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Merrill Presidential Scholars Program


The 2013-2014 Merrill Presidential Scholars

View Images from the 2013 Luncheon

A profile for each scholar and the scholar's mentors is linked from each name.

Rhiannon Aguilar
College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

Tacy Lambiase
College of Arts and Humanities

Hiji Nam
College of Arts and Humanities

Jennifer Spangler
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Linda Billotti
School of Public Health

Austin Lee
Robert H. Smith School of Business

Kirsten Petersen
Philip Merrill College of Journalism

Luke Valenta
College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

Joseph Damiano
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Ryan Lee-Young
Robert H. Smith School of Business

Meredith Powers
College of Education

Graham Welch
College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

Stephanie Graf
Robert H. Smith School of Business

Christina Lim
School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Kathleen Rohrbach
A. James Clark School of Engineering

Alexandra Winter
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Carrie Hildebrandt
College of Arts and Humanities

Katelyn Lippitt
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Joshua Schimmel
School of Public Health

Nelson Yanes
A. James Clark School of Engineering

Brooke Hyman
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Noah Mandell
College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

Rebecca Silverman
Undergraduate Studies

Rebecca Yep
A. James Clark School of Engineering

Omer Kaufman
College of Arts and Humanities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Past Merrill Presidential Scholars

The 2012-2013 Merrill Scholars (Pictures and Statements)
View Images from the 2012 Luncheon

The 2011-2012 Merrill Scholars (Pictures and Statements)
View Images from the 2011 Luncheon

The 2010-2011 Merrill Scholars (Pictures and Statements)
View Images from the 2010 Luncheon


The 2009-2010 Merrill Scholars (Pictures and Statements)
View Images from the 2009 Luncheon


The 2008-2009 Merrill Scholars
Pictures and Statements and Luncheon Slideshow

For a print version of the Scholars' statement and pictures.

View an image slideshow from the 2008 Merrill Presidential Scholars Luncheon
The Merrill Presidential Scholars were joined by high school teachers and university faculty at a luncheon honoring the students and their teachers.


The 2007-2008 Merrill Scholars
Pictures and statements.  

For a print version of the 2007-2008 Merrill Presidential Scholars

Pictures from the 2007 Merrill Presidential Scholars Luncheon
The Merrill Presidential Scholars were joined by high school teachers and university faculty at a luncheon honoring the students and their teachers.


The 2006-2007 Merrill Scholars
Pictures and statements.  
Pictures from the 2006 Merrill Presidential Scholars Luncheon
The Merrill Presidential Scholars were joined by high school teachers and university faculty at a luncheon honoring the students and their teachers.


The 2005-2006 Merrill Scholars
Pictures and statements.
Pictures from the 2005 Merrill Presidential Scholars Luncheon

The Merrill Presidential Scholars were joined by high school teachers and university faculty at a luncheon honoring the students and their teachers. Here are two slideshows of images from the event for you to view.


The 2004-2005 Merrill Scholars
Pictures and statements.



The 2012-2013 Merrill Presidential Scholars

Brooke Hyman
Brooke Hyman

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Leon Slaughter
Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture

Teacher Mentor
Nancy Murray
Youth's Benefit Elementary School
Fallston, Md.

Early in elementary school, I would hide under the covers in the morning to raise my temperature so I wouldn't have to go to school. If that didn't work, I would be in the nurse's office by lunchtime, attempting to be sent home early with a headache. But I never wanted to miss a single minute of Mrs. Murray's third grade class. Mrs. Murray was a fun-loving teacher who made every day exciting. She challenged us to memorize all fifty states and capitals. I was the first in the class to do so, and she rewarded me with a trip to Pizza Hut. She sparks creativity from her students and encourages them to embark on new ideas. I have never forgotten the beautiful way in which she shares her passion for learning. Mrs. Murray holds a special place in my heart and I am excited to share this honor with her. At Maryland, Dr. Leon Slaughter is an incredible member of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. When I was a senior in high school, he personally gave me a tour of campus and was an integral part of my decision to attend the University. Since my freshman year, he has been a supportive and enthusiastic mentor. I can stop by his office any time for a chat, and he is happy to listen to me gab about my current life. Dr. Slaughter is patient and understanding, and I am happy to have built a relationship with him during my time at the University of Maryland.

 


Christina LimChristina Lim
School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Michael Ambrose
School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Teacher Mentor
Joseph Fischer
River Hill High School
Clarksville, Md.

I have faced many challenges as a student that have taught me valuable lessons and molded me into the student that I am today. Without the help of my teachers, learning these lessons and growing through them would have been impossible. I participated in my high school’s music program, playing in concert, symphonic, and marching bands. Mr. Fischer, the director of the music program, inspired his students to have a passion for the arts and gave them the opportunity to make valuable memories through music. He not only taught music, but also shared his life experiences with his students. Through his challenging but encouraging teaching style, I learned to find value in making music and art. I took Mr. Fischer’s lessons and have applied them to my studies at Maryland’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where Professor Ambrose has taught me many valuable lessons. Through his course, he teaches his students the thought processes and skills that they will need to succeed in architecture. By allowing his students to learn these lessons through their own means and methods, Professor Ambrose not only teaches us the requirements of the curriculum, but also the ability to self-assess and self-criticize, resulting in the best work possible. I thank these two teachers for imparting resounding lessons that I will continue to carry into my educational and professional careers.





Carrie HildebrandtCarrie Hildebrandt

College of Arts and Humanities

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Edy Kaufman
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Teacher Mentor
Felicia Wilks
Friends School of Baltimore
Baltimore, Md.

Looking back on my high school years, Ms. Wilks truly stands out. She encouraged my love of reading, and it was through her short story writing class that I discovered a passion for writing. She was always creative and never fell back on more traditional lesson plans. Ms. Wilks stopped at nothing to ensure that we thought about and understood the books we were reading. One of my most vivid memories is of Ms. Wilks who, upon sensing the depth of our confusion about a scene in Their Eyes Were Watching God, drew the scene out for us on the board. Throughout my time in high school she was a friend and mentor. Her door was always open. Even now, I visit Ms. Wilks when I’m home to talk about everything from our favorite new books to our favorite new recipes. I first met Professor Kaufman while taking a University of Maryland summer course on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and found that he has been an absolute inspiration to me. His teaching was fascinating and even-handed in a complex and contentious subject. I was inspired by the course to study abroad in Haifa, Israel, where Professor Kaufman serves as the program mentor. He continues to be inspirational in his conflict resolution work and warm and welcoming to his students. Professor Kaufman has always been there to help me and I feel so honored to have him as my mentor. Both Ms. Wilks and Professor Kaufman are exceptional educators, but what makes them truly special is that they continue to encourage and serve as an inspiration for their students outside the classroom.


Omer Kaufman Omer Kaufman
College of Arts and Humanities

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Howard Smead
Department of History

Teacher Mentor
Jennifer Walker
Sherwood High School
Sandy Spring, Md.

I have been fortunate to have been mentored by remarkable teachers who have helped me grow and thrive. Mrs. Jennifer Walker inspired me to study political science and history in college with her uncanny gift for making a crowded classroom feel intimate. Mrs. Walker nurtured my love of social studies and opened my eyes to new and exciting ways of thinking, encouraging me to develop my academic pursuits and instilling in me a passion for learning. A teacher, mentor and role model, Mrs. Walker has always been there for me and I am incredibly thankful for her guidance. At the University of Maryland, Professor Howard Smead served a similarly important role in my academic and personal development. I did not know what to expect when I first came to Maryland. Professor Smead’s American history courses helped get my feet on the ground. The courses were not easy, but Professor Smead pushed me to work hard, hit the books and write clearly, helping me to hone my skills in the process. I am truly thankful for his willingness to sit with me after lectures and discuss the material.





Hiji Nam

College of Arts and Humanities

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Steven Mansbach
Department of Art History and Archaeology

Teacher Mentor
Laurel Waterhouse
Choate Rosemary Hall
Wallingford, Conn.

Ms. Laurel Waterhouse was my history teacher, but her impact was especially poignant outside the classroom as my dorm advisor. She was always there when I was stressed about school and life. She reminded me of the big picture, which is just as important as lessons in the classroom. My mentor at the university has been Dr. Steven Mansbach. During my freshman fall his introduction to art history course inspired me to add the major. He currently serves as my thesis advisor. Dr. Mansbach is one of the most brilliant and inspirational professors I have ever had and he truly cares about his students. I would not be able to pursue my dreams of graduate school without the wonderful and caring teachers I have had in my scholastic career. 


Tacy LambiaseTacy Lambiase

College of Arts and Humanities

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Ingrid Satelmajer
Department of English

Teacher Mentor
Lynda Hardison
Shackelford Junior High School
Arlington, Texas

I have many mentors to thank for my success at the University of Maryland, but two teachers in particular have served as wonderful academic mentors and influenced my time at school positively. At Shackelford Junior High, I was fortunate to be placed in Lynda Hardison’s Texas history and introductory Spanish classes. I enjoyed Mrs. Hardison’s approach to teaching history, and her Spanish class provided me with a solid foundation in preparation for my high school foreign language classes. Because she was so dedicated to her students, Mrs. Hardison agreed to tutor a small group of students in Spanish during our freshman year of high school, going above and beyond to help us succeed. At the University of Maryland, I enrolled in Ingrid Satelmajer’s honors seminar, “Jane Austen: Her World, Our Obsession.” Professor Satelmajer enthusiastically guided my class through five of Austen’s works, and gave constructive and detailed criticism of my written assignments, pushing me to improve my writing skills. She also encouraged everyone in class to undertake creative projects for their final presentations. A classmate and I created our own version of Monopoly based on Austen’s novels. Our board game turned into a final project and a research paper that won a 2013 Honors College Best Student Paper Award. I loved taking classes with Mrs. Hardison and Professor Satelmajer, and I am so appreciative of their enthusiasm, dedication and encouragement.





Joseph DamianoJoseph Damiano

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Jay Smith, Associate Director
Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute

Teacher Mentor
Benjamin Currano
Our Lady of Good Counsel High School
Olney, Md.

Mr. Currano always had my back. Like me, he is of Italian descent and has University of Maryland pride bleeding through his veins. We immediately connected the moment I saw a Maryland basketball poster on his wall. I remember coming into his office during lunch and not having enough time to talk about everything. I looked up to Mr. Currano and wanted to follow in his footsteps. Mr. Currano was more than my Spanish teacher: he pushed me to be my best, listened to and encouraged my dreams and most importantly, he believed in me. I recall emailing him my very first semester at college to let him know how things were going. He always helped me stay on track and was a calming influence during those otherwise nerve-wrecking times. Mr. Currano never doubted I would be successful. At the University of Maryland, Jay Smith’s breadth of knowledge is simply amazing. Thanks to his Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program (EIP), I am now a member of the Hinman CEOs Program and am starting my own nonprofit organization with former EIP students. My fondest memories from freshmen and sophomore year come from events sponsored by EIP, and Mr. Smith was always right there. Mr. Smith’s class was refreshing during otherwise stressful times. He is a really funny guy. All I do daily, from the friends I hang out with to the classes I take, can be traced back to Jay Smith, and I will never be able to express my full gratitude.


Katelyn LippittKatelyn Lippitt
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Nan Ratner*
Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences

Teacher Mentor
Lee Ann Beall-Read
Wilde Lake High School
Columbia, Md.

Mrs. Beall-Read had a reputation for being a tough teacher. While she challenged her students every day to be better, she worked just as hard right alongside them. I won’t forget how she advised students after school, aided with research papers, answered questions and took pride in giving prompt feedback on assignments. Her passion and dedication to the success of her students inspired me to take on challenges and be the best learner I could be in her English class, in my college major, and in life. Her guidance in high school helped me through college applications, interviews, and on to graduation. One of the most influential mentors during my time at Maryland has been Dr. Nan Ratner. She accepted me into her research lab during my freshman year and since then I have worked with her on a number of research projects. She helped me find relevant summer jobs in hearing and speech and has been available to answer questions about courses, research or future plans. Her guidance provided me with countless research opportunities, experiences and skills. These convinced me to pursue a career as a hearing and speech researcher. Together these women inspired me to think and to be the best I possibly can be.

*Professor Ratner was named a Faculty Mentor by a 2005-06 Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar.





Jennifer SpanglerJennifer Spangler
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Michael Spivey*
Department of Government and Politics

Teacher Mentor
Kimberly Hutzel
Williamsport High School
Williamsport, Md.

My academic career has been greatly influenced by mentors who have provided me with the guidance that I have needed to succeed. My A.P. United States history teacher at Williamsport High School, Mrs. Hutzel, served as a mentor to me both in and out of the classroom. The knowledge and skills that I gained through her class have allowed me to succeed in my college career, particularly in my study of American government and law. Mrs. Hutzel was a mentor to me even when I was not in her class, always offering a kind word as I passed her in the hallway or giving advice when I stopped in to see her. She truly cares about her students and clearly has a love for teaching. I have also found a mentor in Professor Spivey at the University of Maryland. His introduction to constitutional law class greatly increased my knowledge and challenged many of my personal beliefs. Professor Spivey actively works to engage students and truly wants to see them succeed. He is more than willing to meet with students outside of class to provide guidance in the course or advice about future career goals. Taking Professor Spivey’s class played a large role in my increased interest in the law and in possibly becoming an attorney one day. Both Mrs. Hutzel and Professor Spivey are strong examples of teachers who genuinely care about the success of their students and that truly influence the lives and outlooks of those they teach.

*Professor Spivey was named a Faculty Mentor by a 2012-13 Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar.


Alexandra WinterAlexandra Winter
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Stacy Kosko
Department of Government and Politics

Teacher Mentor
Pedro Fernandez Fanjul
Montgomery Blair High School
Silver Spring, Md.

I owe every fulfilling experience I have had pursuing politics to two amazing people—my high school Spanish literature teacher and my international development and conflict management professor. As a freshman I was unsure which major to pursue and decided to declare a major others told me would lead to a career and steady income. By spring I realized it was not my perfect fit. On a visit to my high school, I ran into Mr. Fernandez and told him about my college friends, my Gemstone research, and my new major. I will never forget how he scolded me. “That’s not you!” he said. “You always loved languages and debate. Look at your Gemstone work—when left to your own devices, you chose to research foreign policy. You’re a person who could be running an international organization!” Initially I shrugged it off, but his speech came to haunt the rest of my summer. I returned to college early that fall and declared my major in government and politics. This led to a minor in international development and conflict management (IDCM) and to Dr. Stacy Kosko. Dr. Kosko teaches my IDCM courses, but also serves as a truly motivating role model. I see so much of myself in her sense of humor and frank way of handling class material. She proves to me that it is possible to have a great career by following your passions, and she keeps me inspired. I would have never discovered the right major without gaining the confidence Mr. Fernández instilled in me. I know I made the perfect choice thanks to Dr. Kosko.





Stephanie GrafStephanie Graf

Robert H. Smith School of Business

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Karen Swenson Hallows
Department of Finance

Teacher Mentor
Karen Yelito
Perry Hall Middle School
Baltimore, Md.

I entered sixth grade as my World Cultures teacher started her career. Aside from pushing her students academically, Ms. Yelito inspired us to succeed outside of the classroom. She served as the faculty champion for the National Junior Honor Society and the Character Education Club while I served as president and vice president, respectively. She continued to provide personal guidance to me throughout middle and high school. Ms. Yelito showed me how to fuel a career with passion and commitment from the very first days, and taught me to believe in myself. I created a similar mentor relationship with one of my Smith School professors. Professor Hallows taught my introduction to finance course and solidified, in my mind, the importance of finance in my educational experience. Professor Hallows offered advice and support as I chose finance as my major, prepared for interviews, and sifted through internship offers. She challenges me to engage in academic discussions about real-world issues and truly has helped prepare me for the business world. I appreciate the guidance I have received from both of my mentors. They have shaped me into the confident, intellectual woman I am today. I look forward to further mentoring in the years to come. 


Austin LeeAustin Lee

Robert H. Smith School of Business

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Suheil Bushrui
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Teacher Mentor
Alexandra Brasoveanu-Tarpy
Thomas S. Wootton High School
Rockville, Md.

Education goes beyond developing minds. It encompasses the process of developing character, and too often teachers forget this essential tenet. My mentors, Mrs. Alexandra Brasoveanu-Tarpy and Professor Suheil Bushrui, have taught me lessons that have formed my personal values and defined who I am today. In high school before returning our tests, Mrs. Brasoveanu-Tarpy spoke about a value higher than the grades we were about to receive—the integrity of effort that went into our studying and what we chose to do with our grades. I began to ask myself, “If grades should not be my highest goal, what should be?” At the University of Maryland, I found my closest mentor and a dear father figure, Professor Suheil Bushrui. He is a teacher in the truest sense of the word, treating his students as his own children and dedicating his life to teaching and promoting inter-religion and intercultural understanding. Through my work with Professor Bushrui, I have come to see the benefit of using my business education for positive social and environmental change. It took plenty of fumbling around to find my place, but it was the constant guidance of my dear mentors that allowed me to discover both who I am and what I want to accomplish in life.





Ryan Lee-YoungRyan Lee-Young

Robert H. Smith School of Business

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Progyan Basu
Department of Accounting and Information Assurance

Teacher Mentor
Janice Kunkel
McDonogh School
Owings Mills, Md.

Having to drive my brother to 6:00 A.M. swim practice, I know that there are very few people who wake before I do. Mrs. Jan Kunkel happens to be one of those people. Mrs. Kunkel was my algebra II and pre-calculus teacher during my sophomore and junior years. Mrs. Kunkel's door was always open and she greeted me with a smile and a pre-sunrise "good morning!" If there was one place where I could hone my study skills and work ethic, while enjoying sporadic banter between math problems, it was in Mrs. Kunkel's classroom. Whether inside or outside of class, Mrs. Kunkel was one of the most supportive, genuine, and motivational teachers I had the pleasure of meeting while at McDonogh. When I arrived at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, one of my first classes was Dr. Progyan Basu's principles of financial accounting course. At the time, I had not declared an accounting major, nor did I have the slightest intent of doing so. I have only recently declared accounting as my major, and Professor Basu was instrumental in helping me decide to do so. Professor Basu's most admirable trait is that he seeks to engage his students, even though he may teach more than 400 students per semester. He has been available for me to stop by his office for advice or a recommendation, and has looked for ways to help students achieve their aspirations. The guidance of Mrs. Kunkel and Dr. Basu undoubtedly has aided me throughout my years at Maryland.


Rhiannon AguilarRhiannon Aguilar

College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Daniel Falvey*
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Teacher Mentor
Anna Maria Cherubin
Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Greenbelt, Md.

I believe that an essential element of mentorship is leading by example. The instructors that have most inspired me are those who show an exceptional personal commitment to being the best they can be. Despite being responsible for five levels of French at a school with exceptionally large classes, Ms. Anna Maria Cherubin was able to bring new and engaging content to every class. She also sponsored extracurricular activities, including the French Honor Society. Ms. Cherubin made her best effort to attend every school concert or sports game when her students participated. I was in one of her French classes every year and I watched as she tirelessly worked to become a National Board Certified teacher, an honor she achieved during my senior year. Dr. Daniel Falvey’s similar commitment to his students has inspired me during my time at Maryland. Through his lively lectures and emphasis on real world applications he made Organic Chemistry II my favorite class. In no other lecture course have I seen a professor make the effort to address so many students by name, a demonstration of his desire for each individual student to succeed. Dr. Falvey was always accessible during office hours and answered questions during lecture. Outside of class he recognizes me in the hallways and gives me advice about research and graduate programs. Both Ms. Cherubin and Dr. Falvey set great examples for their students. They have motivated me to continue studying in their respective fields. I will always be grateful for their mentoring.

*Professor Falvey was named a Faculty Mentor by a 2008-09 Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar.





Noah MandellNoah Mandell
College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

Maryland Faculty Mentor
William Dorland
Department of Physics

Teacher Mentor
Pieter Kreunen
Warren Township High School
Gurnee, Ill.

My high school physics teacher, Mr. Pieter Kreunen, was influential in motivating my interest in physics. He knew how to engage and challenge his students in a manner that both facilitated understanding and promoted interest. During the course of two years of physics classes with him, I was always eager to learn each and every day. In Mr. Kreunen’s classroom I fell in love with physics and I credit him for encouraging me to pursue it. At Maryland, Dr. William Dorland has been an incredible mentor to me. I was so excited to have the opportunity to contribute to research with Dr. Dorland. Few undergraduates have the opportunity to do research work of such magnitude, and I am lucky to have a mentor like Dr. Dorland. He has given me great opportunities, always pushing me to reach my highest potential. He is an incredible teacher and physicist, and his guidance has played a major role in my successes and future aspirations.


Luke ValentaLuke Valenta

College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Fawzi Emad, Jr.
Department of Computer Science

Teacher Mentor
Van Valenta

As a homeschooled student, the person most responsible for my academic success and work ethic would be my father, Van Valenta. From a young age, my father helped me develop and culture my passion for mathematics by spending time teaching me "math on the board," as we called it. An anesthesiologist by profession, he spends the majority of his time reading and learning new things even after retirement. I have always been inspired by the amount of knowledge he has on almost any topic. I am very lucky to have such a man in my life. One person at the University of Maryland who really stands out as a mentor to me is Mr. Emad. When I first transferred to Maryland, I took Mr. Emad's computer science course. He made the class interesting and fun with his stories and examples, and kept his students engaged in the material. His teaching made me eager to learn more and I was excited about majoring in computer science. Mr. Emad's advising has been very valuable to me. As someone who has taught for both the Computer Science and Mathematics departments, he was able to give me excellent guidance as I planned the courses for my dual major in these subjects. I am very fortunate to have had the help and guidance of my mentors and would not be where I am today without them.





Graham WelchGraham Welch

College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Michelle Hugue
Department of Computer Science

Teacher Mentor
Dae Yi
Mount Hebron High School
Ellicott City, Md.

When I walked into my first high school computer science class with Mr. Dae Yi, it was clear that he was going to teach much more than programming. He made sure to relate each concept to how it was used in the real world so we could understand not just how to do something, but why. He created challenging and intellectually stimulating projects to keep everyone engrossed, regardless of their initial interest in computer science. In fact, we regularly got so involved in our projects that we would skip lunch to keep working and try out new things. At the University of Maryland, Dr. Michelle Hugue also embodies exceptional mentorship. Above all, she puts the success of her students first. She explains the importance of what we are learning, why we should know it, and how it relates to the sorts of problems we will face in the future. Each exam she hands back is marked with specifically tailored notes giving pointers on how to improve in areas where we struggled. She is always available to help students, whether writing letters of recommendation, answering questions about the most recent lecture, or helping with job or graduate school issues. Both Mr. Yi and Dr. Hugue have lent a helping hand. They have given advice when I came upon obstacles; but more important, they gave me the chance and freedom to try things and to learn from my mistakes. Their encouragement and genuine excitement for my potential was instrumental in my success.


Meredith PowersMeredith Powers

College of Education

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Debra Neubert
Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education

Teacher Mentor
Catherine Logan
Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School
Bethesda, Md.

Ms. Catherine Logan taught me the importance of critical thinking and active participation during my time in her high school English classes. Ms. Logan fostered my love of writing and prepared me for the rigor of college coursework. Her classes were notoriously challenging. I learned that in order to be a successful student I would need to plan ahead, seek out help, and constantly critique my own work. There were many days when Ms. Logan worked well past her hours to provide me with the support and encouragement necessary to become a confident writer. I will be inspired forever by Ms. Logan’s passion for teaching and dedication to her students. At the University of Maryland, Dr. Debra Neubert has helped me see endless possibilities for a future beyond my undergraduate studies. During her Universal Design for Learning course, Dr. Neubert provided her students with unlimited cutting-edge resources and opportunities to explore career options within their chosen fields of study. As a professor, Dr. Neubert was enthusiastic when I expressed interest in becoming a leader in the field of special education. Dr. Neubert’s commitment to the success of her students has inspired me to set ambitious career goals and to work diligently to provide all students with the opportunity to learn.





Kathleen RohrbachKathleen Rohrbach
A. James Clark School of Engineering

Maryland Faculty Mentor
C. Robert Warner
Department of Mathematics

Teacher Mentor
Patricia Davis
Howard High School
Ellicott City, Md.

I have had many influential teachers. Mrs. Patricia Davis, my high school Latin teacher, has made the greatest impact. I had the privilege of learning from her during all four years in high school. I loved the language as soon as I chose my Latin name, Arachne, but it was not the subject that made the class memorable. Mrs. Davis showed an interest in me and my abilities in Latin. She was easy to talk to and I had many long conversations with her after class about everything from Latin to daily life. When I was first diagnosed with Lyme disease, an illness which I still struggle with, Mrs. Davis was a huge source of support. She became my advocate within a school that did not understand the disease. I still keep in touch with her, sharing my college experiences and successes. In my first year of college, I had the privilege of having Dr. Warner as my calculus II professor. In the first lecture he inspired me to learn as diligently as I could. He said all impressive and noteworthy theories came from applications of the basics, so any one of us could create the next revolutionary theory because of what we were learning now. His introduction gave me the courage to approach him during office hours. Our conversations extended beyond math. Dr. Warner was interested in my thoughts and future goals, sharing some books and ideas on common interests like the Mongols. His class was difficult, but it showed me that I was capable of learning things that a week earlier I could not even fathom. He showed me that professors were not daunting, but in fact mentors.


Nelson YanesNelson Yanes
A. James Clark School of Engineering

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Christopher Cadou*
Department of Aerospace Engineering

Teacher Mentor
Joe Magdelinskas
Northwestern High School
Hyattsville, Md.

Joe Magdelinskas is a man that his students will never forget. Also known as “Mr. Mag,” he is a witty teacher who challenges all of the students who enter his honors chemistry class. When I first entered his class, I never would have imagined I would learn so much in a school year. Although it was a chemistry class, he coached us on how to add fractions, solve equations, and even take the square root of a number by hand. I learned more mathematics in that chemistry class than at any other time in my life. My career in engineering would have been impossible without Mr. Mag. The education I received from him allowed me to study under my other mentor, Dr. Christopher Cadou. Dr. Cadou is a fantastic educator. He is friendly to every student and always willing to sacrifice his time to educate. Some students call him the walking encyclopedia because you can always turn to him for help. Dr. Cadou helped me understand the tools, machinery, plumbing, designing, and circuitry needed to do research in the propulsion laboratory. He is one of the best professors I have encountered during my time at the University of Maryland. 

*Professor Cadou was named a Faculty Mentor by a 2010-11 Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar.





Rebecca YepRebecca Yep

A. James Clark School of Engineering

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Chandra Thamire
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Teacher Mentor
Vicki Clem
Mount Hebron High School
Ellicott City, Md.

Ms. Vicki Clem was my most influential high school teacher. I considered her to be my third grandmother. She taught me during all four years of high school and was instrumental to my growth. She had a passion for French and believed that it wasn’t just a language, but a wonderful culture that we were meant to experience beyond our textbooks. She not only instructed us on grammar and speaking, but also shared with us classic French literature, film, music, art and food. We baked, sang and painted in class as a way to connect with the subject matter. She was involved outside the classroom, leading the school’s National Honor Society, forming a French Club, and cheering on the sidelines of almost every athletic game. Ms. Clem invested in us as people, not just as students, getting to know all of us on a personal basis. A small group of us traveled to France with her after graduation. We were able to appreciate all aspects of the culture because of her teaching. She has truly been an inspiration to me. At Maryland, I have known Professor Thamire as a student studying dynamics, as a teaching fellow for his dynamics class, and as an upperclassman taking the DeWalt design class under his direction. A great instructor, Professor Thamire takes the time to break down the subject matter so that his students understand it. He takes the student’s needs into account and is always prepared. He engages the class by asking a lot of questions and challenges us to think for ourselves. He goes the extra mile to make sure that the students’ needs come first. I am grateful to have known him during my time at Maryland.


Kirsten PetersenKirsten Petersen

Philip Merrill College of Journalism

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Michael Olmert*
Department of English

Teacher Mentor
Kevin Keegan**
James Hubert Blake High School
Silver Spring, Md.

My most powerful classroom experiences have been with teachers and professors who are great educators and academics whose passion for their studies is contagious. When Mr. Keegan stood before my freshman English class and declared that his introductory journalism course would essentially chart the course for our high school success, I enrolled right away. Mr. Keegan didn’t just encourage excellence—he demanded it. With his high standards and support, I discovered my own strength as a storyteller and found journalism to be the ideal intersection between my passions for writing and serving my community. As I started to look at colleges, I received guidance from English professor Dr. Olmert. He invited me to visit his classes and to have lunch with his students while I was still a high school junior. During my freshman year at Maryland, I enrolled in his 300-level course, “Baroque and Augustan Survey of British Literature.” This class wasn’t just about reading. We attended a performance of Cymbeline, analyzed the architecture of colonial buildings, and pored over a tome of Hogarth’s engravings. It was the most challenging and fulfilling course I took outside my major. I also joined Dr. Olmert in London for his annual summer study abroad trip. He is truly a walking encyclopedia of everything there is to know about British history and culture. He inspires me to commit the same attention and dedication to my own passions. With the continued support of Mr. Keegan and Dr. Olmert, I know I can accomplish any goal if I pursue it with passion and always strive for excellence.

*Professor Olmert was named a Faculty Mentor by two 2007-08 Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars and again in 2010-11.

** Mr. Keegan was named a Teacher Mentor by a 2008-09 Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar.





Linda BillottiLinda Billotti
School of Public Health

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Marian Moser Jones
Department of Family Science

Teacher Mentor
Gretchen Martin
Middletown High School
Middletown, Md.

Mrs. Gretchen Martin was my child development teacher for three years in high school and provided me with great first-hand experience in the field. In her course I was able to examine how I wanted to work with children and understand better how to teach them through various developmental stages. Mrs. Martin’s courses validated my desire to work with young children and allowed me to develop teaching and planning skills in a way that none of my other classes have. While at college I am still focused on working with children, but have shifted from teaching to social work. With the help of professors like Dr. Marian Moser Jones I have been able to explore the careers available to me. I have taken two courses with Dr. Jones and she has helped me to look at many concepts from different perspectives. In her courses, I have been able to learn many skills needed in my career and to network for future internships and jobs. Both of these teachers have influenced my education by allowing me to have first-hand experience in the field of work I want to pursue and by providing me with the skills I will need to be successful.


Joshua Schimmel

School of Public Health

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Eva Chin
Department of Kinesiology

Teacher Mentor
Laura Mattick
St. Mark's High School
Wilmington, Del.

When I entered St. Mark's High School as a freshman, I had very low expectations for myself. I performed poorly on the entrance exam and, consequently, was initially placed into classes that did not challenge me. I succeeded in these classes and moved to more intellectually and academically challenging courses, one of which was the honors physics class taught by Ms. Laura Mattick. Although I had little interest in physics before taking this course, Ms. Mattick made physics fun and intellectually challenging. Though I did not choose to pursue physics in my undergraduate career, this particular class and teacher provided me with the passion and desire to pursue a challenging and thought provoking field of study. For this reason I devoted my undergraduate career to a study of the sciences, specifically as a kinesiology major. While at the University of Maryland, I had the privilege of working with my mentor, Dr. Eva Chin. In the 2013 spring semester, Dr. Chin graciously allowed me to perform an independent research study with her supervision, despite her already overwhelming schedule. Dr. Chin has given me the opportunity to perform research in the muscle physiology lab for the School of Public Health. She has reaffirmed my desire to expand my knowledge and to research the unknown.





Rebecca Silverman Rebecca Silverman

Undergraduate Studies

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Donna Howard*
Department of Behavioral and Community Health

Teacher Mentor
Rebecca Schorsch
Chicagoland Jewish High School
Deerfield, Ill.

Dr. Rebecca Schorsch is one of the most intelligent, insightful, and passionate teachers I've ever had. From my first Talmud class with her freshman year of high school, she instilled in me a deep love for learning. Throughout the next four years, Dr. Schorsch gave meaning and purpose to Jewish education, which made studying Bible and Talmud a joy, rather than a chore. Her dedication to teaching and to her students is undeniable. Since I have had the pleasure of getting to know Dr. Schorsch, she has supported me in following my passions and ambitions and continues to be a mentor. At the University of Maryland, Dr. Donna Howard is an extremely dedicated, passionate and brilliant teacher who serves as the faculty mentor for my individual studies major, global women's health. Since taking Dr. Howard's introduction to public health class last spring, I have become increasingly passionate about and interested in the topic. She agreed to oversee my major despite her busy schedule and previous commitments. Her desire to empower others to be passionate about public health is clear. When I try to imagine who I want to be as I get older and what things I would like to accomplish, I think about Donna Howard as an example and role model. Donna Howard's excitement about public health, travel and learning motivate me to continue to work hard and pursue opportunities that excite me.

*Professor Howard was named a Faculty Mentor by 2006-07, 2011-12 and 2012-13 Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars.

 

For more information about the Merrill Presidential Scholars Program contact:
Lisa Kiely, Assistant Dean, Office of Undergraduate Studies
2110 Marie Mount Hall, College Park, MD 20742  •  Phone: 301.405.9363  •  Fax: 301.314.9896


Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars Program
Office of Undergraduate Studies