When Berekia Divanga, ’19, moved from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, to Raleigh in 2012, she brought her ambition and determination. Double majoring in environmental sustainability and economics, she found Raleigh to be environmentally friendly and abuzz with new opportunities to flourish.
As an active member of Black Student Union (BSU) and Meredith International Association (MIA), Berekia has found a community, a place where can she thrive.
“I’ve enjoyed being involved in MIA because it has allowed me to learn more about other countries from the perspective of those who call these countries home,” said Berekia. “I have felt more empowered through BSU. One BSU event that I will never forget, even after leaving Meredith, would be the Black Excellence Dinner. I truly felt inspired and motivated to pursue my goal, insist for a ‘yes,’ and embrace challenges.”
For Berekia, her determined and persistent spirit is her biggest strength. “On numerous occasions, I have found myself doubting my ability to accomplish something,” said Berekia. “I have sat through many talks on how I had chosen the wrong major, and I’ve had numerous job and internship interviews end with rejections that made me feel like a failure. Although this was all very discouraging, I didn’t let them make me forget who I am or what my purpose is.”
She persisted and opted to believe in her own ability and her success. In the summer of 2018, she accepted an offer to work as a community asset analyst intern for Triangle Land Conservancy after receiving numerous internship offers.
“My project was on doing an economic evaluation of a preserve, using more than one economic evaluation method for recreational sites,” said Berekia. “I was able to perform my job well because I was well-taught about the process here at Meredith and had class projects that challenged me and enriched my knowledge. My on-campus job as a student assistant for the foreign languages and literatures (FLL) department has prepared me for a professional work environment.”
Berekia is grateful to the Meredith faculty and staff for their support and for recognizing her potential. She is especially appreciative of Erin Lindquist, Mary Doyle, and Tomecca Sloane for pushing her beyond her comfort zone and trusting her ability to accomplish difficult tasks.
“Dr. Lindquist made me understand that in order to succeed, I have to get out of my comfort zone and do what is difficult,” said Berekia. “[Mary] has been the best supervisor that I could have asked for, and she’s trusted my abilities to accomplish difficult tasks. Tomecca has also been my rock. She’s encouraged me to do more and fight for what I believe is right.”
Berekia is also appreciative of Veronique Machelidon and her strength coach, Candice Webb, for providing opportunities and valuable career insight. “Dr. Machelidon saw that I am fluent in both French and English and recommended that I apply for both the student assistant position with FLL and the French to English translator job with Dr. Grimes,” said Berekia. “Candice has explained how I could apply my top five strengths in any environment, but she’s also showed me how my strengths could be an obstacle in certain circumstances.”
Berekia has learned so much about herself while at Meredith. As she applies to jobs and graduate schools, she’s prepared to embark on life with a newfound knowledge and anticipation.
“I have learned that I am capable of more than I think and that there’s nothing that can weaken my belief without my permission,” said Berekia. “I have become more resilient. I used to let any bad day and/or experience drag me down for weeks, but now, I simply learn from the experience, eat some cheesecake, and move on.”
By Nikkia Wertz, ’19
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