France-Merrick Civic Fellowship

France-Merrick Civic Fellows

Meet the 2021-2022 Cohort

Serena Chan ’22 – Second Year Fellow

Serena Chan is a rising senior at Johns Hopkins University, majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology and minoring in Computer Science. She was born and raised in Hong Kong before attending school here in Baltimore. Through discussing her personal and peer’s experience with reproductive healthcare and education, she believes that there are still vast inadequacies with this public health and socioeconomic issue. Thus, she will be focusing on reproductive health and justice throughout the Fellowship. She hopes that she will deepen her understanding of this issue and its complex intersections through being involved with local organizations that are already making an impact in the community.


Yvette Bailey-Emberson ’22

Yvette Bailey-Emberson is a rising senior majoring in Sociology and Spanish with a minor in Social Policy. Born and raised in Baltimore City, she witnessed first-hand the inequalities that exist surrounding housing stability and neighborhood outcomes in the city. Through her experiences volunteering and working with community organizations, she has begun to understand the complex history of these issues and the impacts they have on residents. By focusing on Housing Insecurity throughout the fellowship, she hopes to explore the intersectionality between community service and policy advocacy within the housing sector to remedy the harmful systemic inequalities with community members at the forefront.


Cameron Brown ’22

Cameron Brown is a rising senior at Johns Hopkins University, majoring in Cognitive Science and Spanish. He was born and raised in Hershey, Pennsylvania before becoming a citizen of Baltimore. Before college, Cameron sought to build connections between two long-separated schools in his hometown, and he witnessed how a lack of physical interconnectedness can easily foster segregated communities. Continuing to see physical barriers and limited reliable transportation divide Baltimore, Cameron believes that dismantling these tangible hurdles and building inclusive, efficient infrastructure can ensure equitable access to opportunity and resources. Thus, he will be focusing on urban planning and transportation equity throughout the Fellowship. He hopes to develop a deeper understanding of the complex interactions surrounding this issue, and work with those who seek to transform Baltimore’s physical presence into a unifying force for all Baltimoreans and the neighborhoods they call home.


Carlos Buri-Nagua ’22

Carlos Buri-Nagua is a rising senior at Johns Hopkins University, majoring in Public Health Studies and minoring in Entrepreneurship and Management. He was born and raised in Hightstown, New Jersey, before moving to Baltimore in 2018 to attend school. Throughout his life, Carlos has seen the struggles immigrants face in accessing health services and the stigma surrounding mental health. Inspired by his Ecuadorian immigrant parents’ support, Carlos will be focusing on the intersection of healthcare and immigration throughout the fellowship. He looks forward to working alongside organizations and communities to actively raise awareness about the relationship between health care, health inequities, and mental health stigma for immigrants.


Andrea Guillén ’23

Andrea Guillén is a rising junior at Johns Hopkins University, majoring in sociology and history with a minor in psychology, and is originally from Philadelphia, PA. Growing up in a tight-knit school community in a large city fostered her love of learning and connecting with others, sparking an interest in working with students. In her time at Hopkins, she has begun to learn of the diverse interactions of neighborhoods, schools, families, and independent organizations and how they influence students outside of the classroom. Through the Fellowship, she will be exploring the relationship between schools, families, and anchor institutions. She hopes to learn from administrators, teachers, families, and students, who are working to create meaningful connections between their schools and all facets of a community while creating a supportive educational environment for all students.


Anushka Vakil ’22

Anushka Vakil is a rising senior at Johns Hopkins University majoring in Public Health Studies and Molecular and Cellular Biology. She was raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, CA and moved to Baltimore for her undergraduate studies. Through her time working with community organizations such as MD NARAL and Planned Parenthood, Anushka has seen and worked to address the barriers to essential reproductive healthcare that disproportionately affect Baltimore’s communities of color. Thus, she will be focusing on reproductive justice and policy throughout the fellowship. She hopes this experiences will deepen her understanding of legislative policymaking and lobbying as well as better contextualize the intersectionality of reproductive health with other social determinants.

Meet the 2020-2021 Cohort

Anishta Khan ‘21 – Second Year Fellow

headshot of Anishta KhanAnishta is a ’21 graduate in Public Health Studies and Writing Seminars. She was born in Dallas, Texas, raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh, finished up high school in New Hampshire before coming to Baltimore. As a member of the inaugural cohort, Anishta worked with Writers in Baltimore Schools to support her ongoing engagement in arts empowerment. In the spaces she has found herself in, writing, and more broadly the arts, have helped Anishta find community and a fluency in understanding people. Inspired by such vibrancy, and in pursuit of more, she continued her focus on youth arts engagement in her second year of the Fellowship. She worked closely with organizations that are already doing the good work of giving platform, identity, and all sorts of communities to the young people of this resilient city.

Bentley Addison ’21

Bentley Addison majored in Political Science and Sociology. He is from Somerset, New Jersey, and has lived there before moving to Baltimore in 2017. In the years he has spent in Baltimore, he has grown to love the city and plans to stay here long past graduation. Throughout his life, Bentley has seen the power of education in children’s lives, both throughout his own education, and in engaging with educational institutions and youth in Baltimore through programs from the Center for Social Concern. Because of this, Bentley will be focused on youth educational and extracurricular engagement throughout this Fellowship, and worked to support and learn from organizations bringing resources and support to youth all over Baltimore City.

Serena Chan ’22

Serena Chan is majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology and minoring in Computer Science. She was born and raised in Hong Kong before attending school here in Baltimore. Through discussing her personal and peer’s experience with reproductive healthcare and education, she believes that there are still vast inadequacies with this public health and socioeconomic issue. Thus, she will be focusing on reproductive health and justice throughout the Fellowship. She hopes that she will deepen her understanding of this issue and its complex intersections through being involved with local organizations that are already making an impact in the community.


Shanice Guthrie ’21

Shanice Guthrie graduated with a B.A/M.A. in Philosophy and Medicine, Science & the Humanities with a minor in Bioethics. She was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica, and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida, where she completed her Associates in Arts degree before coming to Baltimore. Through her time served on the Board of Trustees at her community college and her involvement with her visually impaired brother’s education, she finds passion in encouraging awareness for people with disabilities. Inspired by her brother’s courage and drive for success, she will be focused on Disability Inclusivity & Accessibility throughout the Fellowship. She worked alongside organizations and individuals who are actively contributing to increased awareness, accessibility, and rights for people with disabilities within the diverse and ever-evolving Baltimore City area.

Smitha Mahesh ’21

Smitha Mahesh graduated with a degree in Philosophy and minoring in Bioethics. She was born and raised in Perry Hall, MD. With a sincere interest for exploring and understanding unique spaces – from religions to cultures – Smitha finds philosophy and bioethics to be a guiding light in the darkness. Inspired by her committed service to Baltimore City and her passion for ethics and justice, she focused on the intersection of healthcare and immigration through the Fellowship. She worked with organizations that actively give a voice and identity the people and communities that empower the diverse immigration population of this city.



Noor Nassar ’21

Noor Nassar, graduated in 2021 with a Molecular and Cellular Biology major and a minor in Psychology and Entrepreneurship and Management. She was born and raised in New York, with a childhood filled with vibrancy and companionship of many younger siblings and cats. Growing up at a crossroads of multiple cultures and identities, she is familiar with the difficulties that immigrant families often face with navigating the web of cultural practice, stigma, and lack of resources. During her time in Baltimore and supported by a community that inspires a locality of service, she focused on the mental health needs of immigrant children in Baltimore. She focused on fostering relationships with organizations, families, and children in the collective effort to nurture and empower children.

Kayla Ostrow ’21

Kayla Ostrow is a 2021 Civil Engineering and Earth & Planetary Sciences graduate. Born and raised in New York City, Hurricane Sandy was the first time she understood the risk that a changing climate poses to urban communities. Through her experiences volunteering, she realized that while technical solutions are a major aspect of adapting to climate change, community-oriented solutions are equally imperative. She focused on climate justice in the Fellowship, and worked with organizations working to realize resilience in Baltimore.

Meet the 2019-2020 Cohort

Anthony Boutros ‘20
Major: Sociology
Hometown: Houston, TX
Focus Area: Intersectionality

Eillen Daniela Martinez ‘20
Major: Medicine, Science, and the Humanities
Hometown: Orlando, FL
Focus Area: Immigration

Anishta Khan ‘21
Major: Public Health Studies & Writing Seminars
Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Focus Area: Arts Empowerment

Oluwadamilola Oshewa ‘20
Major: Neuroscience
Hometown: Newark, NJ
Focus Area: Reproductive Health Justice

Bessie Liu ‘20
Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology
Hometown: Irvine, CA
Focus Area: Employment Access

Reah Vasilakopoulos ‘20
Major: Public Health Studies
Hometown: Hauppauge, NY
Focus Area: Harm Reduction &
Reproductive Justice


The France-Merrick Civic Fellows program is a year-long opportunity for upperclassmen on the Homewood Campus to explore community service and civic engagement through various direct and indirect service opportunities. Fellows are selected through a competitive application process for their leadership potential, their demonstrated interest in service and civic engagement, and their commitment to Baltimore City. Through the program, Fellows participate in a set of coordinated activities, including direct service projects related to an issue area or neighborhood of interest, training and reflection sessions, and professional development opportunities designed to catalyze their future service and engagement efforts.

Students will be required to have a regular service commitment with an organization within the issue area or neighborhood of focus and also identify additional ways to understand the complexity of their focus area. Additional direct service opportunities (episodic or one-time projects) will build understanding of how the focus area is being addressed locally, in Baltimore.

The opportunity to reflect on service, learn related content, and identify other areas of growth in their personal understanding of the issue or neighborhood of focus will enhance student learning and leadership aptitude.

About the Fellowship

The France-Merrick Civic Fellowship engages talented students in a year-long professional and personal development program. This fellowship engages a diverse cohort of full-time, Homewood undergraduate students (juniors and seniors) to lead efforts in creating a culture of Baltimore-based service and engagement for Hopkins undergraduates. This experiential program allows Fellows to gain an understanding of civic and community based systemic issues and opportunities.

During the year-long fellowship, students:
  • commit to full participation in community service and cohort activities throughout the academic year.
  • receive a $3,500 stipend for living expenses and transportation or project needs during the fellowship.
  • engage with campus and community mentors for personal and professional development.
  • foster an understanding and commitment to social issues, root causes, and systemic challenges.
  • create and implement a community and civic engagement plan for the fellowship year, and their future commitment to the communities they call home.
  • commit to at least 10 hours of engagement weekly, including service, reflection, and professional development.

During this program, students:

  1. are guided through the process of planning and implementing their plan for success around an issue area or community of focus.
  2. explore the issues of intersectionality within their issue area or community of focus and will craft a plan for a culminating project to take place during the spring semester.
  3. are encouraged to think critically about their experiences during their community service and create a project to engage their fellow JHU students in a direct service opportunity.
  4. enhance their understanding of community-engaged projects and collaboration with nonprofit and community leaders.
  5. are provided support systems including coaching support from their staff coach, mentoring, content expert training, along with peer cohort support.

Become a Fellow

Information Sessions

Homewood students who will be junior or seniors in academic year 2022-2023 will be eligible to apply for the next cohort beginning in December 2021. To learn more about the Fellowship and application requirements, join the Center for Social Concern for an information session. Meetings with current Fellows and staff members will be offered throughout the application period. Please check back for more information in the fall of 2021.


December graduates and those students studying abroad during the fellowship year are not eligible to participate. This fellowship is open to Homewood juniors and seniors in good academic and professional standing, for the current academic year.

Application Process and Procedures

The France-Merrick Civic Fellowship will has closed the application process for the 2021-2022 cohort. Please check back for more information on applying to the 2022-2023 cohort.


Important Dates

2020-2021 Important Dates and Program Timeline

France-Merrick Civic Fellowship Application OpensDecember 1, 2020
France-Merrick Civic Fellowship Applications DeadlineFebruary 15, 2021 (11:59 PM)
Fellowship InterviewsMarch 21, 2021
Finalists Contacted April 1, 2021
Announcement of France-Merrick Civic FellowsApril 5, 2021
France-Merrick Civic Fellows Welcome ReceptionTBD
First cohort gatheringMay 21, 2021
Civic Fellows Retreat *pending schedulingTBD
Service, Reflection, Training, and Mentoring SessionsSeptember-May
Culmination ProjectsApril-May