The MERIT Health Leadership Academy is a comprehensive academic and career mentorship program supporting high school students from underrepresented backgrounds who aspire to have careers in health.
As an Out-of-School Time program, MERIT provides Saturday College Prep Classes, Professional Internships, College Admissions Guidance, and Longitudinal Mentorship, empowering them with additional opportunities and resources.
MERIT Scholars attend Saturday classes every week during the school year for 3 years. These courses are led by talented educators and esteemed medical professionals from Baltimore.
Introduction to Health Disparities
SAT Math & Verbal Preparation
Health Careers Exploration
Early College Applications
College Application Support
Transition to College
Financial Aid Literacy
School Year Attendance: 92%
Through meeting each Saturday at MERIT, I was able to build strong relationships with my teachers. It enabled me to use my enthusiasm and grit to figure out difficult problems, whether in math or in life.
- Micaela, Class of 2020
Sophomore scholars complete a week-long trip from Baltimore down to Atlanta, visiting 10 or more colleges and universities. Throughout the year, we also visit many local colleges and universities.
Through these tours, scholars gain exposure to a wide variety of college settings, including private institutions, large public universities, smaller liberal arts colleges, and historically black colleges. Through group discussions and journaling, students determine the factors most important to them, including student and faculty diversity, class sizes, geographical location, and student organizations and cultural groups.
MERIT scholars and their families receive individualized support throughout the college admissions process.
Juniors begin to develop their college application lists through individual counseling meetings, online research, and a multi-state spring break college tour.
Senior scholars are guided through the college application process, learn tangible skills for college success, and explore issues relevant to success as first-generation college students.
MERIT’s summer internships provide life-changing career exposure, allowing scholars to observe medical procedures, interact with providers and patients, and experience a variety of health settings.
Rising seniors have the ability to choose between a Community Health Internship and external internships in a laboratory. In the Community Health Internship, our scholars serve Baltimore through community-based organizations and public health initiatives, learning from community leaders to become change agents advancing equity. In the external internships, scholars conduct wet-lab research based on their interests under the mentorship of a lab professional.
Rising juniors complete a Clinical Internship, shadowing 20 different health care providers in various specialties, including emergency medicine, pediatrics, primary care, surgery, OB/GYN, pharmacy, nursing, social work, and more. Throughout the internship, scholars complete intensive homework centered around a number of medical topics such as certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and glaucoma.
Prior to joining MERIT, rising sophomores have the opportunity to participate in our Bioengineering and Math Internship. At the Baltimore Underground Science Space (BUGSS), sophomores conduct laboratory experiments and receive intensive algebra support, which they will build upon as they get into SAT preparation.
“The summer internship changed my daughter’s life. Before, she was interested in health care, but now she’s on fire. She has a clear picture of how to help Baltimore as a doctor and a plan of how to do it.”
- Towanda, Parent of Scholar
MERIT strives to build a support network around scholars from the time they join the family to college and beyond.
In their sophomore year, scholars receive a staff advisor who will walk with them along their journeys, providing guidance with identifying interests and growth-areas, finding professional mentors, and fostering a sense of ownership.
Throughout their internships, scholars receive mentorship from the various health professionals that they get to work with. Providing an in-depth look into potential fields of interest, mentors inspire our scholars to become socially conscious health care leaders in Baltimore and show them what it takes to achieve this goal.
While MERIT's core academic program supports 10th-12th graders, we work hard to ensure that the MERIT family continues throughout the scholars lives. By the time they graduate high school, scholars will have built a strong relationship with our College Success Manager, who will provide comprehensive support as they work towards their long-term goals, helping with the adjustment to college and the search for professional opportunities.
“My experience over the summer with my research mentor was so enriching and rewarding. Dr. Janielle Maynard was an amazing mentor and friend to me.
She was very patient, understanding, and always willing to help me with anything, even personal issues. We still keep in contact and I hope to continue our relationship well into the future!”
- Mya, Class of 2020
MERIT scholars thrive when their household and MERIT families come together as one. We recognize the importance of family in supporting our scholars' mental and physical health throughout our high school program and beyond, and have made intentional efforts to build community with our scholars' families and supporters.
Through MERIT's Family Leadership Council, our families come together to collaborate, advocate, and, ultimately, build a community that supports the success of all MERIT Scholars. Every quarter, we hold family engagement workshops where families connect with one another, share successes and challenges they have had, learn what is going on with MERIT, and create ways for how to best support their scholars.
Families of MERIT Scholars are our biggest supporters, and we work to ensure their voices and perspectives are always valued.