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Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - 3:30pm
Dobbs Ferry Campus

Over 150 students from Mercy College and local school districts attended the annual CSTEP/STEP Career Day on Saturday, February 9. The event aimed to expose students in the Collegiate Science Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) and the Science Technology Entry Program (STEP) to a variety of professions and give them the opportunity to speak with professionals.

“I wanted to hear other people’s stories and how they got to where they are in their lives,” explained Mercy CSTEP student Jasmine Billingy.

CSTEP’s goal is to increase the number of historically underrepresented students who complete their coursework and go on to pursue careers in science, math, technology, the health professions and other licensed professional careers. CSTEP students can access all kinds of services and benefits, such as academic and career advising, educational workshops, internship and research opportunities, tuition reimbursement for a summer course at Mercy and a loan program for textbooks and laptops. STEP gives middle and high school students in the Ossining, Peekskill and Tarrytown school districts opportunities to explore careers in STEM and licensed professions.

Perseverance was a theme that came up repeatedly throughout Career Day. After a light breakfast, students heard from Asha Castleberry, a U.S. Army veteran who now teaches foreign policy at The George Washington University. Drawing on her own struggles in high school, she explained that even if students are not doing well academically, what matters is what they do about it moving forward.

Next, 23 professionals met with small groups of students in 15-minute rotations to talk about their career paths and the work they do. They represented a wide variety of professions including nurse, hospice worker, medical student, accountant, entrepreneur, detective, chemist, underwriter and others who work in marketing, publishing, energy and technology. “The conversations were deep,” said Julie Arias, associate director of STEP and CSTEP at Mercy. “Everyone was so focused and really listening. Several of the professionals shared that even though they knew that they wanted to go into a certain career, they had to overcome challenges to get there, like perhaps they struggled in a class or someone told them they weren't good enough. They kept working, and eventually they persevered. It was really motivating for the students to hear messages like this.”

Billingy enjoyed the subsequent panel in which seven of the professionals answered students’ questions. “Several of the professionals shared stories about hitting dead ends or feeling doubtful about where they were going,” she recounted. “But they said not to doubt yourself. I’ve always been afraid to ask for help, but now I’m going to get out of my bubble and start asking for help. I’m majoring in vet tech, and there happens to be an animal shelter right up the road, so one thing I’m going to do is reach out to see if I can volunteer or even get a job there.”

Arias reports that she and Barbara Jones-Jones — director of STEP and CSTEP at Mercy — were very pleased with the event’s turnout and the positive feedback from students.

Mercy students interested in applying to CSTEP are encouraged to fill out an application or contact CSTEP staff.

Students Explore Careers in STEM and Licensed Professions at CSTEP/STEP Career Day