Feature Story

Merrick Mentors

March 31, 2016 – by Cole Hatcher

Merrick Mentor Meghan Finke ’16 shares information about The OWU Connection with visitors to Merrick Hall. Ten mentors are available to help students with questions about the program. (Photo by Nicole Sanczyk '17)

Students on Duty Daily to Help with OWU Connection Opportunities

Think of them as OWU’s “Treasure Hunters.”

The 10 students, also known as Merrick Mentors, are on duty Monday through Friday in Merrick Hall to help their peers tap into The OWU Connection’s wealth of intellectual opportunities.

“I have helped students write Theory-to-Practice Grants, SIP (Student Individualized Project) grants, and find study-away programs that interest them,” says Carly LoVullo ’17, an international studies and black world studies double major from South Euclid, Ohio. “The most frequent questions I get are: How and where should I start writing a grant? How do I create a budget? What opportunities are there to travel to (insert country’s name)?”

The Merrick Mentor peer counselor program kicked off this fall with the opening of the newly refurbished Merrick Hall – now considered as the home of The OWU Connection. Merrick Mentors are on duty from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday when classes are in session.

“My first experience with the OWU connection was as a freshman in UC 160, said LoVullo of the course also known as The OWU Experience. “I learned about all of the opportunities that OWU offers and had my heart set on traveling to Tanzania, a country in east Africa.

“The following year, I was studying abroad in Tanzania, where I attended classes at a national university, held an internship, and lived with a host family for the semester,” she said. “I then wrote a Theory-to-Practice Grant to travel back to Tanzania to volunteer with my internship for a few weeks during the summer, planning and executing a free mass screening for breast and cervical cancer, and a SIP grant to analyze the data collected and talk with the doctors involved. I have also participated in a Travel-Learning Course to southern Africa. Here, I studied the lasting effects of the apartheid and traveled to South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.”

Merrick Mentor Larynn Cutshaw ’17, a triple major in zoology, environmental studies, and politics and government, also has first-hand experience in accessing components of The OWU Connection to help her link classroom learning with hands-on experiences.

“I have been very fortunate to receive two grants from OWU’s Theory-to-Practice Grant (TPG) program,” says Cutshaw, a resident of Marietta, Ohio. “The first grant took me to Australia to complete a self-designed research project in microbiology. This summer, I will return to Australia once again to volunteer with a conservation organization.

“One of the most rewarding experiences I have had since my return from Australia is working as a peer mentor,” Cutshaw continues. “I love talking about my travel experiences just as much as I love hearing about others’ plans. I have been able to talk to students about their grant proposals and review their TPG to help them create a successful application. I am so grateful for these experiences, and I hope that I can help other students take advantage of the amazing opportunities OWU has to offer.”

Merrick Mentor Chloe Dyer ’18, a Spanish major and politics and government minor from Guysville, Ohio, says she is happy to help share information about OWU’s Travel-Learning Courses as well.

“Last year I took a Travel-Learning Course on Irish literature, and then got to spend two weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland,” Dyer says. “I loved the course material, and it was incredible to get to see places we had read about and talk to people who had lived through the events we covered in class. The travel-learning portion of the course really brought all of my classroom learning to life, and as a peer mentor I enjoy working with other students so that they can take advantage of these opportunities as well.”

Merrick Mentor Taylor Golden ’16, a politics and government major and women’s and gender studies minor from Marysville, Ohio, says students have embraced The OWU Connection and all of the possibilities it creates.

“I have a lot of students come up to me and ask about where other students have traveled,” Golden says, “and I can just see in their faces how excited they are at the possibility of traveling somewhere new.”

No appointment is necessary to meet with a Merrick Mentor, but the students suggest emailing any draft proposals or other documents in advance so that they can be better prepared to help. Information may be sent to semaynar@owu.edu.

To learn more about The OWU Connection – Ohio Wesleyan’s version of liberal arts learning for the 21st century – visit www.owu.edu/connection.