Early College High School Success Story: Lauren Merrell

Topics: Early College High School, Education Policy, ESSA

Lauren Merrell excelled at Toledo Early College High School, graduating as her class valedictorian. A first-generation college goer, she graduated high school with her diploma and enough college credits to allow her to enter the University of Toledo as a junior!

Growing up, Lauren was a good student and dutiful daughter. But she wanted more than her background might have predicted for her. Lauren wanted to be the first in her family to attend college and establish herself in a degreed profession — a profession that would allow her to give something substantial back to her neighborhood.

When she found out she was accepted into Toledo Early College High School, she said “I practically jumped up and down and I hugged my mom as my eyes began to fill with tears. These tears were not only of joy, but of hope that I would make it…I would do something with my life that was amazing.”

During high school, Lauren took part in a pharmacy internship program and decided “to own and manage my own pharmacy someday.” That decision helped give her direction as she selected a college major.

Events in her personal life while in college made achieving that dream difficult. Her grandmother fell ill and Lauren, who was very close to her grandmother, visited her daily. It took an emotional toll and effected her schoolwork.

Turning to a skill Lauren learned while attending Toledo Early College High School, to ask for support and help when it was necessary, she turned to the University’s peer mentorship program and people rallied to help. She was able to get back on track at school and later became a peer mentor herself.

“I’m very excited about this chance to pay back what was given to me,” Lauren said.