Life after Mercer: South Africa to Mercer to Ph.D. program

Written by: Nikki Pellew

American Ph.D. programs have rigorous criteria and are not easy to get into. Not only is the application process tedious, but if you are one of the few masochists lucky enough to gain entry into one of the four to eight-year programs, you have to be prepared to pull out those cobweb filled brain files tucked away since kindergarten.

As an international student from South Africa, coming to the States to study was a BIG deal for me. I mean how many students worldwide really get the opportunity to learn in the “land of opportunity”? Having been accepted to academic programs easily in my home country, I thought “oh this shouldn’t be difficult at all,” but boy was I wrong!

After two graduate programs turned me down I realized harsh rejection was a reality in U.S and being accepted into a Ph.D. program would be a b***h! My goal is to teach at the college level but as the rejections piled up, it seemed as though my dreams might may be dashed.

With my confidence about as low as it could get, I decided to hang in there and keep applying and applying and applying. In the meantime, to avoid both dying of boredom and getting sent back to my home country if I didn’t maintain a student visa qualification, I enrolled in Mercer. I figured it would be easy for me. I had already completed an undergraduate degree after all. I was totally wrong.

I found out I had to actually put in a massive amount of work and effort to succeed in my classes at Mercer! Life has a funny way of slapping us in the face when we need it. Attending Mercer for two semesters was one of the best decisions of my life.

Mercer took me back to my academic roots, and cliche as it may sound, it broadened my horizons. Mercer gave me the opportunity to become involved, I worked on the student newspaper and engaged with my peers in the classroom.

I was finally accepted into a Ph.D in Health Science at Seton Hall University, where I started this semester.

Looking back at my time at Mercer, I find that the connections I made during my brief time at The VOICE, the lessons I learned, the writing and social skills I gained, are all proving invaluable to me. I received faculty support and made valuable friendships that give me a support network I know I can rely on at any time.

Mercer may not be perfect, but few places are. My time there taught me skills that go beyond the classroom, lessons that have made me a stronger person and Ph.D. student.

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Nikki Pellew
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