Josefina Mercedes Is BCC’s Salutatorian

May 10, 2010 | Bronx Community College

Josefina Mercedes is Bronx Community College’s salutatorian.  Second to the valedictorian of the class of 2010, Mercedes, a paralegal major, had a grade point average of 3.963.

 “I am so excited, I just can’t stop telling my friends and family,” states Mercedes. “My mom and older sister are especially proud. I worked hard for my grades and I am glad that I am getting recognition. Being the salutatorian is placing a name and title to my hard work.”  

As a BCC student, Mercedes appreciates the professors at the College the most.   She asserts that the professors work hard to prepare students to enter the real world by teaching the necessary skills.  “Professor Elizabeth Taylor was one of my all-time favorites,” says Mercedes. “She teaches law, and she is a Supreme Court judge who I also interned for.  As a professor, she taught me how to think. As a judge, she taught me that people can be anything they set their minds to.” Mercedes also acknowledges Political Science Professor Peter Kolozi as another of her favorite instructors. He reinforced that her thoughts mattered. The potential he saw in her inspired her to do better and always strive for the best possible grades.  

Mercedes admits that arguing comes naturally to her. She has always wanted to be a lawyer in a prestigious law firm.  In 15 years, she hopes to have her own law firm.

Mercedes first came to BCC in 2005. After two semesters, she left to have a child. She returned in fall 2008. “I was 23 years old when I decided to go back to college. My daughter was 3½ years old, and I felt that I was mentally prepared to handle and juggle work, school and my family.”

Mercedes now has a son.  She left a full-time job (working 45 hours a week) with the Europa Café to work at Pax Wholesome Foods as a cashier.  The new job allowed her more flexibility for school and family. “It’s been extremely hard bringing up kids and going to college because I have always struggled to maintain my GPA,” explains Mercedes. “Balancing work and college makes it difficult to always know whether I am being the best possible mother as well as a good role model for my children. But I have instilled in my daughter the drive and determination to succeed in school.”

Mercedes plans to take next semester off to make sure that her son enters the right school. Then she plans to enroll in a four-year college for the spring of 2011. “My first choice is City College because of the Skadden Arps Honors Legal Studies Program. My second choice is to study criminal law at John Jay,” states Mercedes.

Ever since she was a young girl, her parents have always emphasized the importance of going to school and getting an education. “My parents are from the Dominican Republic and when they were young they did not have the opportunity to finish school or even get to college. They brought my siblings and me to the United States in 1987, when I was 4 years old. As I have gone through the education system, my parents have been my strength.”  Her mother is naturally very proud. Her father passed away last year in February. “It has been difficult, but I know that I must continue and graduate because my dad would be proud.”

Founded in 1957, Bronx Community College (BCC), the oldest of City University of New York’s six community colleges, serves as the engine for academic and economic mobility for motivated students from diverse backgrounds and preparations. More than 11,000 students from over 109 nations are enrolled in 30 associate degree and certificate programs including Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Computer Graphics, Nuclear Medicine, and Business Administration, Digital Arts, Computer Information Systems, Education Associate, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, Liberal Arts, Marketing, Accounting, Human Services, Media Technology and Paralegal Studies. BCC’s 43-acre campus, high above the Harlem River, features architectural masterpieces of Stanford White and Marcel Breuer, as well as the Hall of Fame of Great Americans, the nation’s first hall of fame. BCC President Carolyn G. Williams is in her 14th year of leadership service to the College, which is located on a 43-acre campus at 2155 University Avenue at West 181st Street , formerly New York University’s uptown campus until 1973.

The College is home to initiatives not commonly associated with two-year institutions, such as the Center for Sustainable Energy, which promotes the use of renewable and efficient energy technologies in urban communities. The National Center for Educational Alliances (NCEA) ) is currently collaborating with South African Further Education and Training Colleges and universities to create linkages between these institutions and is also working to enhance student and academic support at the colleges.. NCEA also coordinates the College’s global initiative which facilitates global learning within and outside of the classroom.

Bryant Mason / (718) 289-5208 / bryant.mason@bcc.cuny.edu