George Washington University, Elliot School of International Affairs
MA in International Development Studies, Global Health
Leyla Merlo was born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland. As a Peruvian-American, she grew up speaking both English and Spanish and would often serve as a translator in her early school days. Her profound interest in addressing health through a multidisciplinary lens led her to major in Public Health Science at the University of Maryland, College Park.
At the University of Maryland, she worked as a research assistant in the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health. She developed an air monitoring plan, measuring the concentration of particulate matter, and collecting traffic count data in several communities. Her efforts were documented in a manuscript she co-authored describing site-specific environmental health disparities. As a McNair Scholar, Leyla had the opportunity to work alongside her faculty mentor and deliver oral and poster presentations on her research.
Her journey in global development began with ROOTS Africa, a student organization that promotes sustainable agriculture in developing countries. Leyla served as President in her senior year and took every opportunity to grow this student organization. The highlight of her ROOTS experience was her trip to Liberia in 2018.
Leyla is currently working at the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy at the University of Maryland. Her work supports the development of a smartphone app for disease prevention and health promotion and is particularly tailored towards African American and Latinx communities.
Leyla will pursue a Master of Arts in International Development with a concentration in Global Health. She is extremely grateful and excited for the opportunity to serve abroad as a USAID Foreign Service Health Officer.
Leyla enjoys spending time outdoors hiking with friends or cycling on neighborhood trails. She loves cats and is particularly fond of her black cat Bagueera.