International Student Spotlight: Louvette Cherry Neal

Located in West Africa, Liberia has a rich, diverse culture and a population of almost 3.7 million people. It is also the home of one proud Mercerian.
Louvette Cherry Neal, a Global Health major currently finishing her junior year, came to Mercer University two years ago thanks to a partnership between her high school and the university. “Every year two students are picked to study at Mercer for free and I was one of the lucky ones,” said Neal.
Neal’s international student scholarship allowed her to come to the United States and get her bachelor’s degree. This opportunity will not only help her get a better education, but she also said that it has been a great opportunity for her to meet people from other countries and cultures.
Being far away from home has not been easy for Neal. However, she said that she has had a great experience in the United States so far. “I’ve seen amazing places and met people who are very encouraging,” said Neal.
Even though she has been enjoying her time here, Neal’s experience has had some downs. Her least favorite thing in the US is the food, and the most difficult cultural difference she had to get used to was “meeting people on several occasions and walking past them like we never met,” said Neal.
Liberian food is very spicy, and rice is a big part of every meal. Liberian cuisine reflects the rich heritage of Liberians. Some dishes include peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, ginger and palm oil. Rice is eaten at least twice a day.
Neal misses her family and Liberian cuisine the most. However, Neal said her family has been really supportive of her getting a good education, especially her mom. And fortunately, Neal’s grandmother lives in Georgia so she spends most holidays and special occasions with her.
Going back to Liberia is a big part of Neal’s future plans. After she graduates, Neal will go back home for a year and then come back to the United States to get her master’s degree. In five years, she sees herself going back to Africa, whether to Liberia or some other African country, working as a public health representative or something public health related.
The international student experience can be hard at times, but Neal has learned how to overcome cultural differences, and for the most part has enjoyed her time at Mercer. “My favorite experience at Mercer would have to be encountering, helpful, nice and supportive Americans,” said Neal.