TACOMA, Wash. – Incoming first-year students Mercer Stauch of Niwot, Colo., and Alex Bude of Boise, Idaho, are University of Puget Sound’s two newest Matelich Scholars. The pair were awarded the prestigious scholarship in recognition of their outstanding potential to excel academically, succeed as inspirational leaders, and give back to their communities through sustained personal growth and a lifetime relationship with the university. The Matelich Scholarship award covers tuition, fees, and room and board at Puget Sound for up to four years.
The scholarship is made possible by a generous gift from George E. Matelich ’78 and Susan E. Matelich. Ideal applicants are students who have the character and commitment to make a difference, and who demonstrate the motivation to positively impact their communities in college and beyond. Stauch and Bude are members of Puget Sound’s Class of 2026, and are part of a cohort of 22 Matelich Scholars named since the program began awarding scholarships in 2012.
Mercer Stauch (Niwot, Colo.)
Mercer Stauch ’26 (he/him) comes to Puget Sound with an eclectic set of interests and outstanding leadership qualities. Mentors in his life highlight Stauch’s compassion, honesty, and integrity, as well as his passion for human rights and empowering all voices. In high school, Stauch served as founder and editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, president of the National Honor Society, council co-president for U.S. Representative Joe Neguse’s Youth Advisory Council, and member of the Youth Sustainability Board, where he helped raise more than $14,000 for student environmental projects. While holding these roles, he also participated in varsity track and cross country, studied piano, and worked on theater set design and tech.
Stauch looks forward to studying a wide range of programs at Puget Sound, including International Political Economy, anthropology, and Spanish, while also growing and applying his leadership philosophy to opportunities that bring positive change to the school and the world. He says, "Ultimately, I hope that both a Puget Sound education and the Matelich scholarship program will support me in my goal to create positive change in multiple areas I care about, including sustainability, voting rights, and LGBTQ rights and protections.”
Alex Bude (Boise, Idaho)
With a passion for serving and connecting communities, Alex Bude ’26 (he/him) seeks to be a change-maker at Puget Sound. His work while in high school included organizing grassroots political campaigns, producing content for state-funded campaigns against sexual and dating violence, serving as youth ambassador for Leadership at Boise Academy, and working for local politicians to support public outreach, research, and lobbying. In addition, Bude was an active member of his speech and debate team, placing 25th out of 972 in the World Scholars Debate at the 2021 NSDA nationals. In that same year, he earned the titles of Idaho State Champion in Panel Speaking and National Merit Finalist, and was a member of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society ID Team of the Year, helping to raise $35,000 for cancer patients and research. Beyond these accomplishments, Bude held the role of principal violist in various ensembles, including the Boise Phil Youth Orchestra.
During his time at Puget Sound, Bude hopes to study environmental policy and decision making, global development studies, and music. He was attracted to the university’s “interdisciplinary, intersectional, and community-focused approach” and shared that Puget Sound “is a community where I see myself working passionately with my peers to fight for the people and causes that I love.”
About the Matelich Scholars Program
The Matelich Scholars 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 senior advisory partner of Kelso & Company, chair of American Prairie, 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 Board of Directors for American Prairie and the New York Botanical Garden Board of Trustees. She is also board treasurer and an emergency medical technician-B and treasurer 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 Scholars Program, contact the Office of Admission at 253.879.3211 or visit pugetsound.edu.