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Alumna Awarded Payne Fellowship

By Maryland Today Staff

Leyla Merlo ’19, who graduated with a degree in public health science, has been awarded the USAID Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship. It provides up to $96,000 in benefits over two years for graduate school, internships and professional development activities to prepare for a career in the USAID Foreign Service. Merlo is one of nine fellows selected from across the nation and UMD’s first recipient of this award.

Currently a faculty research assistant at the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy at the UMD School of Public Health and a former McNair Scholar, Merlo plans to pursue a master’s degree this fall in international development studies with a specialization in global health at the George Washington University.

A former member and president of the UMD student-run organization ROOTS Africa, Merlo hopes to be a role model for other prospective foreign service officers from underrepresented backgrounds.

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