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Monday, October 17, 2016 - 3:30pm
Dobbs Ferry Campus


U.S. Congresswoman Nita Lowey visited Mercy College’s Dobbs Ferry campus to announce a $4,029,506 grant from the U. S. Department of Education (ED) Hispanic Serving Institution - Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (HSI STEM) and Articulation Program for Mercy College; funding for the grant's first year amounts to $696,572. This funding, coming during the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, will help create Team STEM, a five-year joint program between Mercy College and Westchester Community College (WCC) focused on supporting Hispanic and/or low-income undergraduates complete bachelor’s degrees in one of six STEM disciplines offered at Mercy College within six years. Students studying in biology, psychology, mathematics, computer science, computer information science or cybersecurity will be able to participate in targeted advising, mentoring and research activities designed to improve academic outcomes and long-range success.


At the press conference, Lowey spoke on the importance of STEM education “Educating more students in STEM fields is one of the most productive steps we can take to strengthen our economy. I’m pleased that Mercy College and Westchester Community College are using these federal dollars to address a growing need for STEM professionals in the Hudson Valley. As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will continue working to provide students of all backgrounds with the resources they need to succeed in a dynamic, globalized workforce.”


“We are grateful for this grant and for the support we receive from Congresswoman Lowey. We are a proud Hispanic serving institution, and these dollars will allow Mercy College to open the minds of so many of our students.  With knowledge and motivation, the possibilities are endless,” said Mercy College President Tim Hall.


Westchester Community College Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Peggy Bradford also spoke at the event. “Westchester Community College is uniquely positioned to help our many talented Hispanic and underrepresented students pursue STEM careers. The college’s partnership with Mercy College and our seven StepUP high schools will provide rigorous academic preparation for successful transition into college and transfer into baccalaureate degree programs. We are proud to work with Mercy College to increase access and success to STEM careers for all of those who seek relevant education, including Hispanic and low-income students.”


Mercy College senior and biology major Christian Castillo also addressed the audience. “Currently, I’m assisting in the research labs under Dr. Layton, whom I’ve worked with in the past in developmental biology and during the STEM summer program. Without STEM, this would not have been possible,” said Castillo.


On the importance of this grant, Castillo explained it’s a path to a rewarding and successful career. “STEM allows students to have a gateway into their STEM field of choice and this is most important. It allows students the opportunity to become affiliated with their field of study and to engage with the skilled faculty we have here at Mercy. Just as STEM propagated my interest in research, STEM will fuel other peoples’ interests as well. This grant will allow Mercy to collaborate with Westchester Community College and form a team to continue to fuel students’ passions in the STEM fields and support their goals for the future.”


To see more coverage of the event, visit for News 12’s coverage and for Fios 1.


This project will be under the direction of Professor of Mathematics Nagaraj Rao.  He will be assisted by a team of faculty including Anthony Canger, Rebecca Trenz, Davida Smyth, Mary Knopp Kelly, Renee Haskew-Layton and Narasim Banavara as well as many other staff members. 


Rao is excited about the new possibilities this grant opens for students, “As a Hispanic Serving Institution committed to providing students the opportunity to transform their lives through student-centered learning environments, Mercy College is thrilled to receive this award from the U.S. Department of Education.  Innovative program activities will allow us to serve our students and help them succeed in STEM majors.  Students will be prepared for rewarding careers in science, technology, or mathematics as well as for graduate school education.”

To read more about coverage of the event, visit: