Anneke Fleming, of Eastsound, Washington was awarded the Matelich Scholarship in recognition 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.
While traveling from Michigan with her family to a new home on Orcas Island, 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.