About This Scholarship

Donor Biography

Leon Chidester, born in Highland, Utah in 1937, was a dedicated educator and a passionate advocate for foreign language instruction. Raised on a family farm, he developed a strong work ethic and a deep appreciation for the importance of education. Leon's academic journey began at Brigham Young University, where he met his future wife, Irma Brown. Their love story endured his service in the New Mexico/Texas Spanish-speaking mission, as Irma patiently waited for his return. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on November 23, 1960, and went on to raise six children together.

Upon completing his mission, Leon immersed himself in his studies, obtaining a Bachelor's and Master's degree from BYU, then pursued a Ph.D. at Arizona State University. Leon dedicated 35 years of his career to teaching Spanish at Southern Utah University. His mastery of the subject and his ability to connect with his students made him a beloved figure on campus.

Leon's teaching prowess was recognized with numerous accolades, including the titles of SUU's Outstanding Educator and Distinguished Educator. He constantly strived to implement cutting-edge approaches in language instruction, ensuring his students had the best possible learning experience. Beyond his academic pursuits, Leon found solace and creativity in writing poetry. His literary work was published multiple times, and he received several awards for his contributions to the art form. Leon's impact on the educational community and his dedication to fostering a love for language learning was truly remarkable.

In his final wish, Leon expressed his desire for donations to be made to the E. Leon Chidester Scholarship Fund at Southern Utah University in lieu of flowers. This scholarship fund aims to support aspiring language students and honor Leon's lifelong commitment to education.

Irma Brown Chidester, Leon's devoted wife, has also played an integral role in the field of education. A graduate of Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, Irma initially served as a 1st Grade teacher in the Nebo School District in Utah County. She made the decision to pause her career to focus on raising their family, becoming a constant source of support and inspiration for Leon throughout his endeavors. Together, they opened their home to Leon's students, inviting them to enjoy homemade tacos and engaging conversations in both Spanish and English.

Irma's commitment to education extended beyond the classroom. She actively participated in various religious positions within their local community, leaving a lasting impact on those she served. Irma's dedication to fostering a love for learning is evident in the accomplishments of their children. All six of Leon and Irma's children have obtained university degrees, with four of them choosing careers in the education field, serving at the elementary, secondary, and university levels.

The Chidesters' lives have been characterized by an unwavering dedication to education, both as practitioners and as advocates. Their legacy as educators and their commitment to promoting language learning continues to inspire others.

Scholarship Criteria

Awarded to deserving student from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences majoring in Spanish.


Humanities and Social Sciences


Languages and Philosophy


Varied Dollars/yr


  • Opening: November 1
  • Final: March 1

If you any questions about your financial aid or need help applying for a scholarship you can contact the Financial Aid Office at finaid@suu.edu or call (435) 586-7735.