TACOMA, Wash. – A soccer team captain who lost everything in a fire and then re-created her life by helping others, and a young city council campaign manager aiming for an international political career are the 2017 recipients of the highly competitive Matelich Scholarship.
Anneke Fleming, of Eastsound, Wash., and Emma Piorier, of Saint Paul, Minn., were awarded the prestigious scholarship in recognition of their outstanding potential to excel academically and to succeed as inspirational leaders. The award covers tuition, fees, and room and board at University of Puget Sound for up to four years.
The scholarship is funded by a generous gift from George E. Matelich ’78 and Susan E. Matelich, and targets students who have the character and commitment to make a difference, and who demonstrate the motivation to positively impact their communities. Finalists were selected from a pool of about 300 applicants, who were among the 6,000 students applying to enroll at Puget Sound for fall 2017.
Fleming and Piorier are members of Puget Sound’s Class of 2021 and part of a cohort of Matelich Scholars named since the program began making awards in 2012.
Anneke Fleming (Eastsound, Wash.)
While traveling from Michigan with her family to a new home on Orcas Island, Anneke Fleming hit a predicament. The family had decided to enjoy the experience of relocating to the Pacific Northwest and were towing a 20-foot RV. Then, thousands of miles from home and in a place where they knew no one, the RV and all their belongings suddenly went up in fire.
A few weeks later Fleming started at Orcas Island High School. She was enrolled simultaneously with the highly selective Stanford Online High School. Once in class she joined the rowing team, and became captain. She joined the women’s soccer team, and again became captain.
An enterprising self-starter, Fleming helped organize Orcas Island’s first debate team and relaunched the school newspaper. She founded Tissues (Teen Issues), a group for teenage activism, and joined the Island Reproductive Health Initiative. She also co-taught English for Spanish speakers and co-founded a movement to make San Juan County a sanctuary for immigrants.
“I wedged myself into any gap I saw,” she wrote in her Matelich essay. “I continued to look around me and think, ‘What needs to be done?’ … My personal experience of loss and isolation motivated me more deeply to see how I could help people with similar challenges.”
Fleming plans to pursue biochemistry and public health, and aims to find ways to contribute to those in need. She will combine her Puget Sound studies with experiential learning, including enrollment in the Practicum in Clinical Bioethics. She also plans to join social justice clubs and to improve her Spanish so she can advocate for immigrant communities.
Emma Piorier (Saint Paul, Minn.)
“I was on picket lines before I was out of diapers,” wrote Emma Piorier in her Matelich essay. “I was raised as the daughter of a family that taught me the value of community, individual responsibility, and the power of uniting for a single cause.”
Piorier joins Puget Sound this fall with a portfolio of achievements in spheres where few teenagers dare venture. She did her first political internship just out of eighth grade and registered voters in public housing. “For the first time I was confronted with questions about mental illness, welfare, disability, and race in the context of voter accessibility,” she wrote.
At Great River School she became student council president and volunteered on campaigns for Twin Cities’ politicians. After working as a writing intern for Minnesota’s biggest political action committee, she applied for a job as campaign manager for her city council member. She won the post and became the youngest manager in the St. Paul Coordinate Democratic Farmer Labor Party Campaign.
“I learned how to ensure endorsements, prepare for a debate, and organize fundraisers, but I also learned a lot about myself and my role in politics as a young woman,” she wrote. That November, her candidate won.
Piorier, who excelled in International Baccalaureate courses at high school, now serves as a student leader for the Identity, Racial Awareness, and Cultural Education (IRACE) Summit. Outside of her political and social activism, Piorier also was a member of the Minnesota Ultimate Frisbee team. She aspires to pursue a future in international politics and humanitarian service.
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 families to graduate from a four-year college. George Matelich is a managing director of Kelso & Company, chair of the American Prairie Reserve, a past member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council, and a trustee emeritus at University of Puget Sound. Susan Matelich serves as a member of the American Prairie Reserve Board of Directors and the New York Botanical Garden Board of Trustees. She is also treasurer and emergency medical technician for the Town of Mamaroneck/Larchmont Volunteer Ambulance Corps, among other volunteer activities. Two Matelich Scholars are selected each year from the incoming first-year class.
For information about eligibility for the Matelich Scholar program, contact the Office of Admission at 253.879.3211 or visit pugetsound.edu/scholarships.
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