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Our Students: Merdi Lutete

merdiHello everyone, my name is Merdi Lutete and I am currently a senior at East Carolina University. My major is Neuroscience with a minor in Chemistry, I am seeking a Bachelor of Arts degree with the intent of going to graduate school for a M.D. degree.

Coming to college has changed me in so many aspects. One of the ways in which college has changed me is the fact that I have gained a love and admiration for school. In high school I hated school. But now, I just somehow love to learn, and for me that goes back to the fact that when God calls us for something, He himself will give us the instruments to do it; whether it be passion, love, or wisdom. I truly believe that education opens up a lot of doors and gives us insights into a lot of stuff that we would normally not know. It allows us to look at life through different lenses. There is a quote that I love so much, although I do not necessarily know the origin of it but the quote goes on to say “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Simply giving people things and opening doors for them would not do because once they need more doors to be opened, they will become dependent on you. But, when people have an education and a strong foundation and doors are closed, they will know how to open it on their own or better yet know how to knock. Empowering people, especially young adults or simply youth through education allows them to stand on their own two feet in this world, and be able to make a change in the communities around them.

As for servant leadership, I view a leader as a teacher.  Jesus showed us true leadership in the fact that he said “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for a friend” (John 15:13), and he went on and laid down his own life. He also said “I have not come here to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). A true leader shows how to do something and then does by being the example. A leader leads by a perspective of “follow me and do as a do” mentality.  Leadership has to be accompanied by servant-hood, in that we lead by doing and by humbling ourselves in front others.

Now transitioning into my own story, I attended high school here in the U.S.A, but I was not the best student in high school.  I was not active at all. One regret that I do have concerning high school is the fact that I just did not try my best. When I got bad grades, I blamed everyone else but myself.
By my senior year, I started changing, I put a lot more effort and that was highly reflected in my grades. Although my grades did not change significantly, it changed enough to give me a good mindset coming to college.

I had originally decided to go to UNC Greensboro.  I put in my deposit and everything and was extremely prepared, but then that same week I got accepted into East Carolina University. At that time my mind was set on UNCG, and I hated everything about ECU, but I knew I wanted to do medicine.  Therefore, I knew ECU was the better option in regards to my intended major.  I prayed and asked Jesus, to lead and guide me because I knew that UNCG was what I wanted, but not necessarily what I needed.  I prayed and Christ just sort of led me to East Carolina University and I have loved it here since.

I am a Neuroscience major with a minor in chemistry. I know it is a very different kind of major as opposed to the usual such as nursing, bio, etc. But I am just so fascinated with the brain.  It allows me to see the beauty of our creator, just how much the brain controls everything. The fact that it is the powerhouse or engine I should say, for the body, it controls so much and it fascinates me. As for chemistry, I fell in love with Chemistry during my freshmen year when I took general chemistry 1. Just learning about the reactions that occur with chemistry as well as how chemistry is the foundation of science, and all of those reactions pretty much goes on inside of us as well, it was just beautiful to me.

I have just recently gotten in touch with someone who has become my mentor, it is very late on but good nonetheless. Having a mentor is very important because sometimes we need people who can kind of guide. People who have been where we are, they do not have to have done the same major, but the fact that they have been in similar situations before, they can help us. That kind of relationship opens up many doors, because they teach us about the professional scene to prepare us before we get there.  Although friends help too, mentors can advise from a different point of view that friends or family might not necessarily understand. I think of mentors as gardeners helping shape flowers to grow in a beautiful way.

My involvement here in college is a lot more active than high school, but I decided to get involved in a few stuff in a big way, instead of doing a whole bunch of stuff where my involvement would not be as effective. I am currently an undergraduate researcher at a physiology lab, where I have been given the opportunity of running my own study and being able to present it as well. During my sophomore year I tutored general biology at a tutoring center that we have here. Last year I was a Teachers Assistant for general chemistry 2, basically I had to attend their class and hold tutoring sessions once a week, and from last year till this year, I am doing a college volunteer program at the hospital and Ronald McDonald House also in the hospital. All of these stuff would definitely help me in my career path, in that they are all involved with medicine, by me being able to tutor I am having to teach people the materials that I learned which in turn allows for me to better retain it and understand it. Because there is a saying that says that you do not understand something correctly, unless you can teach it to someone else.  With volunteering and research it is allowing me to get a feel of what I would be expected to do and basically help build characteristics in me now that would allow me to do what is needed when I get to that point.

One word of wisdom that I would give someone is that you need a strong foundation because college can shape you for the better or worst. If you come in without that foundation you would crumble, just like a house built without a foundation simply falls when the wind blows. My foundation is Christ, and through this foundation I was able to view my college experience from a set of different lens, which in turn allows me to also make different choices than some peers. That in turn allowed for me to focus on school and studying. Let me tell you, it is possible to come from high school with messed up GPA and come to college and be able to be top of your class, it is extremely possible. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Have faith. Being able to study in America is not a right but it is a privilege, so please do not take it for granted or abuse it, but treasure it.

A way in which we can help improve FLOCA’s impact is by supporting FLOCA. If the community and the youth are supporting it then there would be a greater impact in the number of people who are influenced by it. We can support FLOCA by investing our time, money and resources to help maintain it.  I feel like we tend to get out of our communities and do not return. But because we got out and obtain certain skills, we are in a better position of being able to come help and make a change, and teach others how to maybe get out as well. We need to change the mentality that we are each other’s enemies and that we need to compete. Compete for what? This world is big enough for all of us to succeed in whatever GOD has called us to do.

One last thing before I finish, I want to share a story from the book of Esther. It’s Esther chapter 4 verses 13-14. What happened in this specific part of the story from the Bible is that Haman had decided he wanted to kill the Jews because Mordecai, who was a Jew, also Esther’s uncle, did not want to bow down to him. So Mordecai was telling Esther, since she was the queen, that she needed to go speak to the king about this issue, but the rule with the king was that if he did not call someone to his presence, one could cannot go.  If a person went to see the king and he did not extend his scepter over that person, that person got killed. So Esther was afraid for her life, so Mordecai told her this, “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all the other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this.” To drive my point home, I ask you, who knows if you were put in your specific position for just a community as this? As Joseph was put in power in Egypt to be a blessing for his family, maybe you were put in your respective positions to be a blessing for others as well. So be encouraged to make a change in your community and others as well.
Don’t stock the flow of blessings that are meant to flow from your life to other people’s, or your blessings will be cut.

So, my beloved brothers and sisters, I encourage you all to go out and be the change you wish to see happen. Empathize with others so you can be motivated to take a stand. Do not be a fan, simply watching the game of life go by, but be a player and make a change. God bless you all.

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