Duquesne students celebrate the memory of classmate Ryan Fleming with a balloon release.

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Ryan Fleming Memorial Scholarship

The Ryan Fleming Memorial Scholarship pays tribute to a young man who departed this world too soon. Fleming, a sophomore business student, passed away in January 2014 at age 20. Duquesne students now receive support in Fleming's name through the generosity of the Xerox Corporation.

Fleming was the eldest son of Thomas P. Fleming Jr., superintendent of the Richland School District, and Cambria County Judge Linda Fleming. A high school letterman in football and basketball, he shared a love for athletics with his father, a former high school football coach.

In 2013, he was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a condition in which an extra electrical pathway in the heart leads to episodes of rapid heart rate, which eventually took his life.

During Fleming's first year at Duquesne, he became a student assistant to director of football operations John Rosato. Fleming's uncle was Duquesne head coach Jerry Schmitt, but few of the players or staff were aware of the connection. "Ryan refused to call him ‘Uncle Jerry,' his father explained. "He didn't want anybody to think he got any kind of special attention."

Thomas Merlie, senior client manager at Xerox, also knew young Fleming. "Ryan always seemed well beyond his years," Merlie recalled. "Everybody who met him liked him. He knew everyone. No one said a bad thing about him. He had an engaging, soothing, feel-good personality."

Merlie also admired Fleming's determination, resourcefulness and selflessness. "He wasn't a big-time college athlete, but he was part of college athletics in a profound way," Merlie said. "Ryan always found ways to be a part of something bigger. If he couldn't find one way to do to something, he'd find an alternate route-one that would benefit others."

Fleming's altruism is reflected in the business association between Duquesne and Xerox. "In our desire to foster a partnership, we want to go above and beyond the standard business relationship between vendor and institution," Merlie explained. "We want to participate, to be involved in a larger sense, and to contribute in a way that benefits the desires and needs of Duquesne students."

Sophomore Christine DeAndrea and freshman Katherine Narasimha, both enrolled in the Physician Assistant Studies program, are the inaugural recipients of this scholarship for this academic year.

"Ryan Fleming personified the type of student whom we hope will benefit from his namesake scholarship," Merlie said. "We at Xerox hope that the scholarship benefits as many students as possible-young men and women who need the help and who will work hard every day."