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Merrill Presidential Scholars Program

Office of Undergraduate Studies

Merrill Presidential Scholars Program

The 2006-2007 Merrill Presidential Scholars

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.

Andrea Berry
Philip Merrill School of Journalism

Gregory Brouillette Robert H. Smith School of Business

Jessica Chang
College of Computer, Mahematical and Physical Sciences
Donna Chiu
Philip Merrill School of Journalism

Carin Cordelli
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Kelly Fitzgerald
Undergraduate Studies-Individual Studies Program
Mari-Elise Gates
College of Arts and Humanities
Melissa Gavin
College of Health and Human Performance
Laurel Jefferson
College of Arts and Humanities
Nikhil Joshi
College of Chemical and Life Sciences
Lauren Kirkwood
School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Stasia Levin
College of Education
Mindy Levine
College of Education
Robyn Littman
College of Arts and Humanities
Alexandra Lockwood
College of Computer, Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Lauren Meley
Robert H. Smith School of Business
Diana Newsom
College of Chemical and Life Sciences
Laura Schofield
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Kelly Scoville
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Emma Simson
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Vanessa Sitler
Robert H. Smith School of Business
Jennifer Thompson
A. James Clark School of Engineering
Elissa Washuta
College of Arts and Humanities
Tara Williamson
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Travis Young
A. James Clark School of Engineering

Andrea BerryAndrea Berry: Lorraine Svilar was my 10th- and 11th-grade journalism teacher, and she always demanded our best. She taught me to write my first lead and introduced me to the inverted pyramid style of journalistic writing. When she critiqued our stories, she never sugarcoated. If it was good, she told us why, and if it wasn’t, she told us that, too. She also advised our award-winning newspaper, The Bellarion. We spent long nights on deadline, making sure each issue lived up to exacting standards. Ms. Svilar was always there beside us. Ms. Sue Kopen Katcef made me proud to be a broadcast journalist. In her broadcast news writing course, she taught how sound creates vivid stories that are fun to write and hear. Her enthusiasm and passion were contagious. They gave students the drive to take a microphone anywhere -- from acupuncture to Baton Rouge. She created “Terp Weekly Edition,” a WMUC radio news program that received accolades in its infancy. Finally, her accessibility is legendary. Students with questions can expect an e-mail in a couple of hour…tops.

 

 

Gregory BrouilletteGregory Brouillette: The greatest lessons I learned in high school were how to challenge myself both academically and personally. I credit these practices to one of my high school teachers, Ms. Patricia Kuecker. She was always willing and ready to encourage her students and reassure them of their potential. When high school graduation came close, I had no idea what I wanted to do or if I was talented enough to follow the path of my choice. Ms. Kuecker made me feel empowered and motivated me to challenge myself. I credit much of my academic and personal success to her guidance. Dr. Donald Knight was my instructor in Management and Organization the first semester I was enrolled in The Robert H. Smith School of Business. Dr. Knight’s course was very enjoyable as he encouraged students to participate and challenge themselves. Dr. Knight was always accessible and ready to assist his students in any way possible. His course helped me to transition as a new student in Business School and also gave me confidence to succeed in my other business courses. Jessica ChangJessica Chang: Though I have always had an interest in math, Ms. Nannette Dyas played a significant role in spurring me to rise above the standard expectations of the curriculum. I am particularly grateful for the patience she exhibited in and out of the classroom. She never hesitated to re-explain material that was difficult to digest and I have always appreciated her straightforward and clear manner of teaching. Dr. Samir Khuller also presented concepts in a concise manner. I recently took an algorithms course with him in which he maintained an open mind as students suggested different approaches to specific problems. If the argument was flawed, he always explained the precise point where it failed, adding a depth to the course that exceeded the presentation of merely conventional methods. Since then, Dr. Khuller has shown me more of what research in theoretical computer science entails and his positive attitude has encouraged me to invest more of my time and energy in this area of study.

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Donna ChiuDonna Chiu: I have learned that challenges push you to gain a better sense of yourself and what you can do. I owe much of my sense of self to two of my journalism teachers, whose impact testifies to how vital caring teachers can be. Ms. Evva Starr spent four years guiding me through the demanding yet rewarding experience of high school journalism. Staying many late nights at school with our newspaper staff, she believed in our ability to produce quality work and taught us to accept only the best from ourselves. Her willingness to share her experiences, as well as her continuing practice of journalistic integrity, helped me to develop my journalism skills and shaped my character. Ms. Christine Harvey also invested her time and interest in students at the University of Maryland, always looking for ways to help them achieve their individual goals. She used her resources, knowledge and extensive experience to provide any support she could. Applying her lessons to the real world, she discussed current online practices and even arranged a field trip for us to see the inner workings of USA Today.

 

Carin Cordelli: Dr. Nancy Dorsey-Mott who taught Advanced Placement Biology at Ridgefield High School was the teacher who most influenced my passion for biology. Her biology class was the most challenging and inspiring of the classes I took in high school. She approaches biology with humor and enthusiasm and took time outside of the classroom to help students study. She was also my faculty mentor for my senior year internship, the experience which led to my decision to pursue veterinary medicine as a career. At the University of Maryland, Dr. Mark Varner taught the most interesting class I’ve taken, Animal Physiology. He encourages his students to form study groups, and he comes to the study groups every week to answer questions and explain concepts. He challenges students to do more than memorize facts; he makes you think about the material, analyze it, and apply it to different situations. His faith in my ability and his genuine interest in my education and future plans are what make him a great mentor. Both Dr. Dorsey-Mott and Dr. Varner are people who have made a difference in my life. Their guidance and support have been an important part of my education. Kelly FitzgeraldKelly Fitzgerald: A split-second decision to join Notre Dame’s cross country team turned into a high school experience guided by the most inspiring coach, role model, and leader: Mr. Edward Donnellan. As my social issues teacher, community service director, and cross country and track coach, Mr. Donnellan widened my perspective by connecting the classroom, the field, and community projects. He promoted civic responsibility and took leadership initiative by encouraging his students to participate in Habitat for Humanity trips, summer youth camps for inner-city children, and dinners with the elderly, to name a few. I found the same dedication to civic responsibility and leadership in Dr. Nina Harris, when I walked into my first College Park Scholars Public Leadership class. Ever since, Dr. Harris has guided me through my experience at the University of Maryland and she currently serves as my faculty sponsor for my Individual Studies Program in Public Policy. Both Mr. Donnellan and Dr. Harris have individually helped to shape my future goals and their devotion to education makes them outstanding mentors for all of their students.

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Mari-Elise GatesMari-Elise Gates: (Prof. Anne Warren *** ‘04-‘05) Throughout my education, I have been very fortunate to have had several inspiring mentors. Ms. Sue Peters, my high school physical education teacher and Student Council advisor, was truly one of the most demanding and inspirational influences in my life. She taught me to expect the best from myself and to settle for nothing less. I learned commitment, responsibility, and perseverance while working under her to plan and facilitate creative Student Council activities. Ms. Peters, who took me under her wing, pushed me harder than any other teacher has ever pushed me, and I cannot thank her enough for it Professor Anne Warren picked up where Ms. Peters left off, affording me opportunities that allowed me to pursue my academic and personal interests, particularly in the fields of dance education and arts advocacy. As a professor, Anne Warren demanded excellence from me, forcing me to think and choreograph beyond my comfort zone. She has treated me as an equal and given me the chance to take my education outside of the classroom. Not only does Anne Warren give me advice and guidance, but she provides me with continual support and encouragement.

 

Melissa GavinMelissa Gavin: The two women I elected to be named for this honor are both inspirational educators. Ms. Sylvia Kim was my high school English teacher at Colonel Zadok Magruder High School. My classroom time with her extended into extra curricular activities where we contributed to the literary magazine and the yearbook. Ms. Kim taught me to always set the bar a little higher. Dr. Donna Howard is my University of Maryland mentor. She has inspired me to enter the field of Public and Community Health. In addition, she has introduced me to undergraduate research. Both Ms. Kim and Dr. Howard use their classrooms as springboards for student development. From both of these gifted teachers I have learned to balance the academic and the practical. I am privileged to have worked under and learned from these two fine professors. They have shaped me as a student and as a person. I credit them with much of my success thus far. Laurel JeffersonLaurel Jefferson: (Dr. Lauretta Clough *** ’05-’06) Great teachers teach with an absolute love of their subjects. Mr. George Vlasits, my high school history teacher, lectured with an honest enthusiasm that sparked interest even in the most reluctant students. He provided constant individual attention and was always available for post-class questions or problems, striving to help each student see the value and fascination of history. I left Mr. Vlasits’ class not only with six Advanced Placement college credits, but with a bit of his love for the subject. I found a teacher with the same passionate energy at the University of Maryland when I took French style and grammar with Dr. Lauretta Clough. I found a teacher who used creative interactive activities – like reworking fairy tales to see their sentence structures and plot progression – to motivate students. I had never planned on majoring in French, but Dr. Clough urged me to continue my studies. She convinced me that I could tackle three majors successfully and she is the only reason I remain fairly fluent in French today. Anytime I feel academically overwhelmed, I remember the hard work each teacher put in to motivate and inspire me.

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Nikhil JoshiNikhil Joshi: During high school I had the unique privilege of learning under Mr. John Brick for three years, in the courses of Biology Honors, Advanced Placement Biology, and Research in Molecular Biology. Mr. Brick’s classes were highly engaging but also quite rigorous, a distinction I never truly appreciated until I began taking courses in college. Today, I recognize that my aptitude in the sciences is largely due to the solid foundation set by Mr. Brick. As an undergraduate, no professor has been more influential as a mentor than Dr. Katerina “Kaci” Thompson. As the leader of the freshman Catalyst Seminar, she encouraged me to make the transition from student to scientist, and to venture into the world of research. Later, she urged me to reach higher and find an on-campus position with departmental honors. Additionally, Dr. Thompson has been the mentor of my Gemstone team, T.R.I.G.G.E.R., since the summer of 2005. Her guidance has allowed our team to prosper as we move rapidly towards our goals.

 

Lauren KirkwoodLauren Kirkwood: Ms. Amy Gibson was my Advanced Placement Literature and Composition teacher, and I have admired her ever the first day of that class. She made literature come alive for us – we were a part of the stories when we studied them. She also put great thought into assignments for the class, giving us opportunities to study literature not only through text, but through various art forms. I will never forget her creativity in teaching and her care in encouraging students personally and publicly. Professor Lindley Vann teaches his history classes through personal experiences, which raises students’ level of interest in a field that can seem distant --ancient architecture. He makes us aware that architectural history is about understanding all of the contributing natural, social, and political factors that influence the development of cities and buildings, ultimately understanding where today’s cities and buildings come from. These two mentors have impressed upon me the importance of passion in doing whatever you choose. They have also shown me the personal rewards of investing in others’ learning. Stasia LevinStasia Levin: Mr. Tim Dyke’s English courses help his students to look beyond the conventional and to spur discussions that delve into hidden parts of our lives. He structures the classroom as a respectful and considerate space, which allows us command of our own learning. He loves working with the developing wits of teenagers, and gives them every opportunity to stretch themselves without fear. He showed me that critical thinking is life's single most important skill. Preparing to be a teacher involves learning to manage and run an efficient and nurturing classroom and to meet the varied needs of students. Dr. Lisa Boté does all of this and infuses her effervescent personality into her instructional approach. Her approaches to teaching affirmed for me why my heart is in education: to bring positive energy to the classroom that will help my students become confident individuals. I was nervous about handling an entire class of students and their educational and developmental demands, but Dr. Boté quelled this fear by introducing diverse instructional styles. Her guidance has given me the confidence and the experience I will need to excel as a teacher.

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Mindy LevineMindy Levine: During my educational career, two teachers stand out in my mind as going above and beyond the call of duty. Ms. Sue Thorpe, my Child Development teacher and internship coordinator, was extremely supportive and provided excellent instruction as I developed my teaching skills. Her passion and dedication to young children was a constant motivator for me to become a teacher! Dr. James Greenberg, a University of Maryland professor, is another outstanding teacher. Throughout his winter term course, International and Multicultural Issues in Education, he opened my eyes to various perspectives and models of education systems around the world. Additionally, he reached out to me with his warm and caring disposition, encouraging me to further my studies in international education, and helping me to further appreciate the impact that one person can have on a child in the classroom. Both of these teachers demonstrated the tremendous impact that teachers can have and I hope one day to become a teacher who does the same.

 

Robyn LittmanRobyn Littman: During the course of my education, I have been fortunate to form relationships with mentors whose influences have motivated me to succeed. Ms. Mindy Sauter, my high school yearbook advisor from sophomore through senior year, communicated her belief in my abilities to me from the very start. She inspired me to become the staff copy editor, where I was afforded the opportunity for personal growth in a leadership position. Ms. Sauter also helped me improve my own writing; thanks to her, my independent clauses no longer suffer from being improperly connected. Dr. James Lesher, one of my philosophy professors, demonstrates a similar level of commitment. He routinely invites all of his students to speak with him about their plans for the future, expressing a willingness to help them reach their academic or professional goals. Dr. Lesher’s classes prompted me to explore an independent study in philosophy, even though I am not majoring in the field. Thank you to both Ms. Sauter and Dr. Lesher for educating, mentoring, and inspiring me. Alexandra LockwoodAlexandra Lockwood: Mr. James Schafer was my high school Advanced Placement Physics teacher. He taught well and emphasized the importance of doing problems, which I have learned is the best way to understand the concepts in physics. He was patient and always asked questions of us so that we could come up with the answers ourselves. I had Mr. Schafer for a full year and he gave me confidence in my academic abilities and an appreciation for physics. Another wonderful mentor who has helped me realize my intellectual potential has been Dr. M. Coleman Miller. I have had Dr. Miller as a professor and have had the opportunity to do research with him. His enthusiasm for the subjects he taught was apparent in many forms: from the inflection in his voice, to his inspiring demonstrations, to the amusing astronomical t-shirts he wore to class. Every week he would open the floor to questions about anything in the universe, an entertaining yet informative part of the class. He wanted us to want to learn. The next year I worked with him on a research project and learned more about galaxies, and about my own capability as a scientist, than I ever had before.

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Lauren meleyLauren Meley: Mr. Kenny Goldsborough, band director at Perry Hall High School, was a great mentor to me during and after my high school years. Eventually becoming a color guard captain, Mr. Goldsborough not only taught me how to march, but how to lead. Mr. Goldsborough also fully trusted me with many color guard responsibilities and possessed a teaching style that was amicable yet demanding. His passion for music and desire for perfection inspired the marching band to a higher level of excellence. Ms. Mary Harms, Marketing lecturer and American Marketing Association (AMA) advisor, has become an invaluable part of my University of Maryland experience. Ms. Harms has helped to develop my leadership skills so that I can serve as the AMA Vice President this semester. As a student, she always pushes me towards perfection. Her challenging teaching style keeps students active and interested. Personally, Mary Harms has not only become a mentor, but a role model for what a strong, intelligent, and successful educator should be.

 

Diana NewsomDiana Newsom: I am fortunate to have two mentors who shine because they show genuine enthusiasm for the subjects they teach. Mr. John Webster of First Colonial High School personifies this spirit daily. In his Advanced Placement Literature and Composition class, Mr. Webster read poetry and prose with such tangible richness that we were eager to do the same. He so cared for me in all my endeavors that his motto --"remember who loves you"-- was self-evident. Many of his students were touched by Mr. Webster's admirable demeanor and amazing life. As a teacher, Dr. Debra Boehmler shares this dedication. Her vibrant teaching style echoes in her goal to instill in students an enthusiasm for Chemistry. During my first semester at the University of Maryland, Dr. Boehmler's General Chemistry course soon became my favorite class and played a large part in my decision to pursue a science degree. Over three semesters in Dr. Boehmler's classes, I was inspired by her ability to make interactions between molecules seem so dynamic and real. I will always be grateful to Dr. Boehmler for giving me the opportunity to pass on this excitement as an assistant Teaching Assistant for her Organic Chemistry II class. Laura Schofield: Ms. Julia Dunworth, my senior English teacher, had a great impact on my learning experience even long after I left her classroom. She helped all of her students to improve and gain confidence in their writing while providing a stimulating learning environment. Perhaps more importantly, her passion for her subject led me to seek something about which I was equally passionate. The knowledge I gained from her has helped me to succeed and focus both academically and as a person. Dr. Forrest B. Tyler has been my mentor throughout my junior year of college. His work as a community psychologist has opened my eyes to new possibilities within the domain of psychology. I admire his compassion and his approach to helping people on a large scale. I hope that one day I can use what I have learned from him to make a difference in the way he has.

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Kelly ScovilleKelly Scoville: Ms. Kathy Mahar is the K-12 teacher who inspired me to major in government and politics. Ms. Mahar’s passion for her subject and dedication to her students were obvious in every class. As my Advanced Placement U.S. Government teacher, Ms. Mahar’s enthusiasm and commitment to making her subject interesting and fun inspired me to explore an academic and career path that I had never considered. Now I can’t imagine devoting my life and my energy to any other pursuit. Here at the University of Maryland, Professor Clopper Almon has shaped me as a student and as an individual. As my Study Abroad teacher, Professor Almon led me and twenty of my fellow students through Italy, where I learned more than ever I could have in a classroom. Studying abroad was one of the most rewarding and eye-opening experiences of my life, and Professor Almon was an integral part of it. I am blessed to have had these two individuals as my mentors and I would not be where I am today without their unwavering guidance and support.

 

Emma SimsonEmma Simson: My older sister insisted that I take Ms.Vicki Adamson’s American Studies class my senior year. While Ms. Adamson’s shared love for Jane Austen would have been reason enough, it was her sincere interest in her students and in learning that was truly inspiring. She broke down the typical “track” system and brought together Honors and non-Honors students from various backgrounds, creating an environment of rich discussion and critical thinking. She encouraged us to use literature to explore how the world works and how it affects others, reinforcing my desire to make a positive difference in my community.

Dr. Bonnie Braun continued to cultivate this desire when she became my mentor in my senior year of high school. Over my years at the University of Maryland Bonnie has given me endless opportunities to grow intellectually and personally. From working with her, I have seen how social welfare policies impact people’s daily lives and discovered my own passion for helping others. Her dedication to her work and her never-ending optimism continues to inspire me.

Vanessa SitlerVanessa Sitler: My most influential teachers are those who developed me academically and personally. My K-12 mentor, Mrs. Brenda DeWire, was my high school Small Business Management teacher and also my Future Business Leaders of America, FBLA, advisor. In her class I learned entrepreneurial skills first-hand, as she worked with me to create a business plan. Mrs. DeWire noticed my love for business in the classroom and motivated me to consider business as a career. She convinced me to get involved in FBLA and to run for a regional leadership position. At the University of Maryland I was fortunate to have Dr. Roxanne Lefkoff as my professor for marketing. Through in-class group projects and case studies using real world examples, Dr. Lefkoff taught me how marketing applies to everyday life. Initially I was not excited about the marketing class, but Dr. Lefkoff’s teaching and passion made me truly appreciate marketing, and helped me to apply its concepts to my daily activities.

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Jennifer thompsonJennifer Thompson: My high school math teacher, Mr. John Staley, has been extremely influential in my academic career. I initially took Pre-Calculus with him and enjoyed his teaching style so much that I took Advanced Placement Statistics with him the next semester. Mr. Staley always went out of his way to help students. When I was a senior and had taken all the math classes that our high school offered, he gave up his own time to set up an independent study for me in Linear Algebra. I owe much of my success both in high school and college to Mr. Staley. Without him I might not have realized my potential or chosen to study engineering in college. Here at University of Maryland, Dr. Greg Jackson has been one of the best professors I have had. He filled his Thermodynamics class with enthusiasm and was always willing to help students. Dr. Jackson encouraged us not only to understand the material conceptually, but helped us to see its real-life applications. Through weekly studio problems and a semester project, Dr. Jackson helped students to see engineering as more than just abstract concepts.
Elissa WashutaElissa Washuta: Much of my success in creative writing has been due to the mentoring of gifted, dedicated educators who have provided guidance that helped me pursue writing as an extracurricular interest. Without my mentors’ assistance during the past eight years, I would have lacked direction in refining my writing skills. I began writing poetry in eighth grade. My English teacher, Ms. Debbie Lockwood, encouraged me to hand in poems for our "free write" assignments and provided serious yet gentle critiques. Her willingness to take my work seriously encouraged me to make it the best that it could be, and I began to feel that producing poems was achievable and worth my time. I am at work on a novel for my senior honors thesis under the direction of Professor Maud Casey. Her expertise has proven invaluable during this early stage of composition and will become even more crucial as I undertake the enormous task of writing and revising the remaining portion. Tara WilliamsonTara Williamson: (Dr. Laure Brooks *** ’05-’06) Ms. Sheila Postlethwaite, my Advanced Placement Literature teacher from Archbishop Spalding High School, taught me that the ability to write well is one of the most important skills a person can possess. Ms. Postlethwaite demonstrated that, for her, teaching was not a job but a lifestyle. She would captivate our attention with thought provoking discussions on various literary works, and assignments that challenged us to look past the mundane. Not a day goes by that I do not utilize these writing skills, and I am certain that her exemplary teaching style is directly related to my academic success in college. Dr. Laure Brooks, who taught me Criminology and Criminal Justice Research Methods here at the University of Maryland, is another exemplary professor. She motivates her students to achieve by accepting nothing less from them than their personal best. Dr. Brooks is consistently prepared, enthusiastic, and fair-minded, both in and outside the classroom. Above all, Dr. Brooks has taught me the importance of setting a good example and of putting quality into everything I do.

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Travis YoungTravis Young ( ****Dr. Perinkulam Krishnaprasad ’05-’06) I was fortunate enough to have Mr. Tom Sankey for three consecutive years of high school math. He was, without a doubt, the most animated and idiosyncratic teacher I came into contact with during my high school years. More importantly, his passion rubbed off on students who would rather be doing anything but math. His extremely high expectations pushed me to advance, while the wonderful classroom atmosphere he created made me enjoy doing so. I’ll never forget the time he managed to continue the lesson while we were waiting outside after a fire drill. Dr. Perinkulam Krishnaprasad was my mentor in the M.E.R.I.T. research program. Helpful and willing to listen, he also gave me enough independence to gain valuable laboratory experience. During several meetings, we spoke of future plans and career directions. He was invaluable as an advisor for classes as well. I have taken an additional semester under his guidance and hope to assist him in future projects.

   

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For more information about the Merrill Presidential Scholars Program contact:
Lisa Kiely, Assistant Dean, Office of Undergraduate Studies
2130 Mitchell Bldg. University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
Phone: (301)405-0966 Fax:(301)314-9896 Email: lkiely@umd.edu

Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars Program
Office of Undergraduate Studies