Three Engineering Students Named Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars

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The Clark School’s Merrill Scholars for 2020–21: James Baldwin, Samantha Kraus, and Alana Tillery

The Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars program recognizes the University of Maryland’s top graduating seniors and their accomplishments, prestigious internships, and impressive GPAs. It also honors faculty and K-12 teachers who helped mentor these exceptional students.

Each of this year’s 19 Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars—including three Clark School students—credit grade school and high school teachers and UMD faculty who helped guide, inspire, coach, tutor, and challenge them in both big and small ways.

“Our students’ accomplishments do not take place in solitude,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines. “This program is also a chance to applaud the individuals who helped nurture their success and to recognize the power of mentorship. We are grateful for the Merrill family’s vision and support of outstanding teachers and the lifelong gift they give to their students.”

The late Philip Merrill, friend of the university and long-time Washington-area publisher, created the Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars Program in 2004 to build a community of scholars, faculty members, and K-12 teachers who recognize and celebrate the importance of teaching and mentoring the next generation. The program provides $1,000 scholarships, which are awarded in the K-12 teacher’s name to another student from that school district who will attend UMD in Fall 2021.

William A. Cohen, associate provost and dean for undergraduate studies, says that every year there are examples of the ripple effects of superior teaching. “The kind, encouraging words, the extra hours of tutoring, and the timely advice are often remembered for years,” he said. “These students’ achievements are a testament to the power of teachers and mentors in an academic journey. Success is a team effort.”

“These students’ achievements are a testament to the power of teachers and mentors in an academic journey. Success is a team effort.”

– William A. Cohen, Associate Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Studies

The customary reception could not be held this year because of COVID-19 social distancing requirements, but the narratives written by scholars about their teachers are on the UMD Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars website at

The Clark School’s Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars for 2020–21 are:

James Baldwin, Fire Protection Engineering
Teacher Mentor: Lee Hirsch, Thomas S. Wootton High School, Rockville, MD
Faculty Mentor: Peter Sunderland, Fire Protection Engineering

Samantha Kraus, Bioengineering
Teacher Mentor: Matthew Groden, formerly of Pennsbury High School, Fairless Hills, PA
Faculty Mentor: Kimberly Stroka, Bioengineering

Alana Tillery, Bioengineering
Teacher Mentor: William Ford, King's Fork High School, Suffolk, VA
Faculty Mentor: Angela Jones, Bioengineering

Published November 12, 2020