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Discovery Scholars Living Learning Community

Meet the Discovery Scholars

Merissa Piegols

Marissa Piegols
Majors: English, History, and Media & Communications Studies

Where did you go to high school?
Arundel Senior High School (go Wildcats!) in Gambrills, MD

When and why did you decide you wanted to attend UMBC?

After my first visit, I pretty much knew UMBC would be the school for me. The campus is so beautiful and everyone I met was really friendly. After I was accepted, I also attended Scholar’s Day and got to interact with students, professors, and staff from UMBC. Meeting these people made me realize what a tight-knit community UMBC is, and that was important to me.

How did you hear about the Discovery Scholars Living Learning Community (DS LLC)?

I knew I wanted to join an LLC, so I looked up the list on the reslife website and saw Discovery Scholars!

Why did you decide to participate in the DS LLC?

It honestly just looked like an interesting and unique experience. I also knew I’d be living with a lot of other freshmen who would likely be undecided, like I was at the time, and that appealed to me.

Did you know anyone else in Discovery Scholars when you started? Have you made friends through the program?

I didn’t know anyone when I started, but I’ve made a bunch of great friends on the floor and they feel like family now. I’m actually taking a trip to France this summer with two of the awesome people I met on the floor, one who was a Discovery Scholar and one who was a mentor.

What was the most interesting thing that happened during your first year at UMBC?

Ha, this is a hard question. I don’t really know if it’s the most interesting thing, but one of my favorite memories is the silly “tea parties” me, Christina, Jess, Maeve, Ji-Sung, and Lu-Hua had. We wouldn’t let any of the guys come and would sit in one of our rooms and drink tea/eat junk food and catch up. The random movie nights were also a lot of fun - Eric and I wasted a ridiculous amount of time watching martial arts movies.

What was your favorite part of being part of Discovery Scholars?

I think my favorite part was probably getting to meet all of the great people in the program, including Jill and Laila. The friends I’ve made through the program are a pretty big part of my life now, and I know I wouldn’t have met them had I not been a Discovery Scholar.

In what ways did the DS LLC experience help you at UMBC?

The one-on-one sessions are incredibly helpful. Jill encouraged me to apply for internships and jobs, and also helped me apply for the Honors College, which I am now a part of and which has led to other opportunities for me. We were also required to take a First Year Seminar as a part of DS, and I took Discussing Classics (FYS 101T) as a result. This ended up being one my favorite classes of the semester, and the professor, Dr. Irvine, was fantastic and actually wrote a letter of recommendation for me. The Discovery Scholars program pushed me to take classes I wouldn’t have taken otherwise, and I think it has made a difference in how I approach college.

Would you recommend DS LLC to other new UMBC students?

YES, YES, YES! Especially if you have any worries about starting college. Discovery Scholars gives you the opportunity to get one-on-one help with Laila and Jill, and you get access to all of these other great resources as well, like the lunches/classes and the mentors. Being on this LLC also introduces a community aspect that is much more prevalent than on other floors. Some of my friends were really surprised how close so many people on the floor are, since their floors didn’t have the same dynamic. Discovery Scholars is a great program and I recommend it to everyone!

Tell us a few interesting things about yourself…?

I like tea, medieval literature, movies nights, chocolate covered strawberries, and owls. I have a little mini-garden in my room which I am absurdly proud of (Jess says my plants are my babies, which is probably true). I love reading and writing and am a bit of a neat freak. My favorite movie is a tie between Amelie and Princess Bride, while my favorite tv show is a tie between NCIS and Firefly. Don’t even ask me what my favorite book is because I won’t be able to decide. On campus I am a part of the Engineers Without Borders PR Committee and I work at the Cyber Incubator as an office assistant.