Apply to be a part of the 2013-2014 editorial staff! Visit mercercluster.com/apply to apply for an editor position.
Applications are due Friday, May 3 by 10 p.m.
Apply to be a part of the 2013-2014 editorial staff! Visit mercercluster.com/apply to apply for an editor position.
Applications are due Friday, May 3 by 10 p.m.
When I accepted the challenge of reminiscing about my time at Mercer, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. Then I struggled with words for a while. Then I thought about sending in a piece of paper with tears and smiles drawn all over it because I honestly cannot think of a better way to summarize how I feel about my home for the past four years. Sometimes I’ve wished to be elsewhere. Sometimes I’ve wanted to go back to Carrollton to see my parents. But I’ve found that living life at Mercer is like any good relationship: sometimes it’s hard and sometimes you want to give up, but if you stick through the tough times, it can be the most rewarding experience of your life. I came to Mercer thinking that I was going to study a lot, never procrastinate, and find my fulfillment in straight A’s (no joke). Mercer has since given me a slap upside the head and reminded me that life is more than academic and professional success. Instead, it is about having a little fun, serving the community we are in, learning to deal and laugh when times get tough, finding your faith, making friends, and loving through brokenness. Sometimes people treat college as a stepping-stone that isn’t really reflective of “real” life. While that is true on some level, I think that Mercer has taught us what is important and how to strike a balance between things that matter a little and things that matter a lot. This is our real adult life, and we are living it. I originally fell in love with Mercer in the spring of 2008 for the beautiful campus. The honeymoon period is long over, but I am still in love with Mercer University because of the lessons I’ve learned and the people I’ve learned to love.
I honestly don’t know how to sum up my time at Mercer, and that’s partly because it doesn’t feel like it’s over yet. In a month plus a day, I will board a plane for Thailand to teach English for ten months with Service First—something I probably would not have done if not for Mercer and the experiences it granted me with Mercer on Mission. The reality that I am leaving has not sunk in yet. Earlier today, I was walking across the Quad toward the CCJ, looking at the white admin tower against the glorious blue spring sky, and I thought, “This isn’t really happening, is it? There’s no way.” I meandered over to Jesse’s Plaza, toward the bench where my favorite Mercer picture was taken: myself and my five closest friends from freshman year, laughing and falling all over each other in a chaotic pile. I gave Jesse’s head a rub as I passed, more for the familiarity of the gesture than anything else.
I could not begin to thank all of the people who deserve it for getting me through my college experience—friends, family and professors who listened to my stress and my woes and celebrated my triumphs. When I came here, I did not expect to find such a nurturing community: one where professors invited me to their offices and their home, and gave me books, encouragement and much-needed advice. I owe so much to Mercer’s travel programs that allowed me to visit ten different countries during my undergrad career, to The Cluster for turning me into a journalist and to the friends who helped me grow (and put up with my less-than-graceful growing pains).
Mercer—and Macon, really, and everyone I’ve known in those two communities—has worked its way into the bedrock of who I am, and it will continue be part of me as I build on that foundation. Maybe that’s why I feel like I’m not really leaving. In a way, a part of me will always be here, and a part of here will always be with me.
My time at Mercer has been filled with art and beauty. I know that sounds really cheesy, but as a journalism and theatre double major, I’ve been supremely lucky to be surrounded by so much talent.
Freshman year, I did a show at a local theatre instead of auditioning for Mercer theatre right off the bat (because, if I’m totally honest with myself, I was completely intimidated by the Mercer Players). As I was sitting in Jay Black’s office after my show closed, he told me that I needed to get involved with Mercer theatre. Then I auditioned for Cinders the next semester, and the rest is history.
I’ve been in 12 shows in the past three and a half years, and have seen countless more. I’ve been lucky to get to participate in my passion in so many capacities, from learning about production and performance theory from Marian Zielinski, to performing my hour long senior performance project, to seeing shows for free. Now that I have a professional acting job lined up after graduation, I realize how much of an incubator this program has been for me and I couldn’t be more excited to see what the Mercer Players are going to do after the current seniors leave.
At that same meeting with Jay freshman year, he also told me that I needed to get more involved with The Cluster and journalism through Mercer. I didn’t take him up on that advice until my senior year, but I’m so glad that I did. I’ve made some really great friends through working on The Cluster, and have made some really good memories. I’ve learned so much from the other editors and writers, and I wish I had gotten involved much earlier.
I’m really going to miss this place and all of the people that made it feel like home, and I know that Mercer is going to thrive to a level that we can’t even fathom once we’re gone.
I started at Mercer as a transfer student. As a transfer student it was not easy to meet friends, and on top of that I didn’t live on campus. During my first year at Mercer I kept to myself. I didn’t talk to people much and went home right after classes. I later learned that treating college this way wouldn’t work. College is about the experiences as well the education. If I had stayed to myself I would missed half of the college experience. It was not until I was well within my ‘major’ classes that I started making friends. I started to get involved with some of the clubs around campus,too. Over my last two years I have worked on some projects that have helped me move towards what I hope to do for the rest of my life. Through these projects I have made valuable contacts in my career field.
Through all my experiences I would have to say the best piece of advice is to be yourself, but don’t be too shy. Get involved with your major, clubs and activities. Go have fun! College is about having fun and learning both academically and through new life experiences.
Monday evening marked the conclusion of humanity’s weeklong battle against the zombie horde on Mercer’s Campus. Humans finally developed a way to permanently kill the zombies.
In the end, only six humans survived.
Humans fell to their turned brethren in droves, but the population of zombies quickly reached carrying capacity. Zombies must feed every 48 hours or starve to death. Even though a single human kill could feed two zombies, there were simply not enough careless humans remaining to support a zombie population that numbered in the hundreds.
So hit the great zombie famine toward the end of the week. Zombies were starving out of the game.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the entire battle was an elaborate game of Humans vs. Zombies. Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ) is a game of moderated tag in which most players start out as “human,” designated by a white bandana wrapped around the forehead.
If tagged by a “zombie” player wearing an orange bandana, the human player becomes a zombie themselves. With the exception of the final battle, humans could only defend themselves with thrown paper balls, which rendered zombies inert for 15 minutes upon impact.
All academic buildings were out of the bounds of play.
About 250 participants started out the week. By the second day of gaming, 64 humans had been transformed into zombies. The following day the zombie’s numbers grew to 105, but another 10 of the undead starved to death. By the final battle, less than 30 humans remained. The remainder had been turned into zombies.
Humans embarked on two missions during the course of the battle: one to hunt for vials of zombie vaccine and another to escort a researcher to the Willett Science Center so that she could develop a permanent cure. Unfortunately, the escort mission was a failure and the researcher became a zombie herself.
Mercer, Shorter and Sherwood halls joined forces to form the Merterwood government who in turn organized Humans vs. Zombies at Mercer. According to the president of Merterwood, Alfred Lee, members of the Merterwood government conceived the idea earlier this spring.
Merterwood used Humans vs. Zombies Source, a free website, to help organize Humans vs. Zombies. The website assigned each player a unique ID code as well as kept up the current status of each player: living, or undead, or starved. The website also recorded the kill count for each zombie.
When a human player was tagged by a zombie player, the human had to give up their ID to the zombie so that the killer could register it on the source website.
Human players spent most of the week constantly checking over their shoulders and avoiding ambush staged by smarter zombies.
“I walked out of the caf and turned to a friend and said ‘hey there are some zombies, we should get out of here’ and then I got tagged,” sophomore Michael Roberts said.
Roberts was a human for barely 30 minutes. He spent the rest of the game stalking his still-human friends.
“You start picking out people that you want to kill, but it’s all in good fun. I loved it,” Roberts said.
Senior Lee Godsey survived as a human until the final battle.
“I’m a fan of zombie type games and movies, It seemed like a fun change into reality,” Godsey said. “I was on my bike and there were two in front of me. I had to get off my bike and two more came up behind me. I had to fight all four of them off on my own.”
The game was sometimes bewildering to non-players. Mercerians were perplexed as fellow students would suddenly take off running at the first sight of a nearby zombie. Others were happy to watch the carnage unfold in front of them, like a spectator at a Roman gladiator game.
“It’s like watching a lion hunt on National Geographic, you root for the humans, but you kind of want see them get eaten,” Senior Brittani Howell said.
Rob Sumowski is a Mercer Alum, who teaches at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Ga. He graduated in 1989 with two BMAs in Music and Psychology. His collection of signed NASA photos and articles was on display last year in the Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences. Sumowski is now compiling a collection of World War II memorabilia that is five years in the making.
Cluster: What made you choose Mercer?
Sumowski: They had the coolest display table when they came to my high school. Everybody was real nice. They had a pretty good music department, and I was offered a scholarship. It was between here and The Citadel, believe it or not, because I went to a military school, back in Savannah. I almost went that route. Then when they offered me the music scholarship, it was great.
C: What instrument did you play?
S: I was a percussionist. I came here in ‘85, and graduated in ‘89. I was the drummer in the Mercer Big Band, and I did orchestral ensembles. I don’t know if you’re on scholarship, but usually when you are, it’s indentured servitude. So, basically, any time the music department said “You’re going to play,” you just had to do it.
C: Why did you choose your majors?
S: I came in as a business major, actually, but I’m just not a business type of guy. Music was required, but what I really wanted was a psychology degree. I did the music degree for Mercer, because that was a requirement, due to the scholarship, and that allowed me to get the psych. degree that I wanted.
C: What sorts of clubs and organizations were you a part of?
S: I was an SAE – a social fraternity. I was in Phi Mu Alpha, which was a professional music fraternity. That was fun. I played in all the bands, here and on-campus. I was a senior senator in SGA.
C: Did you do any sorts of big performances outside of Mercer’s music program, here?
S: Oh, yeah, I spent the ’90s on the road with a bunch of bands, ranging from Gypsy Train to the Go Go Girls to Kevin Kinney from Drivin’ ‘N’ Cryin’. Shawn Mullins and I did four records together with Colombia. Kristian Bush, who’s now part of a country band called Sugarland – he and I were on the road together for a little while. So, yeah, when I left here, I kind of ended up in the Atlanta acoustic scene, which was a really cool place to be in, during the ’90s.
C: Now, earlier before the interview, you mentioned the co-op. What was your favorite place to hang out on campus?
S: Yeah, we would hang out in the co-op; that was where everybody went to smoke, every day. They always had a break at 10 o’clock, for chapel hour, and nobody ever went to chapel. It was basically social hour, so we would always spend it there.
C: What was your best memory at Mercer?
S: Mercer was a great place to be in the ’80s. It was a lot more open. A lot different than it is now – a lot smaller and more laid-back. I always liked the way the professors would interact with the students. We had a good relationship with them. I remember Tom Trimble. He would throw erasers. If you weren’t paying attention, he would whip out these chalk-board erasers. One day, I got there early, and I gathered all the erasers in the entire Knight Hall, in the whole second floor. I loaded them all up with chalk dust and put them behind the student desks. I gave a signal in class and we all got up and threw erasers at him. He started throwing erasers at us, and he’s hiding behind the desk. He’s this big, verbose kind of guy. It was just this kind of stuff – the interaction with professors.
C: What is the most notable thing you learned from your time at Mercer?
S: To think for myself. I attribute that to my professors. These guys, they let us screw up. They let us get our head underwater without letting us drown. In other words, they worked with us. I wasn’t the best student in the world as an undergrad, but since then I’ve gotten three more degrees and I’m published and whatnot. In the end it all worked out.
Summer break is almost here, and that means many of you will spend more time outside–whether at the beach or exploring the town where you’re studying abroad.
With more sun exposure comes greater risk of getting sunburnt, especially for very pale individuals, like myself.
While it may be more fashionable to be tan, it’s more healthy to stay pale. Too much sun exposure can cause skin cancer. It also causes wrinkles, which is something I know you want to avoid, ladies.
Plus, according to history, paleness was a sign of wealth and nobility, because it meant you didn’t have to toil in the hot sun all day like the common laborers.
I searched WebMD for advice about preventing sunburn.
Obviously, you should wear sunscreen every time you’ll be outside for longer than 15 minutes. Make sure the sunscreen you choose has an SPF of 15 or higher. The higher the SPF number, the longer your skin can be in the sun without a high risk of sunburn. Also, make sure the sunscreen you use says “broad-spectrum” on the label. This means it will protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, which are the main causes of skin damage from the sun.
Your lips can get sunburnt too, so finding a lip balm with an SPF of 15 or higher will protect your lips as well.
Reapply sunscreen every two to three hours.
Be sure to reapply sunscreen more often if you are going to get wet at the pool or the beach.
Aside from sunscreen, hats are a great way to protect your head, ears, neck and shoulders. Men might only want to wear baseball caps, but if you’re a girl, buy a wide-brimmed sun hat. You’ll be protected and fashionable, all at the same time.
Also, make sure your sunglasses have UV ray protection to prevent eye damage.
If you’re like me and you like reading outside or by the pool, try and find a shady area or an open umbrella to sit under. You can still enjoy the warmth of the outdoors and stay protected.
If you do happen to get sunburnt, WebMD also has treatment tips.
Cool water from a shower or a damp cloth will provide relief, as will lotions that contain aloe vera. You can also buy aloe vera gel. Keep it in the fridge, and apply it to the sunburnt area to relieve sunburn pain.
Medicine such as Tylenol, Advil or Motrin can also help ease the pain of a sunburn.
Be sure to keep lotion on the sunburnt area. Not only will it relieve the pain, but it will also help relieve itching and might make the peeling process easier.
Try not to let things bump or rub up against your sunburn. Wearing loose-fitting clothing will help with that.
Do some more research about preventing and treating sunburn before your beach vacation, and remember that no matter how beautiful your tan skin looks now, it’s not worth the wrinkles or skin cancer that could come later in life.
Mercer SGA recently gave approval to a somewhat new organization called Sigma Xi, a scientific research society.
Steven Hussung, student vice president of the organization, said that there has been a Sigma Xi organization for Mercer University faculty for quite some time. However, the addition of a student organization is new.
Sigma Xi “functions as kind of an honors organization for students who’ve performed research and presented research,” said Hussung. Hussung said students who have presented research in an open forum are eligible to join Sigma Xi.
As of induction in the fall, the organization has around 70 members.
Aside from supporting the scientific research of students and faculty, the goal of Sigma Xi is to present research to the public and connect people with the scientific community in a way that is accessible and easy to understand.
One of the ways Mercer’s Sigma Xi chapter did this was through a science café at Francar’s on Wednesday, April 17. Sigma Xi partnered with Mu Phi Epsilon, who provided live music, to organize the event.
“The idea is that since formal scientific presentations don’t work for everybody, you can have a meeting in a coffee shop or a restaurant,” said Hussung. “And you can have a very informal presentation of some sort on science.”
The presentation at Francar’s included a trivia game based off of Dr. Kevin Drace’s research on gold. Hussung said people from outside Mercer’s science program not only attended, but enjoyed and understood the presentation as well.
“Carl over at Francar’s asked if he could invite a group of 8th graders, and Dr. Drace said ‘sure,’” Hussung said. “He presented at a level which would have been fine with that.”
Sigma Xi thought the science café was informative and successful, and they received many good reviews about it.
Sigma Xi has also brought speakers to campus who have lectured on a variety of scientific subjects.
Hussung said that this type of accessibility will enhance student life at Mercer because, whether they are science students or not, students have the ability to learn about new topics through events hosted by Sigma Xi.
Hussung thinks Sigma Xi will also enhance the academic atmosphere at Mercer.
“Mercer is a small school, and one of the problems with being a small school is sometimes, especially in the sciences, you end up lacking research,” said Hussung.
“I think one of the ways Mercer can address that is intentionally creating a research community … and when students do research you want to celebrate that and support them in that,” he said. Hussung said that Sigma Xi facilitates that research community.
Sigma Xi helps Hussung, who did research last summer, and other students who are interested in scientific research by giving them a way to advertise presentations and putting them in contact with others who have done research.
Sigma Xi has no regular meetings, however they have a Facebook group where they advertise events.
Students interested in Sigma Xi can check out the Facebook group or email Bryan Danley at Bryan.B.Danley@live.mercer.edu.
With the end of the semester rapidly approaching, many students are looking forward to the reprieve of summer. However, there is one obstacle standing in their way: final exams.
Every student has them, and they are especially daunting for newer students and those about to graduate. It is important to remember not to stress yourself out over exams. There are several steps to take that will help you study and reduce stress.
The first, and perhaps most obvious, step is the one that most students ignore. Do not procrastinate.
If your professor warns you of the exam three weeks before it is scheduled, do not wait until the night before to study. Plan things out in advanced and schedule your time around exams.
Also, be sure to note when your exams are. It is difficult to study for an exam when the study time you allot yourself ends up being taken by another exam you forgot to plan for.
The same applies to papers and essays. If you are given a ten page paper as a final, do not wait until the day of to work on it. The stress levels alone make this a bad idea. You will rush it and make mistakes.
For essays and papers its best to at least plan ahead by a week. If possible, write the paper early, wait a few days for your head to clear and then go back and edit it. You would be surprised at the mistakes you notice once you approach it with a fresh perspective. You have to make the most of the time available.
Inevitably, some students will find themselves backed into a situation where they are forced to choose between exams. This is not a pleasant situation to be in. Before giving up or panicking, analyze your strengths in each subject. Also, look at what the tests are weighted at in your overall grade for the class. You may have to make the tough choice to focus on one exam over the other.
Play to your strengths. If you are strong in history and have a great grade in that class but are struggling in spanish, focus more on the spanish exam, but still review over the history if possible.
This is only for extreme cases of course. If possible, avoid being in placed in these types of situations. Try studying in advance as much as possible.
Memorization and flashcards are tried and true methods for preparing for exams. They can be used for nearly all subjects. Dates of major historical events, complex equations, foreign language terms, and more can be studied in this manner.
It is a cheap and effective study method when working alone or in groups. It is even possible to outline papers with flashcards.
You can also seek out teachers for help preparing for exams. Most teachers are happy to answer questions their students have about the exam. They will work with you for as long as they can or until you are ready.
Do not be afraid also to ask if you can retake some of your previous exams in the course. This gives you a way to prep for the exam by looking at how the teacher has formatted some of your earlier exams. It also allows you to review material that may be covered on the final exam.
If the teacher will not let you view an older exam, create your own. Work out questions that you think may be on the final. Go back through your class notes and see which sections were covered the most; chances are they will be a test topic.
What students need the most during exam time is sleep. Do not forget to get some sleep during exam week. Your mind will be sharper and more alert if you are well rested.
Try to avoid relying on energy drinks to stay awake during the exams; they are not healthy. The most sleep you get, the better you will retain the information.
It is unlikely that you will get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night, but try to get at least get six. If you have two or three hours free during the day, try to take a short nap. You would be surprised how much of an energy boost a nap can be. A little rest here and there will help reduce your stress levels. That is the most important thing to remember.
Just do not stress out over finals. You will do worse if you panic.
Relieve summer boredom by creating unique art to furnish your future dorm
Sometimes students need a break from the endless amount of studying that comes with a Mercer education.
Crafts are a great way to relieve stress, and creating something decorative and special is also great for spicing up your white-walled dorm room.
Now, with summer almost here, crafts are also a great way to relieve boredom while you plan the interior design of your future living space.
One fun and easy craft to make is a chevron-patterned painting.
First, buy a canvas from your local Michaels or Hobby Lobby. You will also need paint in your preferred colors and paint brushes.
To get started on your painting, draw a series of vertical lines onto the blank canvas with a pencil. You can space them out depending on how thick or thin you want your pattern to be.
After you’ve drawn vertical lines, draw a series of horizontal lines so that you create a set of squares on your canvas. Make sure to draw the lines as lightly as possible.
Once the squares are set, you can start drawing the chevron pattern. To do this, simply draw a diagonal line, corner to corner, across the middle of your first square. Working vertically, draw diagonal lines in the same direction for every square beneath the one you just worked on.
Draw a line in the opposite direction in the square next to the first one. The tip of the diagonal line should touch the tip of the line in the first square. Repeat in the same manner until all the squares are filled.
After the chevron pattern has been drawn out, place painters tape onto the chevron lines.
Once the tape is set, start painting.
When painting, you can choose to alternate between colors or stick to the same color.
Once the paint dries, peel off the tape, and your chevron painting will be complete.
Another decorative craft idea is to paint a canvas that features your favorite quote or song lyrics. Go to Pinterest or Craft Gawker to get ideas on how to create a cool background and stencil a quote onto your canvas.
Usually, writing quotes is the hardest part because your hand might shake or smear the paint.
In order to avoid ruining your canvas, type the quote on your computer and then print it out. Place the printed letters onto the canvas and, using a ballpoint pen, lightly trace the letters. When you lift the paper, there should be a light outline of the letters. After that, just paint the outline and you will have a perfect set of letters, smear free.
While most college students spend their summer vacations reclining in their La-Z-Boy in front of their TV, Mercer students break the mold by having jam-packed summer schedules. From internships to studying abroad, Mercer students are sure to be active this summer.
Allison Harrison, a junior who is triple majoring in economics, business and spanish, plans to spend her summer in Augusta doing a tax internship at an accounting firm called Cherry Bekaert.
Harrison found out about the internship opportunity from her father who works with someone who worked at the accounting firm. After sending in her resumé, Harrison scheduled an interview with the firm over Christmas break and landed the internship.
Harrison is excited about her internship. “It is going to definitely get me experience and help me figure out if I like this field of work and kind of give me a little hands on experience. I’m excited about that, but also I’m just keeping my options open and seeing what is out there for the future,” she said.
Freshman and Mercer University Stamps scholar Min Hyun Oh plans on traveling overseas to Denmark this summer for an education practicum.
During her time in Denmark, Oh will learn more about global education. “I’m very excited and I’m looking forward to the education practicum. I’ll be learning about global education, which is related to what I want to do in the future.”
The aspiring teacher believes in using summer vacation to uncover one’s passions. “For people who know what they want to study and major in, they should try to find programs related to their major, but for people who haven’t decided what they want to do yet they should try being mentors for kids or for someplace that interests them.”
While Harrison and Oh will spend most of their summer vacations indoors, sophomore Caroline Cooper decided to brave the wilderness at Glisson Camp and Retreat Center as a camp counselor.
Cooper will abandon household amenities such as a microwave while she cooks her meals over campfires for three weeks.
During a typical camp day the staff and campers go to chapel twice. Campers can also participate in outdoor activities such as kayaking and climbing or arts and crafts.
Fortunately, for the last six weeks of Cooper’s stay at the camp, she will be in a village where she will live in a cabin. “I’ll have campers who are seven or are going into college, so 18 or so,” Cooper said.
Cooper looks forward to meeting the staff at the camp. She said, “I’m so excited to know all of the new staff members…I’m just excited to meet the new people that are coming in.”
Junior Erin Brett will be soaking up the sun in Daytona at Campus Outreach’s Beach Project this summer.
“It’s an eight week program in Daytona Beach where 150 college students from Campus Outreach go and work during the day and during the night they have training sessions. [Participants] learn how to study the Bible and share their faith how to pray,” said Brett about the intense, Gospel-driven program.
At Beach Project, students juggle a full-time day job and attend daily worship. Brett wants to take full advantage of the Project’s opportunities. “We only have so many summers and I was told that Beach Project is like a green house and you are given some time to grow spiritually and emotionally,” Brett said.
Senior Chase Williams plans, with 18 other Mercer students, to travel halfway across the globe to Thailand this summer to teach English for a year.
The political science major believes that this teaching opportunity will help him discover his passion. “It’s kind of tying into what I want to do when I come back and go to grad school. I want to work in international development, so I think teaching English is kind of the base of international development,” said Williams.
He does have some apprehensions about moving far away. “I’m kind of nervous about being away from my family and everybody that I know, but I’ve already established new relationships,” said Williams.
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.