Lusene Donzo started life in the US as a, refugee, from Liberia. After arriving in America he enlisted in the, US Army, and began, training his mind, to live his, calling. Listen to Lusene’s story of how he overcame a grand mal seizure, living on, welfare, to find success in the, army, as well as an entrepreneur and speaker.
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Lusene grew up in Monrovia, Liberia, and came to America as a refugee 17 years ago. October 20, 2016 his life changed forever where he ended up having a grand mal seizure and ended up in a coma. He quickly realized that tomorrow is not promised and as long as you have life you should chase after your dreams and things that matter.
He later graduated from Virginia State University as a computer science major, commissioned in the US Army in 2018. Today Lusene is an author, speaker, credit consultant and a United States Army Officer who loves empowering people and helping them build their credit. Lusene is the author of “The Power of Determination: Train Your Mind To Live Your Calling
Myrna: We are witnessing a war in, Ukraine, at this moment, I’m having chills now just thinking about it. We all know that the life of those, refugees, are not going to be easy. Right now, they don’t know where they’re going to be living or how they’re going to eat. So, your journey is an interesting one to talk about in this climate. Tell us, your story.
Lusene: So, originally, I grew up in Liberia, at the age of six, in 1990, Liberia had a civil war. I was born in 92. So I was born during the height of the Civil War. And I remember at the age of four or five years old that we would have rebels coming up coming the house and my mother at the time, she would hide me on the ceiling from the rebels, because they were looking for young men to fight the war. Children are the easiest individuals to take advantage of.
So my mom would always hide me, up in the ceiling, just to make sure they don’t find out that she has a male child. She eventually gave me to my grandmother to go live in a village in a different country, Guinea. So I lived in Guinea for about two years. It was a lot of struggle there we used so to eat in the same bowl. We all used to play together. It was more family, but it was a lot of struggle because at the time I didn’t know who my father was.
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I didn’t have my mother, I was just living with my grandmother and all my cousins and we were fighting to eat food. So it was it was one of those things that when I look back, at the position that I’m in right now, I am so humbled because especially I can resonate with what some of the individuals in, Ukraine, are going through because being a, refugee, is something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
So once I left Guinea, I went to Ivory Coast, there was a civil war in the Ivory Coast and everyone that was not Liberian they were trying to kick them out the country. You needed this thing called les de Paseo, which is kind of like in America, a green card to stay in the country. America had a resettlement program for, refugees, in Ivory Coast to bring them to the states so my family applied. Nine months later, we ended up coming to America as, refugees. Initially we were on, welfare, collecting checks, food stamps, and all that, but eventually my mother got off, welfare.
Training the mind to get off welfare
Myrna: That is such a beautiful story. I came from Guyana, we weren’t that poor, but it’s still a third world country. I had the opportunity to go to Canada. That’s what’s got me out of my poverty. And then I ended up coming to United States. I support a charity that’s called food for the poor. And one of the things that they show are the kids in Africa eating from one bowl of rice. Oh my God, it breaks my heart. So you went through all that and then you ended up with a grand mal seizure? How did that happen?
Lusene: So after I came here, I moved around a little bit, and I moved to Philadelphia, I was living with my uncle in Philadelphia, where I graduated high school. I was working while in college, I was working a lot. I was, training the mind, by working hard and being determined to get off, welfare. I was working about 18 hours, I had school, I had ROTC, I was the Army Reserve. I was just doing too much.
I ended up having a seizure because I wasn’t getting adequate amount of sleep. I wasn’t eating a lot of nutrients. So my brain went into a shock and I ended up having a coma. I had a seizure initially, where I broke my left shoulder while I was sleeping, I then had a grand mal seizure, at the hospital. The seizure was so bad that I ended up in a coma for about six to eight hours.
Myrna: How old were you then?
Lusene: 24 years old.
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The Army trains you mentally and builds character
Myrna: Wow, so somebody told you about hard work, you came to America and you worked. It’s one of the things that immigrants do. You know, we’re not lazy. You’re trying to make it in this world and overworked yourself. Alright, but again, all our experiences in life are guiding us through something and what that you said in your bio. What you realized after this happened to you is that tomorrow is not promised and you should chase your dreams. So why did you decide to go in the, army?
Lusene: One of the main reasons I decided to join the, military, was because I wanted to challenge myself as an individual. Prior to joining the, army, I realized that I wasn’t challenging myself while I was living my life. And one of the things I realized that a lot of successful people have trials and tribulation, but they get through things that challenge them.
I joined the, army, because I looked at myself in the mirror and saw that I was not mentally where I needed to be. I wanted to develop my character to become better. So that’s one of the main reasons why I joined the, army. I think the, army, has been a blessing to me because it has helped me to be very resilient in everything that I do.
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Training the mind to become present
After I had the seizure, the doctors told me that I should give up on all my dreams because I was disabled and would stay on welfare since I would not be able to get a normal job. And that never resonated with me because I looked at myself in a mirror and, trained my mind, to become present. I said I did not come to this land of opportunity to be on, welfare.
So I challenged what the doctor told me. I started to, train the mind, with, meditation, until I was able to get off my seizure meditation. I told the doctors I did not want to stay on a seizure medication. I have a dream and I will return to the, army.
Another blessing was the fact that because I was in the, army, they paid for my medical bills which was over $350,000. I told my physical therapist, I can overcome this, I’m already, resilient. I’ve been through so much as a, refugee, so much, mental training, in the, army. I didn’t come to America to collect a disability check.
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Training the mind to build character
Myrna: Your first goal was that you recognized that you wanted to, train the mind, and you wanted to build your, character, and that’s why you went into the, army. And I’m understanding why the doctor was thinking that you would always be on disability because normally the cause of a seizure is something mental. And maybe he diagnosed that you’re always gonna have seizures.
Lusene: To, train the mind, to build, character, I asked myself:
- How determined Are you?
- How bad do you want to establish yourself?
- How bad do you want to tell the world your story?
- How bad do you want to write a book?
- How bad do you want to set yourself up for success outside of the, army?
And that’s where my, determination, came from because I kept on talking to myself. I kept on repeating affirmations. I kept on turning down all the haters and naysayers that were saying I’m too young, I don’t have any credibility. And one of the things I realized is how can you get, credibility, if you don’t have a product? The best way to have, credibility, is what to get, credibility, so you have to start something.
Myrna: You were in the, army, and wanted to have a job outside the, military?
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Lusene: Yes, I’ve always had multiple jobs even while I was in college. So I was never used to having one source of income, but it was a little difficult, with senior leaders constantly discouraging you and telling you that you cannot do this because you don’t have the, credibility, because in the, army, your rank is low.
Myrna: So what is it that you wanted to go after? Is that your credit consulting business?
Lusene: One of my ultimate dreams is to become the number one speaker on the planet, but the credit counselling business came very easy to me. I wanted to chase my dream of, entrepreneurship, and at the time, I didn’t have a product. So, I actually enrolled in Eric Thomas program, and one of the things he said was the best way to get credibility, was to write a book.
I started researching things that came very easy to me and, how to build credit, was very easy because I took my credit score from about 585 to 840 in 18 months. I realize this was an amazing accomplishment, and I said to myself, I have a skill that can teach other people. I started teaching people, how to build credit, for free and when I had 20 clients, I started charging and then eventually I went ahead and got certified. Check out my credit counselling course @
Myrna: Okay that’s awesome, I love that determination.
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How the army trains the mind
You book is about, training your mind, to achieve your calling. How did the, army, train your mind?
Lusene: So this is how the, army, train the mind. When you first get into the, army, you go through this thing called reception and immediately they tell you drop your bags, and you have sergeants yelling at you telling you what to do trying to break you. They tell you this is what you’re gonna do, they strip out all the civilian out of you. They now tell you, you are no longer a civilian. You are in the, US army, you’re a, soldier.
Now you’re going to be told what to do. Once you have acknowledged that, some people don’t, some people do. But once you have acknowledged that now they tell you to call your parents let them know you’re safe. You’re now in basic training. They’re now telling you when to wake up, when to go to bed, when to have personal hygiene and all those things.
Why the army trains the mind
The reason why the, army, train the mind, is to condition you as a, soldier. You’re going to be told to execute missions from higher officers, so they start, training the mind, on accepting orders in basic training. The first thing that the, military teaches you, is you have an assigned weapon. When you have an assigned weapon, what that does is that teaches you how to take care of something that you’re going to use to eventually kill someone.
So you’re going to learn everything about that weapon, because at the end of the day, if you’re deployed and your weapon jams, you have to know how to fix the malfunction. That could save your life.
After you learn how to take care of your weapon, you start training your legs. The, army, trains your mental toughness because they want you to be, resilient. They want you to be mentally fit, so when you’re tired, you stay sharp. You’re going through this training in the span of eight to nine weeks, where you’re waking up at four in the morning, you’re sleep deprived, and you haven’t seen your family, you don’t talk to your family, and you’re constantly being challenged.
That is how the, army, train the mind. You’re constantly waking up at 4 am in the morning, you’re constantly going to bed exactly at 9 pm, you have to make up your bed. You have to make sure your bed is detailed. You have to make sure your laundry is done. You have to make sure your lockers are clean. Don’t say these are small things. They’re, train the mind, to be a, US soldier.
You can take those lessons and you can apply them in your personal life or whatever it is that you want to do in your career.
Myrna: I absolutely love it. I read a few books on the Navy Seals training, but they, train the mind, of every, soldier.
The Power of Determination: Training the mind to live your calling
Tell us about your book why you wrote it and what you want the readers to walk away with.
Lusene: The book: The Power of Determination: Training the mind to live your calling tells the story of what I went through as a, refugee, being abused by an uncle who was mentally and physically abusive, joining the, army, having a seizure while in the, army, and still ended up enrolling myself in a speaker program. I talk about my credit program and , how to build credit, and give steps to help you, repair your credit.
The reason why you should get the book, it’s a highlight my story of all the things that I went through, all the trials and tribulation, just to stay on course and stay, determined. I think one of the most important things in life is for you to literally, train the mind, to find your, calling. I wanted to, train the mind, to live my, calling, because I believe that every single one of us have a, purpose. We all have a, calling. And my, calling, is to inspire millions of people around the world by speaking. Check out Lusene on his website https://lusenedonzo.com/ and follow him on instagram @lusene2motivate