Alanna Matteson

The OlympianMarch 13, 2011 

Age: 18.

School: Avanti High School in Olympia.

Parents or guardians: Ross and Genny Matteson.

Best personal achievement: Maintaining hope and a love of learning.

How I spend my time: Writing poetry, painting, playing the accordion, doing aerial silks acrobatic dance, volunteering for the Emma Goldman Youth and Homeless Outreach Project, doing HIV prevention peer education work through the Thurston County Teen Council, reading, working at Last Words Books and spending time with people I love.

Favorite subjects: Anything that will allow me to express creativity and smile with wonder because I am learning new things.

Favorite movie: Probably a tie between “Amelie” and “Chocolat.”

Favorite book: “The Land of the Blue Flower” by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Dream job: Chemical addiction counselor, painter, poet, urban farmer, diplomat and activist.

Someone I respect: Tracy, who has taught me everything I know about street outreach work and who is one of my best friends.

My future ambitions or career aspirations include: becoming a chemical addictions counselor/art therapist. I am more interested in what keeps someone from going back to their addictions after they have gone through rehab than in just helping them to become chemically independent in the short term. I think that success lies in helping people to see their own beauty and value, and I think that art can be a part of this healing process. I also think that digging in the dirt and watching plants grow can be very healing for people. I would like to travel and write and teach and eventually have goats and chickens and a garden and kids.

The hardest part of being a student is: Trying to dream, while in the process of studying interesting but seemingly disconnected subject matter.

Someone famous I would like to meet: I’m not sure. Most of my heroes are people I see every day.

Someday, looking back on my life, I’ll be able to say: I will probably have many things to say about my life and won’t be very inclined to put them all in one little nutshell.

Biggest challenge facing teenagers today: Being disconnected. Ironic, but true.

One thing in the world I would change if I could: Whether they had 10 acres or a tin can, everyone would plant a garden, and everyone would be in awe of their own existence and act like it.

Nominated by: School counselor Claire McGibbon. She wrote, “Alanna is a 21st century role model. She is a socially conscious, intelligent, responsible, diverse young woman who inspires hope for the promise of what is yet to come.”

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