This week at MERIT, we welcomed back the potential new cohort of scholars for another round of interviews and interactive discussions. Mini-interviews were conducted by JHUSOM students and the MERIT leadership team. Mr. Gadwal led a particularly insightful interview focusing on MERIT’s mission to eliminating health disparities by first observing the socioeconomic makeup of neighborhoods in Baltimore. Students were asked to research statistics on factors like juvenile crime rate, household income, and life expectancy before coming to the interview. Mr. Gadwal opened up a discussion about the varying statistics within the neighborhoods and many scholars were surprised about some of the statistics in their own neighborhoods. Some like Jamie were surprised at how low the life expectancy was in Sandtown, while Talika was shocked at how high the life expectancy was in Cold Springs. Scholars discussed how money can influence and in some cases determine one’s health outcome. Many cited personal examples where less expensive clinics couldn’t provide all the services and resources that most expensive hospitals could. Jamie raised an especially perceptive point, “It’s amazing how it only takes one street to divide so many of these factors.”
To wrap up the day, perspective scholars participated in a round of Philosophical Chairs starting off with a difficult topic regarding whether or not they would want to know if they had the gene for Huntington’s Disease. A majority of scholars migrated to the “yes” side of the room choosing to know sooner rather than later, yet an open debate between the “yes” and “no” side ignited a flurry of discussion. Many cited family reasons for wanting to know soon, which would allow them to prepare for the future care including the various financial costs and emotional burdens the disease would invariably come with. Yet, others followed a more carefree spirit, wanting to live their lives to the fullest without having to worry about disease. What’s more, some didn’t see the point in worrying about a disease with no cure. Other issues like their children’s risk for Huntington’s and health insurance also swayed many scholars from yes to no or vice-versa.
Meanwhile, junior scholars felt bittersweet seeing the new cohort of scholars partake in the Medical Leadership Course. After many scholars expressed interest in helping choose the new group, Mr. Gadwal introduced an opportunity for juniors to get involved, just as long as they completed their homework for the week! Juniors will get a chance to judge the incoming class on their poster presentations that they have been working on for the past few weeks.
Juniors also continued with SAT prep with Jimmy in the morning and Julie who taught critical reading. Julie emphasized tone questions, and highlighted certain key words like somber, earnest, and condescending, to look out for in reading through passages. Sharron was especially engaged in the lesson and even asked Ms. Julie to send the PowerPoint of the main critical reading points by email! We love Sharron’s enthusiasm and encourage other scholars to follow!