Abbi Fleming was a cheerful, bright, nurturing young woman who believed in working hard and making a difference in the world. Her unique spirit will be sustained with a new scholarship in her name in the Department of Food Science.
A sophomore pre-med student, Abbi wanted to become a physician’s assistant. She worked in several laboratories on campus while a student at N.C. State.
Shirley and Jack Fleming lost their 20-year-old daughter to a car accident in March of 1999. There are two other children in the closely knit family from McLeansville — a son, who is a student at N.C. State, and a daughter, still in high school.
The Flemings come from a family of dairy farmers. They are held in such high regard that the Carolina-Virginia Dairy Products Association established the Cristie Abigail "Abbi" Fleming Dairy Science Scholarship Endowment in memory of Abbi.
At a scholarship agreement-signing ceremony in January, her instructors, friends and family members told about Abbi’s loving, happy personality.
"Abbi was working in a different lab before she came to mine, and I noticed what a hard worker she was," said Food Science Research Specialist Joanna Tharington. "She was such a joy to have around, and she had an incredible ability to make whatever we were working on, even at six o’clock in the morning, enjoyable to everyone. She had the most beautiful smile, and she liked to crack jokes and tell us stories."
Abbi also worked for Dr. Patricia Curtis, Food Science professor and Extension specialist in poultry and egg processing. Curtis said that everyone liked Abbi. "She was an excellent worker and student. She was always willing to help in any way she could. We all miss Abbi."
Sharon Sullivan, a dorm-mate of Abbi’s who knew her in high school and college, said that Abbi was a true friend. "She was really outgoing and caring," Sullivan said. "She could take any bad situation and make it better, and she was so funny that she could make you laugh at the same time."
The merit-based scholarship will be managed by the North Carolina Dairy Foundation Inc. Dr. Kenneth R. Swartzel, head of the Department of Food Science, says that the scholarship is especially beneficial because it is renewable, unlike many scholarships in food science. As long as recipients are undergraduates and they keep their grades up, they can keep the scholarship.
The generosity that Abbi’s spirit prompted will benefit recipients of the scholarship that bears her name for years to come.
The first Cristie Abigail "Abbi" Fleming Dairy Science Scholarship will be given this year. The scholarship is fully endowed by the Carolina-Virginia Dairy Products Association, but the endowment will accept additional contributions at any time.