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NEA Big Read - Mercy University

NEA Big Read Logo

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), in partnership with Arts Midwest, has awarded Mercy University a $8700.00 NEA Big Read grant to support the Mercy University Big Read, a dynamic, community-wide reading program offering an author talk, book discussions, cultural events, workshops, and special presentations in Westchester, the Bronx, Manhattan and virtually.    

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.  The program is designed to broaden our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. 

Infinite Country

Book Selection

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

Companion Reads

Clap when you land

Young Adult Read

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo


Children’s Read

Areli is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient

About the Authors

Patricia Engel headshot

Patricia Engel

Author of Infinite Country

Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo

Author of Clap When You Land

Areli Morales

Areli Morales

Author of Areli is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient 

Mercy University Community

The twenty miles between Mercy University’s three campuses are home to some of the country’s most diverse communities, including the local metropolitan statistical area with the nation’s largest number of Colombian Americans, not to mention many other Latino populations. Westchester County, where Mercy’s main campus is based, is home to a growing Latino population (27 percent as of the 2020 Census), and, of course, the neighborhoods that surround our Bronx and Manhattan campuses are rich in their diversity as well. The Big Read gives Mercy University an opportunity to deepen our identity as a federally-designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). For our student population – the majority of whom commute to campus and balance their schoolwork with considerable outside responsibilities – we expect the book will resonate and be a source of hope and connection. Furthermore, we will seek to create a wide multicultural community of readers with events across our area, bringing together readers of all ages, citizenship statuses, family types, academic affiliations, and races and ethnicities. 

Mercy University Big Read Community Partners

Dobbs Ferry Public Library: 

Greenburgh Public Library: 

HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities): 

LUCA (Latino U College Access): 

100 Hispanic Women: 

Westchester Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: 

Partnership for After School Education (PASE): 


Art in the Lab: 

Alina Celeste: 

Mercy University Big Read Events

  • Saturday, September 24, 2022 1-5 pm, Dobbs Ferry Campus: NEA Big Read-Mercy University Kick Off and Book Giveaway at Founder’s Day Festival  

  • Wednesday, September 28, 2022 4-5 pm, Dobbs Ferry and Virtually: Author Patricia Engel will discuss why she chose to tell this story and how her identity informs her writing.  There will also be an opportunity for Q&A with the audience.  Moderated by Mercy University Professor of English, Celia Reissig-Vasile. To register please click HERE

  • Saturday, October 1, Virtual: Launch of Mercy University Alumni Book Discussion of "Infinite Country"  

  • Wednesday, October 26, 7 pm - 9 pm, Dobbs Ferry Public Library: Panel Discussion of the Latinx Immigrant Experience in collaboration with Dobbs Ferry Public Library

  • Saturday, November 12, 2 -3 pm, Greenburgh Public Library: Book Discussion and Giveaway of our Young Adult companion read "Clap When You Land" in collaboration with Greenburgh Public Library. To register click HERE.

  • Saturday, November 12, 11 am - 1 pm, Dobbs Ferry Public Library: Book Reading and Giveaway of our Children's companion read "Areli is a Dreamer" in collaboration with the Dobbs Ferry Public Library.  Dobbs Ferry Children's Librarian Ms. Gina will be leading a bilingual storytime of "Areli is a Dreamer" by Areli Morales in partnership with local mom and educator Danielle Bello, who will be reading the story in Spanish. The story will be followed by an arts and crafts activity where we reflect on our own identities and family stories.

  • Tuesday, November 15, 1-2 pm, Virtual: Inquiring Minds Mercy University DEI Faculty Book Club Discussion of "Infinite Country" 

  • Thursday, November 17, 10:30 am - 11:30 am, Bronx Campus: Special Presentation by Mercy University Assistant Professor of Nursing, Miriam Ford on Health and Wellness at the Border. 

  • Saturday, November 19, 10 am - 12 pm, Greenburgh Public Library: Book Discussion of "Infinite Country" in collaboration with Greenburgh Public Library. To register click HERE.

  • Thursday, December 8, 2:30 pm - 5 pm, Manhattan Campus: Film Screening of Blast Beat and Discussion
  • Saturday, December 10, 9:30 am - 11 am, Greenburgh Public Library: Digital Story Workshop led by Professors Ilene Rothschild and Sabrina Timperman
  • Saturday, January 28, 11 am – 12 pm, Greenburgh Public Library: Special Presentation on Immigration and Law by Robin Bikkal, collaboration with Greenburgh Public Library. T
  • Special Presentation on the Social and Political History of Colombia by Mercy University Assistant Professor of History, Andres Matias-Ortiz 

Thursday, February 4-5 pm: Heritage Concert 

  • Manhattan Campus: Student Book Discussion of Infinite Country in collaboration with HACU, PASE and YouthBridge-NY 

  • Special Presentation on Latinx Student Identity in the US by Mercy University Assistant Professor of Literacy and Multilingual Studies, Victoria Nunez 

  • Virtual: Women’s History Month Book Discussion of Infinite Country in collaboration with 100 Hispanic Women and Mercy’s Women Leadership 
  • Virtual: Global Honors Program Book Discussion of Infinite Country in collaboration with LUCA 

  • Virtual: Art in the Lab Workshop