First Matelich Scholarships Awarded to Two Promising Young Leaders

August 16, 2012

TACOMA, Wash. – Joel Eklof, of Bremerton, Wash., and Alec Pankow, of Ketchikan, Alaska, have been named University of Puget Sound’s inaugural Matelich Scholars, honoring them with the college’s most prestigious award for students who combine extraordinary promise in academics and leadership.

The Matelich Scholarship is awarded to incoming freshmen who exhibit exceptional drive and integrity, promise for outstanding academic and personal achievement, a commitment to service, and the capacity for a life of leadership.

The scholarship is funded by a generous gift from George E. Matelich ’78 and Susan E. Matelich to Puget Sound’s $125 million One [of a Kind] comprehensive campaign. Thirty students are invited to apply each year to become Matelich Scholars, out of a pool of about 7,000 applicants to Puget Sound. The scholarship covers all tuition and fees, including room, board, and other fees, for up to four years of undergraduate education at University of Puget Sound.

Joel Eklof (Bremerton, Washington)

Joel Eklof was an AP Scholar with Distinction at Central Kitsap High School, where he maintained a 3.96 GPA. He is also a talented three-sport athlete, having held the role of captain for the football, wrestling, and track teams.

Eklof joined his church at the age of 12 and serves in the children’s ministry every week, in addition to mentoring junior high students. His pastor comments that “because of his work ethic, intelligence, and huge heart, Joel has incredible potential to do good in the world.”

A passionate observer of world water issues, Eklof hopes to double major in physics and science, technology, and society so he can “understand the complicated relationship between human life and science” and start using his education to solve problems affecting humanity.

Alec Pankow (Ketchikan, Alaska)

Alec Pankow attended Ketchikan High School where he maintained a 4.0 GPA. He led several student organizations, ran cross country, and played for the school’s soccer team. He also plays jazz piano and was recently chosen to play for the All-Alaska Jazz Band.

In May Alec was named a 2012 U.S. Presidential Scholar. He is one of only 141 students across the country to receive this honor from the White House. During the summers Pankow works at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center as a Forest Service interpreter. There he presents talks about the cultural and natural history of the Tongass National Forest. He also designed a plant taxonomy curriculum for Girl Scouts and led the annual Deer Mountain Nature Hike.

Pankow values the sense of community that comes from living on Revillagigedo Island in Alaska. He is a volunteer youth soccer coach, works with his church to feed the hungry, and helps serve the elderly and the young. Pankow notes that “community service isn’t peripheral, it is central.”

About the Matelich Scholar Program

The Matelich Scholar Program was established in 2010 through the generosity of George E. Matelich ’78 and Susan E. Matelich, who wish to provide future generations of students with the opportunity to pursue a life-changing Puget Sound education. Both were the first members of their family to graduate from a four-year college. George Matelich is a managing director of Kelso & Company, a director of the American Prairie Reserve, a member of Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council, and treasurer of the University of Puget Sound Board of Trustees. Two Matelich Scholars are selected each year from the incoming freshman class.

For information about eligibility for the Matelich Scholar program, contact the Office of Admission at 800.396.7191 or visit

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