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."
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.
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.
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
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."
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."