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Merrill Presidential Scholars name North Point teachers as mentors who shaped their educational journey

North Point High School graduates were recently named Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Maryland seniors Aliah Brown and MaryAnne Onianwah — both 2020 North Point graduates — are among 20 students named as Merrill Scholars for 2023-2024. The program honors the university’s most successful seniors and the mentors who have encouraged and inspired them in kindergarten through 12th grade and college.

Aliah Brown
Brown, who is studying government and politics in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, named Anna Newton, a North Point social studies teacher, as a mentor. Newton coaches North Point’s mock trial team and met Brown when she joined the club. “From my very first year on the team, she had unwavering faith in my potential, and her guidance motivated me to work harder, both inside and outside the courtroom,” Brown said.

Newton remembered Brown as a student with ambition and drive. “She had this quiet confidence in the belief that putting in hard work will lead to success,” Newton said. She said watching students grow and achieve their goals is the ultimate validation for a teacher. “When I found out Aliah chose me and read what she wrote about my impact on her academic career, I felt tears of joy,” Newton said. “I’m truly honored.”

Brown named Justine DeCamillis, Ph.D., assistant director of justice and legal thought with the university’s MLAW programs, as her college-based mentor.

MaryAnne Onianwah
Onianwah, an information science major in the College of Information Studies, said former North Point teacher Glenn Stergar helped give her the confidence to continue in the field of technology. “In high school, being a woman of color in my technology class was tough,” Onianwah said. “Glenn Stergar ensured that I pushed myself and gave it my all,” she said. “He had faith that I could become a leader in the technology industry and his mentorship helped me realize these goals.”

Stergar, a Cisco Networking Academy instructor who retired in 2022, said the process of getting into the academy is a rigorous one with only 18 students from Charles County gaining entrance each year. “MaryAnne was a pioneer and one of the first students of the Class of 2022 to earn her [Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician] CCENT Certification,” Stergar said. She was also one of four North Point students selected to participate in the school’s computer internship program in her senior year and represented the school in SkillsUSA and Cyber Patriot competitions. “I know she is on her way to becoming a leader in technology as she focuses on being a people-centered technologist,” Stergar said.  

He said it was humbling to have received accolades for being a mentor to his former student. “It is an extremely nice way to begin my retirement,” he said, adding, “MaryAnne's ambition and work ethic always made my job as her teacher-mentor easy and extremely rewarding.”

Ana Ndumu, assistant professor in the university’s College of Information Studies, was Onianwah’s selection as her college mentor.

The late Philip Merrill, a publisher and philanthropist, created the scholars program to build a community of scholars, faculty members and teachers of students in kindergarten through 12th grade who recognize the importance of teaching and mentoring, according to information provided by the University of Maryland.

Each year the University of Maryland honors outstanding seniors and confers on them the designation of Merrill Presidential Scholars. The scholars are selected by the academic colleges and schools with undergraduate major programs.


About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,598 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).