled Leete’s interest in one of Mother Nature’s most devastating acts. He’s so interested in it that he plans to transfer to the University of Oklahoma to study atmospheric sciences. Eventually, he wants a job at the National Severe Storms Forecast Center in Norman, but not sitting at a desk all day. "Weather research would be the ultimate job, but storm chasing is what I really want to do," Leete said. Leete, the son of Charles and Beverly Leete of Rose Hill, recently was named April Student of the Month at Cowley. The 2002 graduate of Rose Hill High School takes classes at Cowley’s north campus, where he serves as a Student Ambassador, has a work-study job as a student assistant, and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Mu Alpha Theta, and the Math and Science Club. He holds a 4.0 grade-point average. "I’m very excited to be April Student of the Month, because I know how much of an honor it is out of the thousands of students who attend Cowley," Leete said. "I watched some of the videos other students had done, and they’re all good students. I’m very pleased to receive this award." Leete earned straight A’s in high school, yet ranked fourth in his graduating class of 150 students. He said he worked hard in high school, and that work ethic has continued at Cowley. "A student of the month has got to be a loyal, honest person," Leete said. "And everything shouldn’t come easily. You have to work for your honors and be someone students look up to." Leete certainly isn’t afraid of work. Four years ago, he started building six-foot privacy fences, mainly for neighbors. Now, he’s working at promoting his business, E-Leete Fencing. And his work ethic in high school should pay nice dividends in the future. "I worked really hard in high school because I wanted to help pay for college," said Leete, who is attending Cowley on a tuition and book scholarship. "Plus, you have to have a base of courses in high school. I took four years of math, four years of science, and four years of English." Early in his senior year of high school, Leete applied for an internship with the National Weather Service office in Wichita. He finally received an e-mail a few weeks ago saying that he’d been accepted. He’ll start the first week of June and work through August. "I’ll learn a lot of weather researching and possibly join a storm chasing crew," Leete said. "Right now, I’m just an amateur storm chaser." From January through March 2002, Leete worked for KWCH-TV and chief meteorologist Merril Teller. "I did all of his (weather) graphics for the five and six o’clock news," Leete said. Currently, Leete is taking calculus II at Cowley’s Mulvane Center. He said people who seek careers in meteorology need more math and science than many engineers. "I should have a pretty good knowledge of the tools when I go to Norman and the Severe Storms Laboratory," he said. In his spare time, Leete enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities, including golf. "I’ve been playing since I was 4," he said. And, he’s accomplished something many golfers never do in a lifetime: a hole-in-one. "It was June 12, 2001, at Twin Lakes at McConnell (Air Force Base)," Leete said. "I was working out there. It was a par-3, and I used a 9-iron from 145 yards. It took two bounces and rolled in." While that provided a thrill, Leete has another hobby that also provides excitement: car racing. "I have a turbo-charged Honda Civic," he said. "I got it for about seventy-five hundred, but I’ve got about $15,000 into it." And there’s more. As if he’s not involved in enough, Leete is a four-year member of the Kansas Cornhusker Club, a group of University of Nebraska football fans based in Wichita. "I have season tickets," Leete said. "I’m a huge football fan, even though I didn’t play in high school. At OU, I’ll be wearing a little different color of red." Leete said he’s pleased with his decision to attend Cowley. "I love Cowley," he said. "The teachers are all very good, and they’re always there when you need them. You wouldn’t have that at a four-year college."