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The 2018-2019 Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars

College of Arts and Humanities

Lauren Baker

Julian Savelski

Cosette Zacarias

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Shereen Ashai

Zachary Spickler

Katarina Yang

Robert H. Smith School of Business

Elizabeth Gillum

Kristin Woo

Aaron Yang

College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences

Danielle Arons

Deirdre Dolan

Somachukwu Umeozulu



College of Education

Landon Wilson

A. James Clark School of Engineering

Joshua Cocker

Rachel Romano

Justin Sylvers

Philip Merrill College of Journalism

Jordan Fox

School of Public Health

Talia Klein

Katherine Kim



 



Lauren Baker
Teacher Mentor: Aaron Robinson, Westminster High School, Westminster, MD
Faculty Mentor: Gregory Staley, Classics

I have been lucky enough to work with many amazing educators, and t wo people in particular stand out for their excellent mentorship in and out of the classroom: Mr. Aaron Robinson, my high school AP Government teacher, and Professor Gregory Staley, my Honors Humanities and Latin professor. Mr. Robinson’s government class was one of my favorite courses because his enthusiasm created an engaging learning environment which stimulated my intellectual growth and curiosity. In addition to his superb teaching, Mr. Robinson was a great mentor who encouraged me to strive for my best and was always ready to listen, provide help, and offer advice. Professor Staley has also been an important mentor, and he was always available to talk and advise me on exciting new opportunities. He demonstrated how vital the humanities are to education and life, and influenced my decision to became involved with Classics on campus and major in Latin . I will always be grateful to these two mentors for all they have done to instruct, support, and inspire me.



Julian Savelski
Teacher Mentor: Robert Barnshaw, Washington Township High School, Sewell, NJ
Faculty Mentor: Frances Lee, Government and Politics

Mr. Robert Barnshaw, my high school U.S. history teacher, and Professor Frances Lee, my Government and Politics professor , have been true mentors for me. Mr. Barnshaw instilled in me a sincere appreciation for American history. His devotion to the subject and heartfelt care for his students has never ceased to amaze me, and I hold his words in great regard today. Professor Lee’ s expertise on Congress has impressed me ever since I first saw her speak at a panel on campus. Her class, among the most enjoyable experiences of my college career, left me with a deeper understanding of the people who become politicians. We still meet regularly to talk about politics , and I continue to learn with each discussion. Both of my mentors have been role models for me. They have enriched my educational experience in the intangible ways in which only those who have had truly great teachers can understand. I am so thankful to them both.




Cosette Zacarias
Teacher Mentor: Kelly Lankford, Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, Natchitoches, LA
Faculty Mentor: Elsa Barkley Brown, Women’s Studies

Reflecting on my academic trajectory to this point, I find myself especially grateful for how Dr. Kelly Lankford and Professor Barkley Brown have shaped me through their knowledge and guidance. In high school, Dr. Lankford’s enthusiastic teaching helped me discover my love for history through fascinating subjects such as the histories of Latin American revolutions and American science. Through her passionate lecturing and mentoring in my classes and independent study , I learned to contemplate historical narratives and was encouraged to pursue my curiosity for topics unexplored in course offerings. In college, I discovered a passion for W omen’s S tudies with the help of Professor Barkley Brown. Her teaching inspires me to continue the joyous pursuit of learning and sharing women’s stories. Professor Barkley Brown’s devotion to students’ personal and professional growth is clear through her belief in my work and my potential. I am especially thankful for the many opportunities she has created for me to supplement my classroom knowledge with conference experiences and dialogue, so I can further explore the intersections of women’s studies and social justice activism.




Shereen Ashai
Teacher Mentor: Carol Appel, River Hill High School, Clarksville, MD
Faculty Mentor: Nazish Salahuddin, Psychology

Throughout my high school and college career, I have been fortunate to have mentors who have been instrumental to my academic success and personal development. In high school I found solace in the art department, where Ms. Carol Appel would always welcome me with a smile. She offered me a space to express myself artistically during my formative years . Her charisma and warmth united students of diverse backgrounds, a quality I have always admired. Similarly, Professor Nazish Salahuddin has been a source of inspiration for me since my sophomore year of college. Professor Salahuddin’s dedication to students can be seen when she hosts the biannual Community Unity events in the Department of Psychology. As an advisor, professor, mentor, and friend, Professor Salahuddin has always encouraged me to pursue my full potential. I am indebted to these mentors for their unwavering support and for helping me become who I am today.




Zachary Spickler
Teacher Mentor: Katherine Kol, Marriotts Ridge High School, Mariottsville, MD
Faculty Mentor: David Maimon, Criminology & Criminal Justice

Ms. Katherine Kol encouraged me throughout high school as I was building teamwork and leadership skills in the environmental club. She taught me to live and learn with an open mind, and this is something that defines my character to this day. Professor David Maimon has accompanied me on my success in the Criminology & Criminal Justice department throughout the Honors Program. He has helped me develop the knowledge and academic awareness I need to serve my community. Both of these mentors have contributed to my education in ways that I will never forget, have inspired me to strive for excellence, and helped me to live a life that is worth something to the world.




Katarina Yang
Teacher Mentor: Christine Gutwein, Thomas S. Wootton High School, Rockville, MD
Faculty Mentor: John Pease, Sociology

High school was a challenge for me until I took my first ceramics class with M s. Christina Gutwein during my sophomore year. She introduced me to pottery, and discovering this passion helped changed how I viewed myself and improved my sense of self-worth. M s. Gutwein became a valuable mentor who was always available to talk with me, and she helped me find my place in the world. I met Professor John Pease on my first day at University of Maryland. I was drawn to Professor Pease both because of the effort he put into engaging students with materials and his approachability. Professor Pease has helped me forge a fulfilling path for myself. M s. Gutwein and Professor Pease have taught me to believe in myself and my potential. Both educators are some of the most selfless and humble people I know. I am eternally thankful for their endless support, kindness, and generosity.




Elizabeth Gillum
Teacher Mentor: Philip Bressler, Dulaney High School, Lutherville-Timonium, MD
Faculty Mentor: Pamela Armstrong, Decisions, Operations, and Information Technologies

In high school, Mr. Philip Bressler taught me how to challenge myself in order to make continuous improvements in my academics. In his Economics class, he emphasized the importance of recognizing and learning from your mistakes; o utside of the classroom, he taught me the value of gratitude and leveraging positivity to create success. He supported me in my college selection process and had a significant influence on my decision to attend University of Maryland. Here at the u niversity , Professor Pamela Armstrong has had a major impact on my college experience. Professor Armstrong’ s success and determination inspired me to sharpen my focus on future career goals and to actively take steps to achieve those goals. She has provided me with several opportunities to further my involvement in the QUEST Program, which has allowed me to feel more connected to the campus community. As a mentor, Professor Armstrong taught me how to be a more effective leader and team member in the classroom as well as in professional settings. I am so grateful for the support and guidance Mr. Bressler and Professor Armstrong have given me.




Kristin Woo
Teacher Mentor: Ron Reis, Waverly Elementary School, Ellicott City, MD
Faculty Mentor: Jeff Miller, Logistics, Business, and Public Policy

I am extremely thankful for the mentors in my life who have inspired, uplifted, and supported me through my journey. My 4th grade teacher, Mr. Ron Reis, taught me to approach life with excitement and enthusiasm. His energy-filled lessons and youthful spirit served as a reminder to pursue what excites me with passion. Mr. Reis also taught me not to fear being different and helped me discover and embrace myself as a unique individual. I have been fortunate enough to have had Professor Jeff Miller for three classes during my time at University of Maryland, and I currently serve as his teaching assistant . I have enjoyed his humorous and thought-provoking lectures, and I’m a better person thanks to working with him. Professor Miller serves as an advocate for advancement of women in business, minority representation, and accessibility for disabled people, among many other things. Wherever he goes, he shines a light on topics that are important to discuss. Thank you to Mr. Reis and Professor Miller for inspiring me to become the best student and individual I can be.




Aaron Yang
Teacher Mentor: Niclas Svensson, Walker Beacon High School, Watertown, MA
Faculty Mentor: Behzad Gohari, University Honors Program

I am proud to recognize Mr . Niclas Svensson and Professor Behzad Gohari as two mentors who have greatly impacted my personal growth and development. As a high school junior, I was incredibly inspired by Mr. Svensson’s compassion and selflessness. Whether it was in the physics lab or on the basketball court, he was always dedicating his time to students. His presence in the community made him a role model that I could easily look up to and the lessons he taught both in and out of the classroom shaped the values that guide my life today. I met Professor Gohari while taking his honors seminar on global financial crises. His stories about immigrating to the United States and pursuing careers in several different fields inspired me to think more deeply about my own life goals. Professor Gohari is one of the wisest and most knowledgeable professors I have had the privilege of learning from. I am tremendously grateful to both Mr. Svensson and Professor Gohari for the guidance they have provided me as I continue along my academic journey.




Danielle Arons
Teacher Mentor: Inyong Choi, Walter Johnson High School, Bethesda, MD
Faculty Mentor: Reid Compton, Biology

Mr. Inyong Choi, my high school calculus teacher, stands out among the many wonderful teachers who motivated me to be who I am today. Mr. Choi’ s classes, while extremely challenging, taught me how to actively study to learn and not just to memorize. By fully understanding the material, I was able to enjoy the content and this pushed me to continue studying science in college. As a mentor, Mr. Choi was always there to help me understand difficult concepts. Professor Reid Compton has played a pivotal role in my college education. He helped me transition into college seamlessly, and his office door is always open if I have questions or problems to discuss . Professor Compton encourages students to excel academically while reminding us to enjoy life and stay grounded by balancing academics with other extracurricular activities. I feel extremely lucky to have Mr. Choi and Professor Compton as mentors who are deeply dedicated to their students.


Deirdre Dolan
Teacher Mentor: Julian Lazarus, Linganore High School, Frederick, MD
Faculty Mentor: Timothy Canty, Atmospheric and Oceanic Science

Mr. Julian Lazarus was my high school theater teacher , and I took his classes all four years at Linganore High School. While h e taught me how to perform, he also and taught me life lessons that applied beyond the classroom. His theater classes challenged the way I thought about the world and helped me find the role I wanted to play in it. My faculty mentor, Professor Timothy Canty, has been a guiding light in my college career. He taught my first Atmospheric and Oceanic Science course, and he has been my greatest supporter by helping me find internships and other opportunities. With his guidance, I have worked to become the first student to be accepted into the 5-year combined B.S. and M.S. program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science. I am extremely grateful to both of my extraordinary mentors who helped me grow into the person I am today.




Somachukwu Umeozulu
Teacher Mentor: Cynthia Schnaar, River Hill High School, Clarksville, MD
Faculty Mentor: Jeffery Davis, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Among the many wonderful teachers I have had throughout the course of my education, one that stands out is M s. Cynthia Schnaar, my high school U.S. history teacher. When I was struggling in my first year of high school after a recent move to Maryland, Ms. Schnaar was supportive of me and offered help when I needed it. In her class, she pushed us to think critically and allowed a lot of creativity with her assignments. Here at University of Maryland, I have received the same kind of support and mentorship from Professor Jeffery Davis. His Organic Chemistry class was both interesting and engaging, and he provided guidance to my Gemstone team on our research project. Professor Davis is always willing to make time for his students and I am very appreciative of all of his help. I am thankful for the guidance and support that M s. Schnaar and Professor Davis have given me because they have made me a better student and person.




Joshua Cocker
Teacher Mentor: Kevin Lee, Poolesville High School, Poolesville, MD
Faculty Mentor: Evandro Valente, Aerospace Engineering

In his Principals of Engineering course, Mr. Kevin Lee inspired my curiosity for technology and created an environment where I could exercise logic and creativity to solve engineering problems. Tinkering with robotics in Mr. Lee’s class was one of my first experiences with m echanical engineering, and it was his guidance and encouragement that helped me decide to pursue my passion for engineering and design. I have worked with Professor Evandro Valente as a student, teaching fellow, and intern at his drone startup, and I appreciate how his mentorship style combines academic, professional, and entrepreneurial insights. His passion in the class room and beyond has inspired me to develop innovative solutions to real world problems in my future career. Professor Valente has provided me with opportunities to participate in cutting edge research, exciting entrepreneurial experiences, and to improve myself as an educator and lifelong learner. Thank you Professor Valente and Mr . Lee.




Rachel Romano
Teacher Mentor: Brian Weisner, Great Mills High School, Great Mills, MD
Faculty Mentor: Johan Larsson, Mechanical Engineering

In high school, Mr. Brian Weisner, my calculus teacher, provided the foundation I needed to become a confident engineering student. In his AP Calculus classes, Mr. Weisner ensured his students thoroughly understood the material through patient explanations and inventive activities. As an aide for his class during my senior year, I was able to spend additional time learning from him and discussing my future goals. Here at University of Maryland, Professor Johan Larsson taught my statistics class and helped ease the transition into mechanical engineering courses my sophomore year. In class, he encouraged students to ask questions so we could better understand the topic. His advice and support has inspired me to consider graduate studies as I look to the future. I’m grateful to have such supportive teachers and professors who gave me the confidence to fully pursue my education.




Justin Sylvers
Teacher Mentor: Jacquelyn Goodenow-Lynch, Damascus High School, Damascus, MD
Faculty Mentor: Bonnie Dixon, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Ms. Jacquelyn Goodenow-Lynch, my high school literature teacher, was very influential in my approach to education. She was a supportive mentor, and the rapport between us encouraged me to engage with academics on equal terms, and dispelled any hesitation I might have had when interacting with my professors. Here at University of Maryland, I attribute much of my success to Professor Bonnie Dixon. For three semesters I was lucky to enroll in her chemistry courses. Her fast paced lectures, along  with her willingness to provide individual assistance as needed, helped me understand the material and learn how to speak up when I had questions. I’m grateful to both Ms. Goodenow-Lynch and Professor Dixon for their mentorship.




Jordan Fox
Teacher Mentor: Barbara Bingham, Clover Hill High School, Midlothian, VA
Faculty Mentor: Alexander Pyles, Digital Journalism

My mentors, Ms. Barbara Bingham and Professor Alexander Pyles, have encouraged me to try harder, reach further and achieve more than I ever thought I could. T hey have not only taught me well but have also inspired me. In high school, M s. Bingham was the first teacher who recognized my learning style and encouraged me to push the boundaries of my creativity by giving me projects to work on and creating a safe haven in her classroom if I needed to take a break from my hectic schedule. Professor Pyles’s passion for his job, his excitement for teaching,  and his kindness and understanding toward his students inspired me to go beyond the basics of our assignments. Both mentors have inspired me to be a better leader and a better person, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to show my appreciation for their hard work.




Talia Klein
Teacher Mentor: Nicole Friedman, Yavneh Academy of Dallas, Dallas, TX
Faculty Mentor: Dina Borzekowski, Behavioral and Community Health

M s. Nicole Friedman and Professor Dina Borzekowski have challenged me to excel in new and surprising ways. They are the most powerful kind of educators, as they continue to help guide me both academically and personally. I began my high school career in M s. Friedman’s Algebra 2 class and completed it in her Calculus class. The distinct growth I recognized from 9th to 12th grade was due to her encouraging me to sit back and think critically before asking questions or telling myself I was confused. I left her class each day feeling challenged and humbled, but most of all excited. I had the privilege of first connecting with Professor Borzekowski in her Biostatistics course. After class, we would frequently discuss advanced applications of the material together. Since then, she has exposed me to research and   analysis, and has guided me throughout  my career development. Professor Borzekowski has helped me discover and refine my strengths and areas for growth. Thank you to my mentors for their continued inspiration, commitment, and guidance.




Katherine Kim
Teacher Mentor: Lee Hirsch, Thomas S. Wootton High School, Rockville, MD
Faculty Mentor: Seppo Iso-Ahola, Kinesiology

Dr. Lee Hirsch, my high school physics teacher, taught me to not be afraid to make mistakes, and he encouraged me to share my insights with others. In his honors physics class, he helped me understand the value of learning for enjoyment rather than for grades. With his mentorship, I gained  confidence in myself to persevere through the hardships I encountered during my transition from high school to college. Here at the University of Maryland, I had the privilege of taking a class with Professor Seppo Iso-Ahola, whose knowledge surrounding research, psychology, and exercise science has inspired me to continue my education after completing my undergraduate degree. Professor Iso-Ahola encourages all of his students to succeed, and like him I hope to become a professor and strong mentor to undergraduate students.




Landon Wilson
Teacher Mentor: Lynn Campbell, Northside High School, Warner Robins, GA
Faculty Mentor: Peggy Wilson, Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership

Ms. Lynn Campbell was the first educator I ever had who made me feel “seen,” and it is because of her leadership, guidance, and example that I chose to pursue education as my major. Her English classes challenged me, and sometimes frustrated me, but overall led me to material I wanted to learn and showed me how to be a strong student. Here at University of Maryland, Professor Peggy Wilson’s mentorship and influence has allowed me to research current educational practices, engage with critical pedagogy, and work towards becoming the educator I want to be. Without the guidance and support of both of these mentors, I don't know where I would be as a student, a youth advocate, and a future educator.

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