Jon Christian Merkel Scholarship Fund

2016 scholarship winner

Kira Aldrich

Kira graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience with a cellular/molecular specialization. After taking a year to travel and teach math to at-risk youth in Africa, she is excited to continue her academic career at the University of Maryland. After graduation, she hopes to pursue an industry fellowship with a focus on psychopharmacology within the medical communications field. 

Toni-Lee Ellis, recipient of the Jon Christian Merkel Scholarship

Toni-Lee Ellis

Toni-Lee graduated with honors from the University of Bridgeport, where she obtained her BS in psychology with a minor in human services. First in her family to graduate from college, she chose social work as her career path because she wants to make a difference in the lives of people — protecting the most vulnerable and least fortunate from maltreatment and helping to improve their overall outlook for the future. Working with the adolescent population has been a passion of hers for a long time. Toni-Lee's long-term goals include working with at-risk adolescents struggling with mental illness, addiction, or emotional instability. As a social worker, she plans to provide family or individual therapy while ensuring that adolescents have access to the services that will be most beneficial to them.

Endowed scholarship winner

Owen Lee-Park

Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Owen Lee-Park and his family immigrated to the United States and settled in Maryland in 2005. Lee-Park studied at Cornell University, majoring in human biology, health and society, and hopes to continue his interests in biology and public service at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. One day he would like to give back to the community by advocating for wider access to quality health care, particularly for those affected by incarceration or poverty.