Evelisse Mercado, who graduated in May 2013 from the School of Education’s combined degree program with a BA in Childhood Education (and a concentration in English) and a MSEd in Special Education, has always been on the path to stand in front of a classroom. As a high school student, she was active in Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Teachers, a non-profit career development organization that supports and mentors culturally diverse high school students as they progress through college to become teachers and leaders in their community. It was in TSTT that Mercado learned about the Pace University School of Education and knew she found her perfect match.
The early college fieldwork experience at Pace helped this new educator know that she was on the right professional path. “After learning that Pace ‘throws us into the fire’ early in our college career, I knew I had to jump into this opportunity,” she said. “Many of my friends who studied education at other universities did not start [fieldwork or] student teaching until their junior or senior year.”
Mercado found the School of Education program to be “rigorous, challenging, and rewarding.” Time management and organization were crucial to her academic success and balance. “Prioritizing and organizing are key skills that need to be applied accordingly in the field of education and in our lives!” she shares. In addition, “the coursework was evidently relevant and it was gratifying to apply the knowledge I learned from my professors into my student teaching placement.”
Throughout her years of study at Pace, Mercado’s personal educational philosophy and vision has matured. She wants to do more than “make a difference.”
“My educational philosophy has evolved into believing that I can perpetuate knowledge and inspire learning,” she says. “I truly believe that every student is capable of tasting the extreme passion I have for education by becoming collaborators in the exploration of new discoveries.”
“Every student has unique and creative capabilities that can be shared with others in the classroom, if given the appropriate support,” Mercado says.
SOE professors Sister M. St. John and Ainsley Adams had a great impact on Mercado, and she credits both with opening the door to new opportunities to grow as a student and educator. Sr. St. John mentored Mercado as a tutor at the Center for Literacy Enrichment and in her role as secretary of Pi Lambda Theta. Additionally, Mercado was one of six School of Education students to travel to Guatemala in February 2013 with Professor Adams, to present at a literacy conference in Guatemala City and interact with local schools there in a culturally immersive experience.
She credits both professors as life-changing, challenging her to participate in “experiences [that] were truly eye opening.”
“I’ve gained an immense amount of knowledge from these two amazing people,” Mercado reflects. “It is truly a blessing to have them in my life.”
Mercado credits the high value placed on education by her family as guiding her into teaching. The importance of education she was raised with is a tenet she hopes to share with the students she will be working with at PS 35 Franz Siegel Elementary School, in the Bronx this fall. She will be the general education teacher in a third grade ICT (inclusion) class.
“Being educated is an important gift that will follow you forever and it will never be taken away from you,” she says. “I want to help children discover their true value in society, even if they have been told otherwise.”
Mercado is looking at the experience as one of continual reflection and personal development as an educator and leader. “I am excited for the end of the year, just so I can sit back and reflect on how much I’ve positively changed since the very beginning,” she said in August, just before the start of the 2013-2014 school year.
As a new graduate about to enter the classroom, she was happy to share words of advice with School of Education candidates who might be anxious about the future.
“Be extremely patient, with everything!” she says. “Finding a job is less than half the battle, in that we now have to be patient with our colleagues, parents, the education system, our students, and ourselves.”
“We must always remember to stay true to our creative teaching ways,” she continues. “Also, it is always great to read at least one professional book a year, [so] we can continuously be inspired. Always remember that there are students out there waiting for you. Just give it time.”