Bailey Merritt, Brenau Scholar

Brenau Scholar Bailey Merritt

Public speaking is listed as Americans’ No. 1 fear, which gives Bailey Merritt a level of courage most don’t have. She discovered her passion for public speaking while attending Apalachee High School in Winder, Georgia, where she was an honors student. Her newfound hobby led her to compete in the marketing competition hosted by DECA – a nonprofit organization that helps high school and college students prepare for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management – and she won second in the state.

Merritt, who is majoring in marketing with a focus in management, thanks her marketing teacher, Brandi Chitty, for guiding her. “She encouraged me to do the speech competition, so I did, and I ended up winning. The entire experience sparked my love for public speaking.”

While in high school, Merritt took a couple of classes at the Sims Academy of Innovation and Technology in Winder, which offered pathway courses. She initially elected culinary classes, but had to take one additional course, so decided to try marketing. To her surprise, she found she was good at it and started participating in marketing competitions.

The Bethlehem, Georgia, native always knew Brenau was her first choice for college. Although she also considered Valdosta State. Her mother, Pamela (Eddy) Ramirez-Roca, is a Brenau alumna and was determined for her daughter to attend Brenau as well. Participating in Winter Weekend as a junior sealed the deal when Merritt fell in love with the Gainesville campus.

“The community here is so different from where I came from; it’s mostly girls, and no one is mean,” she says. “Everyone is positive and uplifting. You don’t usually see a lot of girls helping girls elsewhere.

Yet, her future at Brenau was uncertain as she competed for a Brenau Scholar slot and learned she was chosen as an alternate. Her anxiety was soon assuaged when, “I got the phone call in early May,” she says. “Someone turned the scholarship down, so they offered it to me and I started crying. I was so happy. It means everything to me.”

Merritt is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha and enjoys doing community service projects, such as volunteering at Smokey Springs retirement community, where she plays games and entertains the residents. She hopes to land a few internships before she graduates, including one at the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, which is offered through the College of Business & Mass Communication. She also dances in her free time, having been trained in ballet, jazz and tap for 14 years. Someday, she would like to move to Atlanta and go into fashion marketing as a manager.

“I hope I can bring something new and different to Brenau,” Merritt says. “You see a lot of theater and nursing majors here; you don’t see too many marketing majors here. I feel like I can make that more common.”

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