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Central MA College Standout: Clark’s Brenna Merrill

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


Clark University's Brenna Merrill is taking what she's learned about herself and using it to empower others.

Brenna Merrill is a Political Science major (with a minor/concentration on Urban Development and Social Change) at Clark University.  A senior from Wheeling, Illinois, Merrill was one of a select number of students chosen for participation in the LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) Pioneer program. She was a Lois and Robert Green Urban Development and Social Change (UDSC) Summer 2013 Intern and a Study Abroad Ambassador. Active in the community, Merrill has been an intern at Girls Inc. and a classroom assistant at Mill Swan Head Start.

A Conversation with Brenna Merrill

SW: Describe the career and/or future you envision for yourself.

BM: I have been lucky enough to have a place in the world where the future can take me in so many different directions. I really want travel to be part of my life; I find that I learn far more about others the more places I have been. More significantly, however, I want to work in the community development field. I am particularly interested in community work that focuses on women and young adult empowerment.

SW: Why did you choose Clark?

BM: I chose Clark for so many different reasons, many that I can hardly remember. I recall being terrified about going so far away from home for school. But, I really liked the motto: “challenge convention, change the world.” I have genuinely wanted to make a difference in the lives of those around me, and Clark had programs that seemed like they'd be able to help teach me how.

SW: What leadership roles have you taken on campus?

BM: I've had a good handful of leadership opportunities while at Clark. My favorite, I'd say, has been working as a Resident Adviser (RA). It has been one of the most challenging positions I have ever had. On that same token, it has taught me so much about who I am as a leader and what I stand for. More importantly, the men and women I have worked with and work for have given me a greater perspective on the world we share.

SW: How have you been involved in the community?

BM: I have been in Worcester for almost four years now. When I first came out here for school I really wanted to get involved and so I tried volunteering at so many different organizations. Among the places I worked at, I loved being a classroom assistant at the Mill Swan Head Start. This past summer I also got to intern at Girls Inc., which was an incredible experience. The girls at the summer camp were full of energy and the office was filled with an inspiring and fun group of women.

SW: What are you passionate about?

BM: Ice cream...and really good music. I suppose a more “serious” answer would be that I am passionate about adventure. It provides the opportunity to live boldly and to grow—two things I could not do without.

SW: What is one thing you have learned about yourself since becoming a college student?

BM: This is a hard question to answer; there are so many. Hmm. Well, I used to be a very picky eater, in many ways I still am. But I have learned that when I try new things, some of them end up good. I guess that is the same for experiences as well as food choices.

SW: What’s your favorite place to go to on campus?

BM: The library, hands down. I love the staircases in the stacks, and I love the giant windows that display Worcester's seasons so well.

SW: Where do you go and what do you do when you leave campus?

BM: I love walking around Worcester—of course maybe not with all this icy wind. With their waffle on a stick, Straight Up Cafe is my go-to place.

SW: What is your favorite book?

BM: This has to be one of the most difficult questions. Today, I suppose, my favorite book would be My Place by Sally Morgan.

SW: What or who has had the greatest influence on you to date? Why?

BM: Oh man. I suppose studying abroad has influenced me the most. There are so many people involved in that experience. There are people who have believed in me, taught me, and challenged me to get there. Then there were those who helped once I was there and upon my return. The shores of the Indian Ocean still pull at my heart strings at times. Most significantly, however, the opportunity to study in Perth, Australia for a semester taught me just how capable I can be in achieving my dreams.

SW: What would someone be surprised to learn about you?

BM: Hmm...well, fun fact: when I graduate from Clark, it will be the first time I have attended one school for more than three years.

SW: If you could do just one thing, locally, nationally or globally to make a difference, what would it be?

BM: Love. I think that is the answer to almost anything. I also find that it is one of the hardest things to do. Real, critical, and forgiving love includes a lot of trust. It means acknowledging your privilege. It means struggling within yourself, with others, and for humankind. Lots of changes can be made in the world. But I believe only important differences can be instilled within our society if we learn to love.


Central MA College Standout is a weekly feature that profiles college and university students in Central MA. Join us every Tuesday for a look at the careers and lifestyles of today’s local college student. If you have suggestions for a College Standout profile, please email [email protected].

Susan Wagner is the president of Susan Wagner PR. In this challenging economy, she has begun a new division to offer affordable start-up packages to new and emerging small businesses and non-profit organizations that include professional writing services, websites, collateral, marketing, social media, grassroots outreach and PR campaigns.


Related Slideshow: College Guide 2013: Best Places To Eat On A College Budget

Our college lifestyle experts have hand-picked these restaurants as great dining options for students on a college budget. Enjoy!

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Make a Meal out of it

One way to eat cheap is to pick a food that is generally inexpensive and make a meal out of it. Wings are a college favorite that won’t run up your bill. Whether you have them delivered, take-out, or for a night out, wings can be a great option. Check out one of Worcester’s favorite spots for wings, Wings Over Worcester

1 Kelley Square, Worcester, MA

(508) 421-9464

Hours: Sun-Wed 11 AM - 1 AM, Thur-Sat 11 AM - 2 AM


Also, keep an eye out for GolocalWorcester’s College Guide on Best Places to Get Wings later this week! 

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Find Free Stuff

What is better than free stuff? Nothing when you’re a college kid. If you’re smart you’ll want to find restaurants where you can get the most bang for your buck. Smokestack Urban Barbecue offers a bacon happy hour on Thursdays where they feature; you guessed it, free bacon.

139 Green St, Worcester, MA

(508) 363-1111

Hours: Sun Noon - 8 PM, Mon-Thur 4:30 PM - 9 PM, Fri-Sat Noon -10 PM. 

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If you’re over 21, you know that the biggest part of your bill usually isn’t your meal, but rather your drinks. Though it may be fun to order drinks when you go out, places that allow you to bring your own drinks will save you tons of cash. West Side Steak & BBQ has a great menu and allows you to bring in your own beer or wine.

2 Richmond Ave, Worcester, MA

(508) 756-6328

Hours:  Mon-Thur 11 AM - 9 PM,  Fri-Sat 11 AM - 10 PM, Sun Noon - 9 PM

For more about drinking around campus, keep an eye out for GolocalWorcester’s College Guide on the Best Bars to Grab a Drink later this week!

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All You Can Eat

Pay one price and eat all you want; is there a better deal than that? Though buffets may get a bad rap, there are plenty of good ones around. At Pampas Churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse located in Worcester, you can get the all-you-can eat special for $22.99 every day before 5 PM. 

145 East Central St, Worcester

(508) 757-1070

Hours: Open 7 days: 11:30 AM - 10 PM 

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Lunch Buffets

Why eat dinner when you can fill up on lunch? Many restaurants offer lunch buffets so you can get the most out of your midday meal without breaking the bank. Sapporo Korean Barbecue & Sushi is an Asian restaurant in Worcester County that offers great buffet options.

50 E Main St, Westborough, MA

(508) 898-1880

Hours: Tues-Sat 11:30 AM - 10 PM,  Sun 12 PM - 9 PM 

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Lunch specials are another great option if you’re hungry during lunchtime. Sushi spots, which can be expensive later in the day, offer some of the best lunch specials in Worcester. Check out the luncheon menu at 7 NaNa Japanese Steakhouse

60 Shrewsbury St, Worcester, MA

(508) 755-8888.

Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30 AM - 1 AM, Sun 12 PM - 10 PM 

Check out GolocalWorcester’s College Guide on Best Asian Cuisine and Best Sushi later this week!

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Late-Night Deals

You don’t need to have food delivered to your dorm or eat at a diner to get those late-night deals. If you do some investigating you’ll know where to get sushi rolls and delicious desserts for only $6. The Sole Proprietor Seafood Bar offers this deal after 10pm on weekdays, 11pm on weekends, and 9pm on Sundays.

118 Highland St, Worcester, MA

508- 798- 3474. 

Late Night Special Hours: Thurs 10 PM - 1 AM, Fri-Sat 11 PM - 1 AM, Sun 9 PM - 1 AM 

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When in Doubt: Five Guys

Five Guys burger is a classic; if you haven’t been there yet, you’re in for a great experience. Insider tip: if you ask for your order to go, your order of French fries, which are freshly-fried and cut on the premises, is doubled. Now that’s how you get twice the amount of food for less.

525 Lincoln St, Worcester, MA

(508) 853-2000

Open 7 Days: 11 AM - 10 PM 

For more on the best places (and the cheapest) to grab a burger consult GolocalWorcester’s College Guide on Best Burger Joints, coming later in the week!


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