2008 Graduate Ernst Renondeau
Pursues Career in Medicine


Ernst Renondeau's aspirations for a career in medicine took root as a teenager in Haiti. He vividly recalls the moment when his older brother suddenly fell ill while eating. "He just collapsed and my brothers and sisters and I felt so helpless," said Renondeau, who graduated from Mercer County Community College's Nursing program in 2008. "After asking for help, a neighbor, who was a nurse, came to our aid and pretty soon he was okay. I knew then that I wanted to help in those situations."

An outstanding student throughout primary and secondary school, Renondeau immigrated to the United States in 2004 for more advanced educational opportunities. Through family members who lived in Ewing, N.J., he learned about Mercer County Community College, which offered the advantages of affordability, a preparatory ESL curriculum, and core courses in the arts and sciences.

While working part-time on the factory assembly line at the Trane Company in Trenton from midnight to 6 a.m., Renondeau took the bus day each day to attend morning classes at Mercer. Accepted into the Nursing Program in 2006, he pursued his studies in basic and advanced science and the clinical curriculum with two goals in mind: to earn his Nursing degree while also preparing for a four-year pre-med program.

This spring, as a biology major at Rider University, Renondeau will be inducted into the Lambda Beta chapter of Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society. He is contemplating combining a career as a surgeon or oncologist with a doctorate degree in cell molecular biology. He is also a Rider University McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Scholar. Named after Ronald E. McNair, an African American astronaut and engineer who died in the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, the program's goal is to expand the number of minority students earning doctoral degrees in sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Renondeau maintains that the strong support of MCCC faculty and staff made all the difference. "They always had something positive to say. Studying nursing was an internal battle for me. In Haiti, there are no male nurses; it was not acceptable. It is amazing to me that in America, hospitals and medical-related facilities are looking for male nurses. With an A.S. in nursing, I could get a job right away. I knew that would give me the opportunity to help support myself financially and my family members in Haiti."

A highlight of Renondeau's years at Mercer was participation in the Biomedical Careers Program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, an intensive six-week summer academic enrichment program. While there, his professional aspirations broadened as he shadowed a family physician, talked to various specialists about their careers, and began preparation for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) exam. Acceptance to the program was based on a recommendation from MCCC's PASS (Programs for Academic Services and Success) program counselor Kim Bowser, who also alerted him to the Ronald McNair program. In fact, at Mercer Renondeau received assistance as an EOF (Educational Opportunity Fund) student through PASS. According to PASS Director Khalida Haqq, "This is one of our responsibilities, to be informed about opportunities for our students and to encourage their participation. Ernst is one of our 'Shining Stars' and we are delighted by his achievement."

Renondeau's many accomplishments at Mercer included Dean's List status, membership in the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society and, following graduation, a one-year term as an alumni representative on MCCC's Board of Trustees.

"Mercer really opened my eyes to see what I can be," Renondeau said. "Sometimes people look for ways to see others fail. I use that negativity as a source of inspiration. I never want to let myself down. If you were to ask me five years ago if I would really be doing all of this, I would say that you are dreaming. God works in mysterious ways."

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