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Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - 3:45pm

In May, Esmeralda Chikoti ’20 joined the ranks of proud Mercy graduates when she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology.

But she is no typical undergraduate about to go out into the world for the first time. Chikoti is 60 years old with a grown family and an established career.

Several years ago, she came to the United States from Angola to work at the Consulate General of Angola. It was always her goal to pursue higher education, but earlier in her life she was focused on her career and raising her children. When her children grew up, she realized that she had the time and desire to pursue an undergraduate degree. 

“I think education never finishes,” she said. “Wherever we are, we need to improve ourselves. I also wanted to be marketable. I didn’t want to be stuck in a place where the world is evolving around me, and I’m stuck. Going back to school opens up a lot of avenues. It changes your perspective.”

Understandably, Chikoti did feel some trepidation about continuing her education after such a long time: “Going back at a mature age, I was a little bit intimidated because I realized that I was going to be in class with younger people who are faster at catching things.” She was also concerned about language barriers since English is not her first language.

But her experience at Mercy turned out to be better than she could have ever imagined: “The students are helpful. And the professors have been fantastic, pushing us on and encouraging us.” Her prior work experience in technology even gave her a leg up in mastering the software and tools she needed to use to complete her coursework.

Chikoti also leaned on her family who were extremely supportive of her return to school: “My children were so elated. They were my cheerleaders. They were the ones who were buying me the books online when I didn’t understand something. They’d work it out for me. So it’s been teamwork.”

Chikoti hopes that her experience might encourage someone else to return to school later in life. “It’s just been a wonderful journey,” she explained.

Click here to watch an interview with Chikoti and learn more about her experience.