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Merrill Presidential Scholars Program


The 2014-2015 Merrill Presidential Scholars

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

Eric Bailey
A. James Clark School of Engineering

Mackenzie Burnett
Undergraduate Studies

Kelsey Hughes
Philip Merrill College of Journalism

Zachary Siegel
College of Computer Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences

Anthony Belton
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Fang Cao
College of Computer Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences

Geoffrey Ji
College of Computer Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences

Michael Sikorski
A. James Clark School of Engineering

Lindsey Benjamin
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Emily Cheung
College of Arts and Humanities

Margaret Kahwaty
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Hailey Thometz
Richard H. Smith School of Business

Allison Bostrom
College of Computer Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences

Ellen Clark
School of Public Health

Charlotte McCafferty
School of Public Health

Lindsey Weilminster
Richard H. Smith School of Business

Eric Bricker
College of Arts and Humanities

Lilybelle Davis
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Lisa Ramsburg
School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Barret Wessel
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Chelsea Brown
College of Arts and Humanities

Zoe Di Giorgio
College of Arts and Humanities

Pavan Rangachar
Richard H. Smith School of Business

Christina Winkler
College of Education

 

 

 

Isaac Zaydens
A. James Clark School of Engineering

Past Merrill Presidential Scholars

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


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
View an image slideshow from the 2008 Merrill Presidential Scholars Luncheon


The 2007-2008 Merrill Scholars
Pictures from the 2007 Merrill Presidential Scholars Luncheon 


The 2006-2007 Merrill Scholars
Pictures from the 2006 Merrill Presidential Scholars Luncheon


The 2005-2006 Merrill Scholars
Pictures from the 2005 Merrill Presidential Scholars Luncheon


The 2004-2005 Merrill Scholars
Pictures and statements.


 

The 2014-2015 Merrill Presidential Scholars

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Barret Wessel

Barret Wessel

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Peter May
Department of Environmental Science and Technology

Teacher Mentor
Marianne Rudden
Oakland Mills High School
Columbia, MD

I wouldn't be who I am today without the guidance of two mentors: Ms. Marianne Rudden, my middle school science teacher, and Dr. Peter May, my water quality and ecology professor here at UMD.  Ms. Rudden helped to open my eyes to science.  Her class was always fascinating and challenging, but there was one day in particular that I stayed after to ask a few more questions.  The questions went beyond the scope of the class, so she encouraged me to pick up college textbooks and find answers on my own, assuring me that I would be able to understand them if I tried.  It's been a long road since that day, but she helped me establish this habit of learning beyond the classroom. Prof. May's courses have been some of the most interesting that I have taken.  His stories of working as a professional scientist, as well as of his own time as a student, have always been a source of entertainment and inspiration.  Our discussions outside of class have allowed me to explore many of my interests and ideas in greater depth, and he has been there to offer support and advice.  It is during tough times that I remember why I came here and why I work as hard as I do: to make my mentor's proud, to earn the opportunities that I have been given, and to pay them forward when it is my time to do so.

School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Lisa Ramsburg

Lisa Ramsburg

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Lester Escobal
School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Teacher Mentor
Michelle Shearer
Urbana High School
Fredrick, MD

During my sophomore year of high school, I took on the daunting task of completing my first AP course: Chemistry.  To my surprise, the lessons I learned during the year went far beyond thermodynamics and chemical reactions. Ms. Michelle Shearer set high expectations for me, but always gave me the tools needed to meet them.  Seeing her passion for teaching has encouraged me to find the career path that will bring me fulfillment, even if it means that I have a difficult journey to get there.  Many others feel the same way about her, and in 2011, she was named the National Teacher of the Year.  Prof. Lester Escobal teaches architectural drawing, a course that gives students their first glimpse into the culture of the architecture studio.  What stands out to me most about Prof. Escobal is how much he cares about his students.  He is the kind of teacher that is happy to sacrifice his free time if a student needs extra help or encouragement. In fact, it's common to encounter him wandering through the studio on the weekends, checking in on old students, always willing to give advice.  I feel very lucky to know that Prof. Escobal will be there to support me for the rest of my architectural education and beyond.

College of Arts and Humanities

Eric Bricker

Eric Bricker

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Mark Forrester
Department of English

Teacher Mentor
Ann Hogg
Hammond High School
Columbia, MD

Of all the fantastic teachers I have had over the course of my academic career, those who really stand out are the ones who pushed me out of my comfort zone. My AP Government and World History teacher, Ms. Ann Hogg helped me refine my ideas about writing and scholarship. More than any other teacher, she stressed the sort of practical mechanics and strategies that have helped make me the student I am today. She explained how to write an essay in a way that maximized my time and word count, how to line up my ideas before an exam, and how to quickly recall information or speed-read a book chapter. Ms. Hogg was an excellent, well-spoken teacher who welcomed debate and yet was unafraid to tell students the ugly truths that would prove beneficial in the long run. Prof. Mark Forrester of the English Department was the kind of professor I needed to shake me out of my academic complacency. Though I initially resented having to take a professional writing course, my semester with Prof. Forrester helped me get back to basics, as a writer and as a scholar. He stressed good research techniques and broke bad writing habits, all while taking a close personal interest in each of his individual students.

Chelsea Brown

Chelsea Brown

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Patrick Widrig
School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies

Teacher Mentor
Melissa Bell
Broadneck Senior High School
Annapolis, MD

I knew who Ms. Melissa Bell ("Coach O") was long before having her as a dance company coach. I had been attending Dance Company concerts since elementary school and had always dreamed of the day when I would be a member. I looked to Coach O as a dance teacher, mentor, role model, and friend. She motivated and helped me to improve my technique, performance quality, and choreography. As co-captain, I was able to work closely with Coach O.  She always had high standards for her dancers and motivated me to set high standards for myself. Prof. Patrik Widrig, my dance professor at the University of Maryland, also pushes and encourages his students to set ambitious goals.  Prof. Widrig makes an effort to connect with each of his students personally. My dancing grew the most during his modern technique class, thanks to his improvisation-focused teaching style. Both of these mentors have made lasting impressions on me and have contributed to providing me with the skills that I need and use every day.

Emily Cheung

Emily Cheung

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Minglang Zhou
School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Teacher Mentor
Christopher Lopez
Notre Dame Preparatory School
Towson, MD

I'll always remember how frustrated I was during those first few weeks of World Cultures my freshman year at Notre Dame Prep. Mr. Christopher Lopez never stopped asking us questions that we could not answer: why is it fine for girls to wear sweatshirts supporting boys' schools, but weird for boys to wear sweatshirts from all girls' schools? Why is everyone's idea of ideal beauty the same? I did not realize it at the time, but he was teaching us to think critically about society and to question cultural norms that we take for granted.  I was fortunate to have Mr. Lopez as both my junior year homeroom teacher and as a teacher in a historical fiction class.  Whether discussing religious and personal beliefs during junior year retreat or debating the historical accuracy of Braveheart, Mr. Lopez taught me one of the most valuable skills in the world: to think critically and deeply. At the University of Maryland, Prof. Minglang Zhou pushes and challenges me in a very similar way in his Chinese linguistics classes. To him, it is not enough to come to class and ask a question; you need to thoughtfully and fully immerse yourself in the discussion to gain full attendance points. It is not enough to give a summary when writing a reflection of class readings; you need to incorporate your own experiences and reference additional literature to do a full analysis of the text. I may work harder in Prof. Zhou's classes than I do in almost any other class at UMD, but I produce much higher quality work as a result. I am incredibly grateful for Mr. Lopez and Prof. Zhou, not only for their mentorship and encouragement, but also for their insistence that I never stop challenging myself.

Zoe Di GiorgioZoe Di Giorgio

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Michael Olmert*
Department of English

Teacher Mentor
Elisabeth Hobson
Forest Lakes Elementary School
Forest Hill, MD

The teachers that have stood out in my academic career are the ones who remind me that I am capable of anything. My third grade teacher, Ms.. Elizabeth Hobson, was the first teacher who told me that there are no limits to what I can do if I put my mind to it. While other teachers had thought that I was a troublemaker or nuisance, Ms.. Hobson recognized my potential and fostered it.  She not only taught me math, science, language, and history, but also to think about these subjects creatively and independently.  Ms.. Hobson's genuine care and concern encouraged me to keep reading and doing what I loved, as well as to see the possibilities of my future.  At the University of Maryland, Prof. Michael Olmert has continued to challenge me to explore more possibilities for what I can do in the future.  Last semester, Prof. Olmert's course on modern British drama introduced me to playwriting, and he has since shared examples of his own writing with me to show me how I, too, can write plays if I wish.  This past semester, his class on Folklore in literature made me strongly consider pursuing my study of English literature at the graduate level.  Prof. Olmert constantly reminds students that an English class that doesn't require you to write is not a class worth taking.  Prof. Olmert has helped me to learn and grow both inside and outside the classroom, and I'll take his lessons with me well beyond my graduation.

*Professor Olmert was named Faculty Mentor by 2007-2008, 2010-2011, and 2012-2013 Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars

Richard H. Smith School of Business

Pavan Rangachar

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Joseph Rinaldi
Department of Finance

Teacher Mentor
Donald Ayotte
Thomas S. Wootton High School
Rockville, MD

I feel very lucky to have had so many great professors and mentors throughout my life.  Their constant help and guidance have inspired me to develop myself professionally and always do my best.  Mr. Donald Ayotte, my high school chemistry teacher, was very passionate about his subject.  His dedication to his students, both in and out of the classroom, inspired me to always try to go above and beyond.  Prof. Joseph Rinaldi, my college professor for Futures & Options, is another mentor whom I appreciate. I enjoyed many aspects of his class, especially how he used real world examples to teach students.  He also helped his students as much as possible in actually attaining a full time job and/or internship out of college. I am truly grateful to have had such great professors and mentors throughout my education.

Hailey Thometz

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Susan Powell
Robert H. Smith School of Business

Teacher Mentor
Dawn Tache
Atholton High School
Columbia, MD

Throughout high school, Ms.. Dawn Tache was always there for me as a teacher and mentor helping me challenge myself to succeed academically.  In AP Government and AP Human Geography, she made the class lessons engaging and relevant so that we would be able to use the information that we learned. I found her classes to be challenging, but because she made them so interesting I was motivated to work hard to learn the coursework.  She truly cared about the success of all of her students and because of her constant support throughout high school, I transitioned to the academic rigor of my college classes more easily.  At the University of Maryland, I have been lucky enough to find a similar mentor figure in Prof. Susan Powell.  I was the TA for her Career Search and Strategies course, and throughout the semester she was always there for me if I ever needed any clarifications regarding the course, or even personal career advice.  I was able to see firsthand how much time she would put aside to give one-on-one career reviews and assistance to her students.  She would always stay after class to check up with her students' career search because she sincerely wanted them to succeed.  I am forever grateful for the support from my mentors.  Because of all of their help and guidance, I am now even further motivated to achieve my academic goals and someday be a mentor to future students.

Lindsey Weilminster

Lindsey Weilminster

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Susan White*
Department of Finance

Teacher Mentor
Dina Reyes
Mt. Hebron High School
Ellicott City, MD

It is often easy for students to forget that creativity and artistic expression are essential facets of a balanced education.  Ms. Dina Reyes is a true advocate for the arts as a pillar of education, offering dance courses for all students, regardless of skill or experience.  Through her guidance and mentorship, I was able to find my creative voice in the way I interpret information and approach problems.  From day one, she provided her students with the skills they needed to believe in themselves, not only as artists but also as leaders.  This inspired me to become the captain of the Dance Company under her guidance, and to continue to pursue leadership roles today.  In the Smith School, I have created a similar relationship with Prof. Susan White.  In addition to serving as an academic mentor to me through her leadership on the Undergraduate Programming Committee, Prof. White led my short-term study abroad trip to Nicaragua.  During this trip, she demonstrated to each student that while financial analysis and micro-finance are important in helping entrepreneurial ventures in developing countries, the human aspect of social value creation is what truly makes an impact.  Prof. White showed me that it is possible to leverage business knowledge to instill a positive social change in the lives of others.  The guidance that I have received from both Ms. Reyes and Prof. White has undoubtedly shaped the way I approach my education and life today.

*Professor White was named Faculty Mentor by 2007-2008 and 2009-2010 Philip Merrill Scholars.

 

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Anthony Belton

Anthony Belton

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Rashawn Ray
Department of Sociology

Teacher Mentor
Reginald McNeil
Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Greenbelt, MD

Mr. Reginald McNeil was my high school principal, and also served as a role model for me by providing guidance on college applications and informing me of extracurricular opportunities at school.  Mr. McNeil set a high standard of professionalism and respect for others that I consistently aspire to, and was a model principal.  Prof. Rashawn Ray's sociology course on race and class-based identities was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my academic career.  In each class, I was astounded by the care and dedication he puts into facilitating a productive class discussion on assigned readings.  I am also impressed by Prof. Ray's incorporation of personal anecdotes into his teaching, as they relate to topics and relevant facts to the classroom.  Prof. Ray made each class engaging and rewarding to attend, but most of all I am thankful for the quality education I received in his class.  Prof. Ray has supported me in my interest in becoming a lawyer by informing me of on-campus events targeted towards those interested in pursuing law school.  He has also made me aware of research opportunities on campus in the sociology field.

Lindsey Benjamin

Lindsey Benjamin

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Jonathan Beier
Department of Psychology

Teacher Mentor
Nancy O'Donell
Upper Dublin High School
Fort Washington, PA

I will never forget the day in my eleventh grade European History class when Ms.. Nancy O'Donnell returned my first exam with a giant red C glaring back at me.  When I met with her after class to discuss my frustration, she put her hand on my shoulder and said, "You know Linds, memorizing isn't the same thing as understanding."  From that moment on, I completely changed my approach to learning.  Instead of reciting sentences verbatim from a textbook, I talked through concepts in my own words and pieced single events together to understand the larger picture.  Not only did Ms.. O'Donnell teach me to think more analytically, but her passion for the subject also instilled in me a profound appreciation of history and art.  During my semester abroad in Europe last spring, whenever I walked through a museum or cathedral, I was in awe at how much I still remembered from a course that I took four years ago.  I watched as Ms.. O'Donnell's giant chalkboard of notes jolted to life in the museums, cathedrals, and medieval cobblestone streets and was again reminded of the massive impact that she had on me.  Last year, I was fortunate enough to have another teacher who pushed my boundaries and completely altered my way of thinking.  Prof. Jonathan Beier's Developmental Social Cognition Course was a discussion-based class, centered on contemporary psychology research. Instead of focusing on test scores and insisting that we learn ridiculous amounts of unrelated information, Prof. Beier was more concerned with developing his students' abilities to analyze, criticize, and clearly convey their opinions.  Just like Ms.. O'Donnell, it was evident that Prof. Beier had a genuine desire for his students to grow as learners and thinkers.  The impact that these two life-changing mentors had on me has helped make my decision to enter the field of education and hopefully have a similar impact on my future students.

 

Lilybelle Davis

Lilybelle Davis

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Cindy Clement
Department of Economics

Teacher Mentor
Kelly Price
Bowie High School
Bowie, MD

Both of my mentors have shaped my academic and professional trajectory by illuminating possibilities. Many of my counterparts in high school learned literature in confined courses that drew from a narrow pool of authors. Ms. Kelly Price ignited not just a passion for classic works, but an interest in contemporary pieces. I learned to love Hawthorne as much as I did Klosterman. Her appreciation of unconventionality ultimately supported my college decision and area of study.  Ms. Price validated my decision to venture on a new path. When I entered the University of Maryland as an economics major, I lacked clarity seeing my end goal. Prof. Cindy Clement, my first Economics lecturer, is the reason for my success in my major. Through numerous office hours that continued beyond the course, she assisted me in selecting classes, landing my Google internship, and gaining admission to the London School of Economics. Prof. Clement pushed me outside my comfort zone and revealed strengths I did not know I had. As I look ahead to the next stages of my development, it is the fearlessness provided by my mentors that propels me forward.

Margaret Kahwaty

Margaret Kahwaty

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Yi Ting Huang
Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences

Teacher Mentor
Lauren Schwer
Good Counsel High School
Chicago, IL

The most effective mentors exude endless amounts of enthusiasm for their subject areas and inspire others to be confident and do their best. Ms. Lauren Schwer and Prof. Yi Ting Huang have more than done this for me.  Ms. Schwer was my religion teacher during junior year of high school.  I travelled with her on various community service trips, from places as wide and varied as Camden, New Jersey to Zaragoza, El Salvador.  She taught me to be committed to causes bigger than myself and to recognize what I can do to relieve the pain of those in need.  She was tireless in emphasizing that every little bit helps, which has really stuck with me many years later.  I would say that Ms. Schwer was the first person I've come across who expected more from me than I expected from myself.  Sometime later, at the University of Maryland, I took an upper level language development class in support of my Hearing and Speech major with Prof. Huang.  She grabbed my attention from the first day of class with her engaging lecture style, interactive in-class activities, and real-world examples.  Completely enthralled, I soon began conducting research in the field of child language development under her guidance.  I was able to watch Prof. Huang apply her expertise to dissecting the process of how children acquire language.  I'll always remember her excitement as our research unfolded, which exemplified to me the importance of really loving what you do.  It is inspiring to see the impact that my mentors have had on the bigger world, and their commitment and enthusiasm have made me strive to one day have the same level of impact.

College of Computer Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences

Allison Bostrom

Allison Bostrom

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Chris Reynolds
Department of Astronomy

Teacher Mentor
Lisa Marcote
Floral Park Memorial High School
Floral Park, NY

It is not easy for a teacher to maintain enthusiasm for a subject area year after year, but Ms.. Lisa Marcote made calculus the most exciting part of my day.  With her catchphrases to help us remember math concepts, such as "flip it through" to divide by a monomial, Ms.. Marcote kept my calculus and pre-calculus classes exciting and upbeat.  Between practice test soundtracks of "Calculus the Musical" and "Eye of the Tiger" and her smiley faces and sticker charts, Ms.. Marcote always knew how to keep students engaged.  She continued to encourage me to pursue STEM fields throughout college by providing me with recommendation letters and keeping up by email, I am truly grateful for her positive influence on my academic career.  My research advisor here at UMD, Prof. Chris Reynolds, has also provided me with an incredible level of support and encouragement.  Prof. Reynolds makes every effort to be available as an advisor, and always makes time for weekly meetings to answer my questions and check on my progress.  His feedback and positive attitude toward my projects have made me feel welcome in the department and confident about my abilities as a researcher.

Fang Cao

Fang Cao

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Todd Cook
Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics

Teacher Mentor
Angelique Bosse
Montgomery Blair High School
Silver Spring, MD

Perhaps my most enjoyable times at Blair High School were spent in Ms. Angelique Bosse's classroom, where I was taught the foundations of biology.  Ms. Bosse not only showed me the full expanse of the world of biology, but also allowed me to participate hands-on in many experiments to truly understand and enjoy its various aspects.  Taking me on as a teaching assistant, Ms. Bosse trusted me to prepare labs and help students understand concepts, and inspired in me a love for teaching that has stayed with me to this day.  My love of biology and teaching allowed me to instantly connect with Prof. Todd Cooke, who taught my freshman biology class using novel strategies designed to integrate biology with all the sciences.  Prof. Cooke truly depicted biology at its best and is able to tie together the fields of chemistry, physics and math.  Throughout the past three years, Prof. Cooke has taken me on as a teaching assistant, mentored me toward a national scholarship, and helped me sponsored a tutoring effort to help local students.  What is truly astounding about Dr. Cooke is that his support for me is hardly unique – over one hundred students throughout campus look to him for help and advice.  UMD's students make it as far as we do only with the unwavering support of amazing faculty like Prof. Cooke, and we can only make it to UMD with teachers as incredible as Ms. Bosse.

Geoffrey Ji

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Christopher Monroe
Department of Physics

Teacher Mentor
Michael Willard
Richard Montgomery High School
Rockville, MD

For most of high school, physics was not a huge interest of mine.  Mr. Michael Willard helped to catalyze my interest in the subject.  He didn't just teach physics but helped students learn through demonstrations and guided experiments.  Class became exciting and challenging, and I looked forward to going each day.  His influence led me to pursue physics in college.  At the University of Maryland, Prof. Christopher Monroe has demonstrated exceptional mentorship.  My first physics course was taught by Prof. Monroe.  His coursework was challenging but rewarding, and taught me a great deal about being a physicist.  I also had the opportunity to conduct research in Prof. Monroe's lab.  Three years later, I am still working under his guidance.  I owe a great deal of my success to the guidance and opportunities provided by my mentors, and I am indebted to them for their advice and support.

Zachary Siegal

Zachary Siegel

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Victor Yakovenko
Department of Physics

Teacher Mentor
James Turner
Thomas S. Wootton High School
Rockville, MD

I owe much of my knowledge in computer science to my high school programming teacher, Mr. Paul Turner.  After taking Programming 1 as a freshman, I was hooked and continued to learn from him for three years of high school.  Mr. Turner pushed us to find unique solutions to difficult problems and always encouraged us to use our full potential.  The skills I learned in his classes have served me well as a computer science major at UMD.  I also looked forward to taking the upper level classes required for my second major, physics.  I had the pleasure of taking Quantum Mechanics 2 with Prof. Victor Yakovenko.  He conveyed his passion for the subject and showed me how exciting physics can be.  As my faculty mentor, he told me about his journey to obtain his degree and select his field of study.  He has provided meaningful insight on how to approach my future.  These two teachers have given me invaluable advice, skills, and passions that I know will last me a lifetime.

 

College of Education

Christina Winkler

Christina Winkler

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

Teacher Mentor
Joshua Gebhardt
Ridge High School
Basking Ridge, NJ

Mr. Joshua Gebhardt was a passionate teacher.  Whether we were translating a thorny passage of Cicero's rhetoric or analyzing the poetic devices Vergil chose, Mr. Gebhardt's enthusiasm and encouragement was contagious and he made each of us want to be a better student.  On the day before our AP exam, most teachers pack up at the end of the day and wish their students good luck.  Not Mr. Gebhardt.  We sat in his room until 9 o'clock at night and reviewed thousands of lines of text, word by word.  This is the kind of teacher I aspire to be.  At the University of Maryland, Prof. Debra Neubert challenged me to consider the concept of universal design and accessibility for all types of learners and all types of people.  She provided us with resources we would need to succeed, not just in her class, but as professional educators.  She was the first professor I had who was concerned about my success as a professional after I left her classroom.  Both Mr. Gebhardt and Prof. Neubert taught me that in order for students to grasp the content of a class, they need to be engaged and invested in it.  Both of these educators inspire me to be an educator like them.

*Professor Neubert was named Faculty Mentor by a 2013-2014 Philip Merrill Scholar.

 

A. James Clark School of Engineering

Eric Bailey

Eric Bailey

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Sheryl Ehrman
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Teacher Mentor
Cheryl Shiflett
Chesapeake High School
Pasadena, MD

I do not know how she did it, but Ms. Cheryl Shiflett made my seventh grade English class something that I looked forward to every day.  Besides the grammar and literary elements I learned from her, she showed me at an early age how important it is to have fun and enjoy the process of learning.  Upon entering high school, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that she was going to be changing roles and would still be able to mentor me as my guidance counselor.  After encouraging me to participate in a variety of activities and seeking my assistance to tutor struggling students, she helped me find much needed self-confidence and showed me how rewarding it can be to step outside of my comfort zone.  After arriving to this large university, I was afraid I would lose that personal connection with professors and mentors, but I was lucky enough to be in Prof. Sheryl Ehrman's section for ENES100.  While building the hovercraft, she allowed us to solve problems by ourselves and make our own mistakes, but then cheerfully shared in the glory of our successes. She helped me realize the importance of learning from mistakes and she showed me how much I am capable of accomplishing with enough time and effort.  Since the fall of my freshman year, she has patiently advised and guided me through several academic and professional decisions.  The lessons that Ms. Shiflett and Prof. Ehrman have taught me have been integral to my academic and extracurricular successes and for that I am very grateful.

Michael Sikorski

Michael Sikorski

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Peter Kofinas
Fischell Department of Bioengineering

Teacher Mentor
John Costantini
Centennial High School
Ellicott City, MD

Mr. John "Doc" Costantini cares about his students as much as he loves the great literary figures to which he has dedicated his life to study and teach.  He has demonstrated extraordinary ability to engage and inspire his students.  His students return home eager to explore literary criticism on works by E.M. Forster, James Joyce, and his personal favorite, D.H. Lawrence.  Since I left his classroom three years ago, I have cherished his advice and friendship. He is concluding his teaching career this year and I know that thousands of students are grateful for his impact on their education.  At the University of Maryland, Prof. Peter Kofinas has also influenced my education and life in a profound way.  Beyond the role as my research mentor, he has taken part in every one of my proudest moments in college, from research and academic accomplishments to personal achievements.  I most admire how Prof. Kofinas is not only a sincere advocate for his students, but he also leverages his resources and provides support towards every one of his students' career aspirations.

Isaac ZaydensIsaac Zaydens

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Richard Bell
Department of History

Teacher Mentor
Barbara Kondratowicz
Paramus High School
Paramus, NJ

Ms. Barbara Kondratowicz was one of my most influential teachers during my academic career.  Ms. Kondratowicz valued education and the thirst for knowledge like no other teacher I've had.  She made me want to learn, and taught me that knowledge is one of the most important things a person can gain.  Even though social studies was not my favorite subject, I loved having Ms. Kondratowicz as a teacher and a role model.  At the University of Maryland, I had the pleasure of being taught by Prof. Richard James Bell.  I planned to take an easy first semester to get accustomed to college but fortunately, Prof. Bell did not give me that opportunity.  His class was very demanding and the homework assignments were long and difficult.  Prof. Bell, much like Ms. Kondratowicz, expected our best performance during class and on assignments.  I am academically successful because Prof. Bell pushed me to my limits and brought out a work ethic that I never knew I had.  He inspired me to try and meet his high standards.  I am very lucky to know both Ms. Kondratowicz and Prof. Bell.

Philip Merrill College of Journalism

Kelsey HughesKelsey Hughes

Maryland Faculty Mentor
John Sham
Philip Merrill College of Journalism

Teacher Mentor
Chris Corlies
Abington Senior High School
Abington, PA

I have had the great fortune of having many inspiring people in my life who have helped me to get to where I am today. But among those many role models, Ms. Chris Corlies, my high school English teacher, stands out as someone who has always inspired me with her confidence, biting wit, and deeply analytical and insightful nature.  It has been four years since I sat in her eighth period AP Language and Composition class, and yet I still vividly remember her passion for literature and writing.  Since I've arrived at college, Prof. Jon Sham has become a mentor to me.  I first met him in my sophomore year multimedia class, and soon became his intern at the Baltimore Sun Media Group.  Since then, Prof. Sham has helped me to determine what I want to do once I graduate, introducing me to others who could offer their own advice and making me aware of opportunities to gain more experience.  It is because of him that I have developed my passion for photography and a better sense of my abilities.  I am eternally grateful to both of my mentors for always treating me as an adult and an equal, and for helping me along my path to success.

School of Public Health

Ellen Clark

Ellen Clark

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

Teacher Mentor
Anthony Cianciolo
Masuk High School
Monroe, CT

Mr. Cianciolo, or "Mr. C," as most students called him, was my photography teacher at Masuk High School.  The darkroom and photography classroom were my second home, and it was there that I truly felt most comfortable.  I spent time developing film and working on projects, but most of my time was spent talking with Mr. C.  He supported me throughout my high school years and beyond graduation, motivated me to learn about my goals and my values, and was always there to listen and offer guidance and support.  Mr. C encouraged me to pursue my passions for science and the arts, challenged my creativity, and inspired me to have confidence in myself.  I cannot thank Mr. C enough for the influence he has had on my life. In my freshman year in college, I took an introductory public health class with Prof. Donna Howard. She encouraged me to pursue my interests by sharing her own passion for health and for teaching.  Prof. Howard urged me to step out of my comfort zone when I studied abroad. Prof. Howard develops meaningful relationships with her colleagues, students, and friends that show her desire to help others and make a positive impact in the world. She has inspired me to keep an open mind, enjoy the little details in life, and to have confidence to pursue my goals.

*Professor Howard was named Faculty Mentor by 2006-2007, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 Philip Merrill Scholars.

Charlotte McCafferty

Charlotte McCafferty

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Sue Briggs
Director of CIVICUS

Teacher Mentor
Michelle Vihonski
Milburn High School
Webster, TX

The mentors who have led me to where I am today are more than just my teachers.  They served as positive influences outside of the academic world, bringing meaning to my life by teaching me responsibility and hard work and believing in my abilities to make positive change in my communities.  Ms. Michelle Vihonski, my homeroom teacher throughout my four years of high school and my sophomore English teacher, was a source of comfort and inspiration.  Her class was designed for free and honest expression.  Her innovative and active lesson plans made me want to come to class, and her genuine interest in our ideas and opinions showed the mark of a true educator.  Ms.. Vihonski taught me that teachers can offer so much more than just scholastic material; they can offer guidance, friendship, and support.  Upon arriving at the University of Maryland, I was immediately introduced to and influenced by Prof. Sue Briggs.  Prof. Briggs is the director of CIVICUS and teaches classes for the program. She taught me about individual responsibility in upholding my commitments, and the responsibility for helping those around me who are in need.  Her courses stressed the importance of leadership and diversity, and gave me confidence in my abilities to actively create positive change through my involvement in internships and volunteer programs. Both mentors have helped me grow academically, but more importantly in my eyes, become a better person.

Undergraduate Studies

Mackenzie Burnett

Mackenzie Burnett

Maryland Faculty Mentor
Paul Huth
Department of Government and Politics

Teacher Mentor
Laura Farro
Wilde Lake High School
Fulton, MD

My mentor in high school was my Italian teacher, Signora Laura Farro.  I first met her when I visited my high school as an eighth grader, trying to decide which language to take.  She was energetic, funny, and encouraged me to take Italian.  Four years later, I was her student aide and went to her for advice on many different subjects.  When I was a junior in high school, I disagreed with some advisors over a Class Council policy.  Upset, I asked to speak with Signora Farro.  She sat me down in the middle of the day and spoke with me for over half an hour.  We talked about leadership, handling difficult people, and looking beyond high school.  I'll always remember how she always took time for me.  I respect her immensely and always make sure to catch up with her when I go home.  Prof. Paul Huth is my faculty mentor for my Individual Studies major, International Relations.  He has worked with me since my freshman year to focus my studies into a four-year concentration on diplomatic processes and policy making.  I sought out his mentorship because of his experience researching international negotiations and his leadership within the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.  He has helped me shape my interests and focus my intentions for my Capstone project.

   

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