Mariella DiStefano, Biology, Class of 2020
Eastern University was simply not on Mariella DiStefano’s radar in high school. But after considering a range of options from community college to going straight into ministry work, it was her history teacher—an Eastern University graduate himself—who told her that she’d be a great fit at his alma mater. A visit to the EU booth at a college fair later sealed the deal. Mariella already knew she wanted to focus on the sciences, and for her, Eastern University was “the only option that offered both a strong science department” and the chance to dig deep into her biblical studies. Mariella thrived at Eastern University.
Mariella is a first-generation college student who juggles life as a very engaged member of the Eastern community while caring for an ill family member. She describes her path from entering college unsure of her academic focus to settling on biology as her major. “I started off in the pre-nursing track,” she explains, “but decided it wasn’t for me. Eastern has been so helpful in that academic transformation…everyone is so intentional about listening to your passions, recognizing your strengths, and helping you expand your horizons.”
In fact, Eastern University has been opening doors for Mariella since the beginning. When she was accepted, she was also notified that she received a place in the Leadership Fellows Program, which is designed to advance and support students’ understanding and demonstration of servant leadership within the Eastern community and the global community at large. “It is a very formative experience,” Mariella says. “Through this program, you’re taught leadership theory through the lens of servant leadership. I was inspired to become a student chaplain, and through that experience, discovered my love for listening to others.”
Although she’s still undecided on her exact path post-graduation, Mariella is certain of one thing: that she’ll “continue to be a servant leader” with the skills she learned while a student at Eastern University—whether that be within a research lab, a classroom, or anything else she sets her mind to. “I’ll be able to lead,” she says with confidence, “lead alongside them and walk through life together with people.”