For David Merola ’18, choosing a pharmacy school was difficult, as each university he interviewed with seemed to have a lot to offer. However, Merola appreciated the authenticity and candor from the faculty and current students at Shenandoah University during his interview, which ultimately led to his decision to attend.
During his time at Shenandoah, Merola had formative experiences that gave him a sense of direction. Faculty helped him win a grant from the university to fund his own research project investigating genetic differences in subjects with mental illness. He was also encouraged to apply to a summer internship at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. “Collectively, the support I received from the faculty enabled me to…gain valuable experience in a variety of clinical practice settings,” said Merola. “Despite not being a major research university, Shenandoah was still able to tailor my education to meet my goal of pursuing an academic career.”
Merola is now a Ph.D. student at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As a graduate student, he is deeply immersed in the theory and practice of public health. His area of focus is in pharmacoepidemiology, which aims to assess the risks and benefits of drugs in the population.
The most rewarding aspect of being a graduate student for Merola is being part of a supportive intellectual community, in which collaboration, creativity and curiosity are encouraged. The relationships he’s formed with his colleagues in school have become some of the closest and most satisfying he has ever had.
Through his education at Shenandoah, Merola was able to attain an invaluable foundation of clinical knowledge through the didactic and experiential components of the curriculum. In his final year of the program, he had the privilege of completing advanced rotations within the Johns Hopkins Health System. Having his rotations at a large teaching hospital helped Merola identify areas of practice where there isn’t much evidence to guide clinical decision-making, which inspired the focus of his research today.
“SU offers a wealth of edifying opportunities that facilitate professional development in the context of a student-centered culture,” said Merola. “As a student at Shenandoah, you can expect small class sizes and consistent support in achieving your goals from experienced faculty.”