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Merrill Presidential Scholars Program
Office of Undergraduate Studies

Merrill Presidential Scholars Program

The 2008-2009 Merrill Presidential Scholars
For a print version of scholars' statement and pictures.
View image slideshow from the 2008 Merrill Presidential Scholars Luncheon

Jessica Moorefield
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Allison Wilson
School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation


Allison Chang
College of Arts and Humanities

Gwen Emmons
College of Arts and Humanities

Matthew Phillips
College of Arts and Humanities

Lida Zlatic
College of Arts and Humanities

Sarah Battista
Robert H. Smith School of Business


Joel Liebman
Robert H. Smith School of Business

Marla Weintraub
Robert H. Smith School of Business

Alexander Campbell
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Alexandra Prokopets
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences


Jodi Rokuson
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Sarah Semmel
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Giovanni Greaves
College of Chemical and Life Sciences

Brittany Taylor
College of Chemical and Life Sciences

Greg Ihrie
College of Computer, Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Ashley King
College of Computer, Mathematical and Physical Sciences


Sarah Mansour
College of Education

Jessica Newell
College of Education

Anthony Awojoodu
A. James Clark School of Engineering

Alyson Blair
A. James Clark School of Engineering

Teresa Lewi
Philip Merrill School of Journalism

Karen Shih
Philip Merrill School of Journalism

J. Corey Williams
School of Public Health

Kristen Mui
Undergraduate Studies

Past Merrill Presidential Scholars

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.

Jessica MoorefieldJessica Moorefield
Mr. Bob Cantor, my high school AP psychology teacher, provided me with a solid understanding of psychology and helped me to determine my learning style. He encouraged students to embrace diversity and to view the world from the perspectives of others. He helped us to reflect on who we were and who we could become. Mr. Cantor urged me to think outside the box. He helped me to develop critical thinking skills and to increase my confidence outside of my comfort zone. At Maryland, Dr. Brian Bequette's enthusiasm for nutrition stimulated my interest in the field. His nutrition course and lab have influenced my college education to a great extent. As a research assistant, I gained practical livestock and lab bench experience. By allowing me to participate in research and data analysis, providing me with solid academic advice, and helping me to develop a strong work ethic, Dr. Bequette has empowered me to navigate my college experience and to build a foundation for success.


WilsonAllison Wilson
Great teachers teach students how to live and how to become the people they want to be. Dr. Thomas Smith of the technology department at Randolph High School and Professor Karl Du Puy of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation are great teachers. Dr. Smith inspired and encouraged me as I decided to study architecture. He illustrated that a broad range of experiences complement a primary career path and that one never stops being a student. At Maryland, Professor Du Puy has helped me to understand what studying architecture means in the larger trajectory of my life. A dynamic figure, Professor Du Puy found his passion in life and pursued it as a career. He pushes me farther in my design work than I thought I could go and makes my projects meaningful and instructive. The most important lessons that he teaches may be about how to approach my subject. Some day I hope to become as unforgettable to young people as these teachers have been to me.

Allison ChangAllison Chang
The 5th grade is a critical period for many students; Mrs. Ross filled that year with learning and wonderful memories. Her use of creative methods, like making us use vocabulary words in a sentence as "passwords" to get into class, made learning both fun and effective. Her warm, funny and giving nature made her an approachable teacher, a characteristic that is crucial when working with children with diverse personalities. Nominating her is a small thank you for her dedication to giving students a challenging and productive education. At the University of Maryland, I have found Dr. Gabriele Strauch to be an amazing faculty advisor and instructor. She has helped me to improve my German composition and conversation skills and has taught me concepts I did not realize existed. Dr Strauch strives to give me academic opportunities; she nominates me for programs, awards, and scholarships, and writes letters of recommendation for me. I am extremely fortunate to have had Mrs. Ross and Dr. Strauch as mentors in my life.

Gwen EmmonsGwen Emmons
A conservative Catholic private school is not the first place one would think of as forming the roots of one's feminism. Yet Meg Kane-Smith's theology classes were where I began to think, write, and act as an independent and empowered woman. Ms. Kane-Smith spoke her mind, which showed me that it was okay to disagree. She never let me get away with doing anything but my best, but was always available to empower and support me. At the University of Maryland, Dr. Michelle Rowley has pushed me to expand my thinking through her teachings in the classroom and her tireless work with me on composing my thesis. She has shown me how to be an independent and passionate person who challenges and questions the world around her. The reason I am where I am today is that both Ms. Kane-Smith and Dr. Rowley have taken a personal interest in my growth as a student and as a person. I am grateful for the mentorship of both of these women who have given me what I consider to be the most valuable gift of my education – my feminism.


Matthew PhillipsMatthew Phillips
After a difficult relocation from Western New York to Eastern Maryland, I was fortunate to be placed in Mrs. Mary Lou Coffin's regular-level freshman English class. She recognized my talent and passion, and she pushed me to share them with my fellow students. Without her I would never have had the desire to move into the advanced-level English class my sophomore year. Without her I would have lost the childhood love of literature that had helped sustain me for so long. At Maryland, Dr. Merrill Feitell has done for creative writing what Mrs. Coffin did for English literature. In her Intermediate Fiction Workshop, Dr. Feitell forced her students to reevaluate the genre of the short story and to develop a more sincere focus on the lives and internal struggles of the characters they created. She has been committed to the development of my goals for the future as well as my writing skills. As my departmental honors thesis advisor, Dr. Feitell mentors me as I produce a work of fiction and gain a stronger sense of why and to what end one writes.


Lida ZlaticLida Zlatic
"If I were a fish I would have fins." Ms. Lodeesen's introduction to Latin conditional sentences, like so many of her lessons, would stick with me for years. Her enthusiasm for her subject, willingness to have fun and to be wacky in class, and her endless font of ideas for creative projects all contributed to her many years of success in the eyes of her students. I was in her Latin class for three of my four years of high school. Her concern for the success of her students motivated me to continue studying the Classics in college and beyond. I was fortunate to find another inspirational teacher at the University of Maryland. I studied Ancient Art History with Professor Marjorie Venit. She has pushed me to succeed in her classes and in every endeavor, academic or personal, that we have discussed. Her lectures are engaging and thought provoking, the assignments challenging but rewarding, and her advice has always been invaluable.

Sarah BattistaSarah Battista
Mrs. Kaiser makes learning exciting and brings out the best in each of her students. I met her my freshman year of high school when I was taking Algebra I for the second time. She gave me the confidence to enjoy math and to excel in an area that had made me uncomfortable previously. As the Student Council faculty advisor, Mrs. Kaiser encouraged me to join the group. I became the Council President two years later. Now I am majoring in finance and accounting, and serve as the president of another student organization, Smith Ambassadors. Without the encouragement I received from Mrs. Kaiser I truly do not think that I would be the student leader that I am today. At Maryland, Dr. Francis Alt challenges his students and relates to them on a personal level. He made our Six Sigma class interesting by implementing activities in the classroom and drawing upon students' opinions and commentaries. Dr. Alt has high expectations for his students, but he supports them every step of the way as they learn and grow throughout the semester.


Joel LiebmanJoel Liebman
Mr. Lariviere, my Algebra II teacher and Sophomore Class Council advisor, became a driving force behind my motivation to enjoy learning and to pursue opportunities to enrich my academic experience and my character. He challenged me to make difficult decisions, to uphold a high level of professionalism, and to convey unparalleled passion and energy. Through his guidance I learned to position myself as an effective leader. I still look to Mr. Lariviere for advice and guidance on professional and personal matters. Dr. Gerald Suarez, executive director of the QUEST Honors Fellows Program at Maryland, has been inspirational. He has provided me with the tools and opportunities to question traditional thought and has empowered me to develop and realize innovative ideas. Dr. Suarez has taught me to set my goals high and to strive for excellence in every situation. My mentors' contributions cannot be overstated, and I am truly thankful for the influence they have had on my growth as a student, as a leader, and as an individual.

Maria WientraubMarla Weintraub
Throughout my educational experience, I have learned valuable lessons from all of my teachers. Two teachers stand out especially. Ms. Jeannette Faber, my AP English teacher during my senior year in high school, became my mentor and taught me valuable lessons that apply to my education and to my life. Ms. Faber demonstrates compassion and cares deeply for her students. A kind, interesting, and down-to-earth person, she keeps in touch with her former students. At the University of Maryland, I was fortunate to study Advanced Financial Management with Dr. Elinda Kiss. Dr. Kiss works hard to ensure that her students are comfortable with the material that she teaches. She goes above and beyond expectations to make herself available for out-of-class consultations. She encourages her students to use her as a resource. Dr. Kiss makes classes interesting; I have thoroughly enjoyed studying with her and getting to know her.

Alexander CampbellAlexander Campbell
I have been blessed to study with teachers who demonstrate deep knowledge of their subjects and deep dedication to their students. Mr. Shawn Dougherty, my 11th grade Honors Government and AP U.S. History teacher, viewed history as tragic and comic, heartbreaking and hilarious. He sprinkled his wide-reaching, sometimes sarcastic, but always informative lectures with humor. Mr. Dougherty personified the ability to "disagree without being disagreeable." I will remember his respect for the American political process, his honesty and candor toward students, and his love for and grasp of the heights and foibles of our nation's democratic experience. At Maryland, Professor Margaret Pearson's incisive overview of Chinese politics provided a gateway to another culture. She is to Chinese history and politics what Mr. Dougherty is to American history and politics: a teacher able to blend a strong knowledge of the subject with an even stronger desire to spread that knowledge to students. These teachers have my deep respect; I hope that they inspire others as they have me.


Maria WientraubAlexandra Prokopets
Ms. Anne Marie Garth, my 11th and 12th grade AP English teacher, helped me to develop a passion for writing. She used peer group response, inspired by Peter Elbow's Writing without Teachers, to let students voice their opinions, employ artistic freedom, learn from their peers, and build confidence as they revised their writings. Ms. Garth's inspiration and encouragement led me to share my passion for writing by becoming a tutor at the UM Writing Center. At Maryland, Dr. Laure Brooks has enhanced my interest in Criminology and Criminal Justice. In her Research Methods course I learned to conduct research as a criminologist, to seize opportunities to gain experience in the field, and to grow as an individual. She encouraged her students to meet with her, and I took advantage of opportunities to get her advice. Dr. Brooks wants to see every one of her students succeed. This fall, I look forward to being an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant in her Research Methods course. Both Ms. Anne Marie Garth and Dr. Laure Brooks model true mentorship.


Jodi RokusonJodi Rokuson
Throughout elementary school I was told that I was not good enough to be placed in average-level math courses. I was too slow during math assessments and remained in a lower-level class despite my ability eventually to understand and correctly apply mathematical concepts. Progressing through middle school and high school, I became a good math student, yet lacked confidence in my command of the subject. In 12th grade, I excelled in Mr. Michael Cascione's pre-calculus class. He gave me the opportunity to understand the subject matter completely, encouraged me to do my best in the class, and gave me the confidence I needed to succeed in college. At the University of Maryland, Dr. Sandra Gordon-Salant's course, Anatomy, Pathology, and Physiology of the Auditory System, sparked my interest in the field of audiology. She has assisted me toward my goals of attending graduate school and ultimately becoming an audiologist. I am thankful that Dr. Gordon-Salant makes time in her schedule to help her former students realize their goals.

Sarah SemmelSarah Semmel
Education goes beyond what can be learned in the classroom. In the 9th grade, Mr. Rick Jones began teaching me about history. I had always believed history was my weak point; it seemed fairly irrelevant to me. Mr. Jones sparked my interest in history by emphasizing the past's effects on the present. Later that year, I tried out for the tennis team. Mr. Jones let me join the team even though I lacked experience. The tennis team provided me with my fondest high school memories and a chance for Mr. Jones to teach me life lessons concerning the treatment of others that would have been difficult to communicate within the classroom. At the University of Maryland, Dr. Miyuki Yoshikami continued my education outside of the classroom during winter term 2008 in Japan. Her course challenged my comfort zone and gave me new self- and world-concepts. Both Mr. Jones and Dr. Yoshikami have made lasting impressions on my life that go beyond acquiring new knowledge; they have changed the way I live my life—for the better.


Giovanni GreavesGiovanni Greaves
Mr. Kesang "Kippy" Chin, my high school chemistry teacher, motivated me greatly. He was always willing to teach me inside and outside of the classroom. His holistic approach helped me to learn valuable lessons in chemistry and in life. His genuine love for chemistry and science overflowed into my life; I became deeply interested in chemistry and its applications. Mr. Chin's influence led me to major in chemistry at the University of Maryland. In spring 2006, I studied with Dr. Daniel Falvey while doing research in his lab as part of the Rollinson Fellowship Program, which supports a semester of research for freshmen chemistry majors. Dr. Falvey inspired me to increase my understanding of organic chemistry and research. His unwavering support and optimism have helped me grow as a person. I benefit from his positive spirit as I attempt to complete difficult projects. Both Dr. Falvey and Mr. Chin possess the talent to explain concepts in simple yet fascinating ways; their influence has been integral to my motivation and growth as a student.

Brittany TaylorBrittany Taylor
During my academic career, I have had several exceptional teachers. Mrs. Diane McAllister, my AP Psychology teacher and National Honor Society faculty advisor, has influenced my life to the greatest extent. She helped further my love of learning and helped me to develop my leadership skills. Whether lecturing about Erick Erickson or Sigmund Freud, she demonstrated enthusiasm and passion. She challenged me intellectually and truly made learning fun. I will always remember the great encouragement and advice she gave me. While at the University of Maryland, I had the pleasure of studying Cell Biology and Physiology with Dr. Reid Compton. He projects a personable style and makes lecture material exciting. Both his lectures and our discussions during his office hours have deepened my interest in Cell Biology. He shows genuine interest in his students and his door is always open.

Greg IhrieGreg Ihrie
Dr. Alyce Doehner, who taught me math in the 5th and 6th grades, will always stand out in my mind as my most influential teacher because she challenged me to do better work. To put it charitably, my work ethic was sloppy before I met Dr. Doehner. Refusing to accept low-quality work, she gave my work failing grades until I improved it. At the time, I was furious about the "misfortune" of being in her class for two years, but those two years of hard work helped me to improve my work ethic and to acquire the problem solving skills that I would need through the rest of my studies in math. Lawrence Washington is one of the best teachers at the University of Maryland, both inside and outside the classroom. In class he never hesitates to explain the general ideas and flow of difficult mathematical arguments; this makes him incredibly effective at teaching complex concepts. Outside of the classroom, I consult with Dr. Washington about classes and career matters. His approachable style and broad mathematical knowledge make him a true credit to the University.


Ashley KingAshley King
One of the first teachers who inspired me was my 8th grade science teacher, Mr. James Silvestri. He taught the first science class that sparked my enthusiasm. His class included exciting experiments and he encouraged questions on all sorts of science topics. His insights truly fostered my curiosity. Mr. Silvestri helped me to focus my curiosity on science and to develop a passion for astronomy. My research mentor at Maryland, Dr. A'Hearn, has been my most supportive and influential professor. In addition to teaching me about comets and astronomical research, he has helped me to develop critical thinking skills. During my research, Dr. A'Hearn advised me on various options. Even though he may have known the solution to a particular problem, he always let me make my own choices, mistakes, and advances to develop a better understanding of the research. Throughout my internship, Dr. A'Hearn projected such a positive outlook that it motivated me to work harder and to get excited about my work. Dr. A'Hearn has truly inspired me.


Sarah MansourSarah Mansour
Michelle Lewis, my 6th and 7th grade math teacher, has been a positive influence in my life with her bubbly personality and great sense of humor. She always found ways to make math fun and inviting. "Around the World," a popular math game, was one of the tools she used to engage students. Ms. Lewis motivated me to do my best work and encouraged me to become a teacher who empowers her students to reach their full potential. At Maryland, Ms. Maria Salvadore has become another influential person in my life. Her passion for children's literature captivates even those who are not interested in reading. In her class, I learned the positive influences books have over the minds of young readers. She is a wonderful and effective lecturer and an approachable advisor. Experiences shape the way a person becomes an adult. Thanks to Ms. Lewis and Ms. Salvadore, I gained enthusiasm for both math and reading; I hope to carry these interests into my classroom as a future educator.


Jessica NewellJessica Newell
Two exceptional educators have helped direct me on the path towards becoming a teacher. In Ms. Elaine Boothby's 11th and 12th grade AP English classes at South River High School, I experienced her contagious passion for learning and teaching. Through her encouragement, instruction, and feedback, she played a significant role in shaping my perspectives on school, teaching, and life. She made English exciting and prepared me with skills and life lessons. Ms. Robin Bonica, my Introduction to Teaching instructor at Maryland, put my teaching worries to rest with her personable demeanor and meaningful advice. Whether discussing classroom observations or current issues in our school systems, Ms. Bonica was always available to answer questions and provide assistance. She helped me feel at home in the College of Education and see that I could manage the demands of college and teaching. These two instructors encouraged me to pursue my dreams; I hope to teach with the same passion and to convey the same love of learning.

Anthony AwojooduAnthony Awojoodu
Great teachers are passionate about both the subjects and students they teach. Ms. Deena Barlev, my 8th grade English teacher, was one of my most influential teachers. Her love, compassion, and care showed her investment in the success of all of her students. Her mentoring made me believe that I was special and could achieve any goal to which I put my mind and heart. Ms. Barlev helped me to become passionate about learning and to use my creativity in education and in problem solving. Dr. Arthur Johnson, my instructor in Basic Electronic Design and Transport Processes courses, has been one of my most important mentors at Maryland. He enables students to solve problems successfully and to see how engineers must approach theoretical and real-life problems to maintain their credibility, professionalism, and moral standards. Dr. Johnson's creativity and liveliness in the classroom demonstrate his passion for education. His approachability and knowledge make him a great source of advice for engineering and other areas of education.


Alyson BlairAlyson Blair
Ms. Brooke Kuhl-McClelland, my high school dance teacher, taught me as much about life as she did about dance. She taught me that with determination and hard work I can accomplish just about anything. She taught me how important it is to love what you do and that it is fine to have fun as long as you know when to be serious. When I was recruited to play lacrosse in college, Ms. Kuhl-McClelland emphasized the importance of choosing a college based on my feelings about being at the school rather than about the sports team. Dr. James Milke has played an instrumental role in my decision to pursue fire protection engineering. After seeing fire demonstrations and listening to his speech about the causes of September 11th, I was fascinated and knew that I wanted to learn more. Dr. Milke was one of the people who influenced my decision to come to the University of Maryland. He has inspired me to share my love of the fire protection program with prospective students at open houses. As my advisor and professor, he has helped guide my career at the University.

Teresa LewiTeresa Lewi
I am especially grateful to Mrs. Traci Fairbairn and Ms. Penny Bender Fuchs for their invaluable guidance and support. Mrs. Fairbairn, my 5th grade teacher, helped me to gain a better understanding of my abilities. Through her warm, caring nature and supportive words, she encouraged me to break out of my shell. One of my favorite memories of 5th grade was being selected to deliver a speech to my peers about the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) Program. I will always remember how much I learned from Mrs. Fairbairn. As a freshman at the University of Maryland, I took a journalism writing course with Ms. Fuchs. She helped me to develop a strong foundation in reporting; she challenged her students to think critically about the media. An engaging instructor, Ms. Fuchs has a genuine desire to help her students reach their full potential. She continues to mentor me as I pursue a career in journalism. I would not be where I am today without outstanding teachers like Mrs. Fairbairn and Ms. Fuchs.


Karen ShihKaren Shih
In the 10th grade, I decided to become a journalist. I wanted to report on injustices. In the 11th grade, I met Mr. Kevin Keegan who taught me the basics of old-school journalism, which is now fading from newsrooms as technology supersedes tradition. In his classes, I wrote my first stories, learned how to be a reporter, to edit, and to put a newspaper together. Mr. Keegan helped me prepare for the SATs, conduct my college search, and secure my first internship. His humor made high school fun. Mr. Keegan helped me to believe that I was a good reporter. I became used to succeeding. At Maryland, I met Ms. Penny Fuchs, who gave me my first "F." I learned that I was not invincible. I became paranoid about everything in the AP Stylebook. I learned that there was more to becoming a successful journalist than what I knew already. Ms. Fuchs had been in the field; I wanted to do everything she had done. She helped me to secure internships and taught me everything I know about applying for jobs. Her recommendations have opened opportunities I never would have had otherwise.


J. Corey WilliamsJ. Corey Williams
Mr. Brendon Field is one of the most dedicated, supportive, and compassionate teachers I have encountered. He taught 12th grade physics with a contagious enthusiasm that inspired me and my whole class. He provided his students with knowledge, but more important, with understanding. He gave students extra help outside the classroom and he coached the physics team. I could talk to him about issues unrelated to class. Mr. Field's belief in my character and ability built the foundation for my success at Maryland. In the Kinesiology Honors Program, I have the privilege of being advised by Dr. Steve Roth. His enthusiasm for kinesiology and commitment to his students make him a model academic advisor. Dr. Roth makes sure his students are engaged intimately in kinesiology and are well positioned to reach their degree and professional goals. Faculty members like Dr. Roth are the driving force for the growth of the Kinesiology Program. Dr. Roth will be an invaluable contributor to the new School of Public Health at Maryland.

Kristin MuiKristen Mui
Mrs. Dora Simons, my 10th grade English teacher, opened my eyes to new perspectives, times, people, and places. She nurtured my appreciation for literature and its intersections with the world. She advised our high school's chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS), and I served as the chapter secretary. Mrs. Simons pushed me to exemplify NHS principles of scholarship, leadership, service, and character, principles that I uphold in all my endeavors. At Maryland, I found another mentor, Dr. James Cohen, director of the Urban Studies and Planning Program. He has helped me find my place at the University. As my mentor in the Individual Studies Program, he has encouraged me to follow my interests and has believed in my future success. Dr. Cohen challenges me to think about issues from a variety of perspectives; this has expanded my horizons and strengthened my approach to solving problems. I look forward to taking more classes with him. In a challenging world, Dr. Cohen's optimism is a true inspiration.



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