Alumni Spotlight Stories

Once Diverted from a Degree, Alexandra Day '10, '10, M.B.A. '16 Earns Three at Mercy

 

Alexandra Day found success at college the second time around. After spending four years at a private college in Pennsylvania, she found herself without a degree and with a need for a new direction. Oddly enough, it was another Mercy student – her mother, who would become her inspiration.

Her mother, Ruth Rivera, was then pursuing her own bachelor’s degree at Mercy and did not mince words. “I can remember her saying, ‘am I going to get my degree before you do?’” recalls Alexandra fondly. This gentle teasing, Alexandra says was her mother’s way of gentling guiding her back onto a firmer path. While in high school, Alexandra had envisioned herself going to law school, yet at 25, she found herself outpaced by those peers already working in their post-college career tract. It was time to try again.

Even without her mother for a study partner, Mercy with its convenient campus locations was an obvious choice and Alexandra enrolled. It was not without roadblocks. A few months after starting at Mercy, she was in a serious car accident.

While in the hospital, she discovered how much Mercy staff went out of their way to help her succeed. It was Director of Community Programs and Events, Lisa Mills-Campbell, then working in admissions, who helped ensure she not fall behind. “I had just gotten a chance to begin again so it was devastating,” said Alexandra “Lisa helped me believe I could do it, she helped me communicate with my professors while I was in the hospital.” Recovery was grueling, and Alexandra would return to campus with an eye patch, but a renewed sense of determination.

She more than proved herself, earning a scholarship to study abroad, and ultimately earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in Business Administration and one in Sociology. Mother and daughter would earn their bachelor’s degrees together, both graduating in 2010. “It was such a cool experience to be at each other’s graduations, so emotional for both of us,” said Alexandra. She and her mother would also both go on to earn their master’s degrees at Mercy, with her mother afterwards signing on as an adjunct faculty member.

Sadly, Ruth Rivera died of cancer a year ago, this past December, just after teaching her last Mercy classes. “All along my mom was an inspiration. Sometimes we were more like sisters than anything. She always believed in me,” said Alexandra.

Ruth’s dedication to teaching students is a direct influence on Alexandra today as she trains new employees in the Social Services Administration as a benefit authorizer training instructor. “Mentoring our trainees is kind of like teaching a class, so in a way my Mom is with me in my work as well,” said Alexandra.

Alexandra encourages others in this fierce and uncertain job market to open their eyes to the opportunities in federal work. “I’m a huge advocate of careers in the federal government. They offer benefits and opportunities not available in other jobs,” said Alexandra. She explains that for people of color, like herself, the need to have diversity in roles serving the public is incredibly essential. Today, she looks back at her detour from completing her higher education and has no regrets. “Mercy gave me a way to be myself, and perhaps it was that for my Mom too. It was a place where we both were nurtured.”