Our Challenge

Fewer than 3% of African-American 17-year-olds were proficient in science and math.
     - The National Assessment of Education Progress


African-Americans, American Indians, and Hispanics make up approximately 25% of the US population but only 6% of practicing physicians.
     –The Association of American Medical Colleges


Baltimore City still fares worse than the rest of the state of Maryland on almost every major health indicator, including heart disease, infant mortality, and asthma.”
     -Baltimore City Health Department, 2010

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What We Do

MERIT aims to create a pipeline of future leaders committed to eliminating health care disparities.  We identify high-performing high school sophomores in Baltimore City and provide a holistic support system through their senior year. 

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MERIT Scholars and Mentors

MERIT strives to foster a sense of community among Scholars, mentors, teachers, volunteers, and families.  Key milestones along the Scholar trajectory allow the entire community to reflect on our Scholars’ progress and the work that lies ahead.

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How Can I Help?

Volunteer opportunities range from one-time commitments at an event to longitudinal involvement At MERIT, you can mentor, tutor, plan events, help with communications or fundraising, recruit new scholars, and much more.

 

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MERIT is 100% volunteer-run, so every dollar directly impacts our Scholars. We encourage contributions of any amount.

 

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This week, the MERIT Sophomore Scholars were brainstorming ideas for our USAEF booth. Some of the ideas they thought of were having a social determinant simulation where they would have colored papers that coded for things like patients with disabilities, patients with no health insurance, and patients that come from low income community. With this simulation, the scholars would have participants pick a color and with that the scholars would discuss the health disparities regarding the chosen color.

Another idea the scholars discussed was having a myth vs truth game about diabetes. When asked about how she felt about the USAEF booth ideas, a scholar mentioned that she was, "learning a lot through this project because for example, before I thought diabetes was something you get from eating too many sweets but now I know that there are two different types of diabetes and many different ways, other than eating too many sweets, to get diabetes." Another scholar exclaimed, "I'm very excited to be a part of this science and engineering fair because I've been to conventions and other science engineering fairs but I'v never presented in one before. It will be a new experience and I'm looking forward to it!" MERIT applauds this kind of energy and excitement and we are very happy to see scholars be passionate about the projects they are working on. We look forward to seeingthis kind of energy consistently throughout the MERIT program. 

This week, we also welcomed Dr. Gauda to the MERIT to our Health Equity Leaders Speaker series. A scholar said that the speaker series has helped him, "see the different journeys that our speakers have taken to get to where they are. It is inspiring and encouraging to see that they have gotten to where they are through different paths. It is just like what our first speaker said (Dr. McQuay) about how getting to medical school is not a straight path!" It is exciting to see that our scholars have been enjoying our new speaker series and quote previous speakers. We hope to continuously see this engagement with our new speaker series!


Dr. Gauda began her talk with a couple interesting statistics about health disparities. She talked about how populations that are under represented have a higher incidence of disease than our majority race. For example, an African American women that is educated and has a high paying job has an equal chance of having a premature baby as a caucasian women that is uneducated and with a low paying job. Dr. Gauda stated that this showed that resources are not the only factor that is contributing to this statistic and said that "everything we do has to be based on a few important principles: we wat to make a difference in these statistics, we want to be successful, be in a position of influence, and be a role model for others locally and globally." She closed her talk with her "formula to be successful in life and career: Passion, Perseverance, and Partnership- Passion, because you enjoy doing things you are passionate about and what makes you happy makes you successful, Perseverance, because it is easy too show up and live up to whatever you are passionate about, and Partnership, because no one does it alone." We hope that the MERIT scholars take Dr. Gauda's wise words to heart and use them as a guidance in continuing their path in having a successful future!  

 

 

Today was the Kick Off event for MERIT and the Armstrong Educational Building was with the Junior MERIT scholars, the newly selected Sophomore scholars, and the mentors.       

The newly selected scholars and mentors started off the day with a keynote address on health disparities, by Dr. Cheri Wilson from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. After, the scholars, the parents of the scholars, and mentors were put into different rooms for breakout sessions. Something that is important to note is that MERIT is not only relying on the scholars and mentor involvement, but also the parent involvement with the program. Parents work as a bridge between the scholar and the mentor and it is important for parents to build a stronger understanding of the program and create a strong community of parent support for the scholars. 


After the breakout session, the scholars were finally able to meet the mentors. "I've been looking forward to this all week!" one scholar excitedly commented. One of the challenges the mentors were concerned about was working through differences and conflicting areas of interest with their scholar. Thus, the mentors and their scholars created Venn diagrams illustrating their similarities and differences. "I know that growing up in a small town, I may have different ideologies and ways of interacting with just people in general than my scholar. But that is something that I am actually excited about. I think it'll be interesting for not only for my scholar but also for myself to interact with someone that may have grown up from a different background: we can learn from each other," one mentor explained. The mentors and scholars departed after arranging their next meeting for them to be looking forward to. 

        Meanwhile, the Juniors continued their SAT preparation as their SAT exam dates are coming up. Today, they covered the important topic of "traps" on the SAT where the test writers purposely put a false answer choice that they "want" the test takers to select. Identifying these "traps" will allow our Juniors efficiently eliminate the incorrect answer choices and increase their chances of picking the correct answer. What a busy and very exciting day for MERIT! 

 

 

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Front Page Baltimore Sun

Baltimore Sun feature on MERIT Scholars participating in research at Johns Hopkins: 

Tyren Day