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Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 11:30am

Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. – May 14, 2014– Mercy College’s commencement exercises will take place:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 
Westchester County Center
198 Central Avenue
White Plains, NY 10606

Undergraduate Ceremony begins at 11 a.m. 
Graduate Degree Ceremony begins at 4 p.m.


***Student Speakers Available for Interview***


Undergraduate Valedictorian

Loren Eustaquio

For Loren Eustaquio her journey to Mercy College started a long way away from the United States. Eustaquio grew up in a small town in the Philippines. Her parents had always talked about moving to the United States but it seemed very out of reach. Finally, 20 years after her mother filed for visas’ - they were granted. Eustaquio moved to the United States a month after she started college in the Philippines with her mother, father and four sisters. With only a suitcase full of her most valuable possessions, she was compelled to restart her life and reestablish a home in New York. Faced with a different culture, new language, and financial difficulties, at the time she was convinced that she would never be able to go to college.

While she had always been a good student, Eustaquio was told her “English wasn’t good enough for college and certainly not good enough to be a biology major.” She said: “Mercy College looked into me and gave me a chance. They didn’t care about my accent.” Eustaquio said she learned fast and within a few months of starting college she was tutoring in Mercy’s learning center, teaching biology, chemistry and mathematics. Eustaquio was also a student intern at Pfizer Oncology Research Unit in Pearl River.

Eustaquio said: “If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I would be here I would have said never – never in New York and never at Mercy College. But, life has a way of throwing you off the path you planned – which isn’t always a bad thing.” 

Eustaquio, who now lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York, plans on a becoming an emergency room doctor. Her sister, Jill Eustaquio, is also graduating with her on May 21, 2014 summa cum laude.

Graduate School Valedictorian

Mayra Avila

School of Education valedictorian Mayra Avila is not only a 3 time Mercy College alumna, she is also the reigning Miss Westchester. Avila, who is a Ossining High School math teacher, was born in Ecuador and at the age of 4 came to the United States with her family. Avila said: “Growing up in an immigrant household my parents made it very clear that they expected great things from me. I had to be somebody!” Avila said she spent a long time fighting stereotypes as an Hispanic woman. She said her inspiration was her mother, Monica Avila, who went back to school as an adult.  “When she came to this country in 1989 she had three small children and a husband to look after but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her American dream of becoming an elementary school teacher,” said Avila. “I saw my father take several jobs to support the family financially while my mother enrolled at Mercy College.” Monica Avila   graduated with her undergraduate degree in 1999 and her graduate degree in education in 2001 from Mercy College.  

Avilia said: “My mother was right; education was going to be the key to success. Education unleashed qualities in me that I never had growing up such as confidence, fearlessness and courage. It was until I enrolled at Mercy College that I began to distinguished myself.”

Armed with self-confidence Avila said she finally felt mentally strong enough to go for the Miss Westchester title and in the summer of 2013 she won it. Avila said it was an honor to be part of a prestigious pageant that puts an emphasis on excellence, achievement and personal growth for a young woman.   Avila said, “I am very passionate about education because I believe that education should be open to all children regardless their backgrounds, financial needs or abilities.”

Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients 

The undergraduate speaker will be RPW Group Chairman and CEO Robert Weisz.   RPW Group, Inc. is the largest private owner of Class A office buildings in Westchester County, as well as one of the largest land holders owning in excess of 200 acres in Westchester, NY. RPW Group, Inc. is a fully integrated real estate organization providing ownership, in-house management, construction and maintenance of all of its buildings. Mr. Weisz serves on the Board of Directors of the Westchester County Association, New Rochelle Police Foundation, Arts of Westchester and Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce. He is also Chairman of the Board of Reaching U, a non-profit organization located in the U.S. which works for low-income mothers and children in Uruguay. The graduate speaker will be The Rt. Honorable Baroness Pauline Perry of Southark. Lady Perry is widely viewed in the United Kingdom as one the leading experts in Education, a fact ultimately recognized by her elevation to the House of Lords (UK’s Senate). She Chairs the Education Liaison Group in the Lords for the Conservative Party, which was formed to work with Ministers in the development and implementation of education policy for the country. She is a now a Conservative party whip, and has sat on several key Parliamentary Committees. She also served for 13 years as co-chair and founder of the all-party Parliamentary Universities Group which brings together the presidents of UK universities with members of Parliament. Prior to her Parliamentary tenure, Lady Perry was Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector for Education, Vice Chancellor (i.e. President) of South Bank University (London), and President of Lucy Cavendish College of Cambridge University.  Both Lady Perry and Weisz will receive Honorary Degrees at Commencement. Lady Perry will receive an Honorary Degree of Humane Letters and Weisz will receive an Honorary Degree of Commercial Science. 

*Reporters and photographers must check in to receive press credentials. Once check in is complete they will be free to move around the facility as they wish, but must not go onto the stage or interfere with the exercises in anyway. 

About Mercy College
Founded in 1950, Mercy College is a private, not-for-profit higher education institution that offers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs within five prestigious schools: Business, Education, Health and Natural Sciences, Liberal Arts and Social and Behavioral Sciences. Mercy College offers an engaging and personalized learning experience that includes the College’s revolutionary Personalized Achievement Contract (PACT) program. The Mercy College PACT is the first program of its kind and now serves as a nationally recognized model for mentoring. 877-MERCY-GO.