News & Stories
Merlin Bailey
June 17, 2022

English and Creative Writing Major Excels at Harvard

It’s true — one class can change your life. Just ask Bailey Merlin ’15, an admissions and outreach coordinator for the Master of Medical Sciences in Global Health Delivery program at Harvard Medical School. She says taking the Writing in Community course taught by Sandra Meek, Dana Professor in English and Creative Writing, set her career path.

In Meeks’ class, Merlin learned how to implement creative writing courses in different populations. Their class project entailed hosting a writing course for high school students at the local library. It was Merlin’s first experience witnessing the effects of therapeutic writing. “ … I was like wow, this 16-year-old girl who was very nervous and didn’t want to share — she is now enjoying reading us her very weird story and has made friends in the class and seems so much more confident in herself.”

Understanding the cathartic value behind putting pen to paper opened Merlin to opportunities she had not envisioned. She went on to co-found and serve as the workshop facilitator of the Writing for Wellness outreach program at Butler University, which focuses on using creative writing for therapeutic purposes. With medical findings supporting its vision, this initiative has been implemented in an array of communities with populations searching for healthy means of expression.

After completing a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at Butler University, Merlin took a hiatus from work and moved to Boston. But her break did not last as long as intended when she applied for the position of staff assistant at the Harvard Medical School in Global Health and Social Medicine program, competing with applicants who had administrative and scientific backgrounds. Merlin’s tenacity led to her current position where she designs marketing materials, runs ad campaigns and shares news about faculty, students and alumni. She also manages applications, admit paperwork, visas and new student onboarding. More recently, she has been accepted into Harvard’s Master of Science in the Media, Medicine and Health program where she will explore the impact of storytelling on loneliness.

Merlin notes how Berry impacted her life trajectory, explaining that professors in the English department demonstrated dedication to students by meeting them on an individual level and inspiring them to live out the Berry mission of “head, heart and hands.” She adds, “It’s crazy to think that because of one class I took my junior/senior year, I got into the medical side of the world and became interested in improving health.”

Story by sophomore Amani Pyron

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