Torn between earning a degree in health sciences or business, Marita Merheb discovered she didn’t have to compromise. As an Honors student in the pharmaceutical sciences program, marketing and management option, she’s open to all opportunities that will help her pursue her interests.
Merheb soaked up the college experience during her first year at UML. She joined three clubs, bonded with professors and participated in events – and it was all online. While not optimal, she says the experience made it easier for her to connect with the campus community once in-person classes resumed.
“I engage in as many events as possible, and I really love campus life because of all the great people who I’ve met,” she says.
The networks she built led her to an internship at UMass Chan Medical School. At the suggestion of Assoc. Teaching Prof. Arlee Dulak, Merheb applied to the summer internship to gain research experience in the medical field. That experience opened her eyes to the world of research opportunities for undergraduates.
“When I got into the Cancer Research Office to work on cancer drug trials, I knew I was meant to participate in the program,” says Merheb, who has lost family members to cancer.
Throughout the 10-week internship, she worked on drug trials for leukemia and breast and prostate cancers. Working alongside research nurses, research coordinators and doctors, she monitored patients on each trial.
Merheb felt prepared for the experience due to a pharmaceutical industry class taught by Asst. Dean Brenda Geiger.
“I was able to apply most of what I learned from the pharmaceutical industry class to my research internship,” says Merheb.
Even though Marita is interested in research, she’s not ready to give up on the business end of the industry.
“I'm hoping to get an internship next summer related to the business aspect of the pharmaceutical industry to gain a better sense of which side suits me more,” says Merheb, who plans on applying to the bachelor’s to master’s program to earn an MBA.
Merheb, the daughter of Lebanese immigrants, grew up in Methuen, Massachusetts, speaking Arabic. She took English as a Second Language classes until first grade. On campus, she’s able to connect with students with similar backgrounds as a member, and now president, of the Lebanese Student Association.
Merheb, whose twin brother, business major Charbel Merheb, also attends UML, says that she values UML’s campus diversity.
“There’s a strong sense of a cultural community at UML, which has helped me and many other students fit in comfortably,” she says. “I like how there’s many campuswide initiatives on topics such as sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion. All in all, UML provides high value for a lower cost, which you can’t find at other colleges.”