Starting college can be a hectic time. There’s a lot to process — what classes to take? How hard is the work? What’s there to do outside of class? Those were some of the things freshman Alexandrya McKenzie-Laury ’22 thought about before starting Mercy College.
“In high school everyone tells you that college can be scary, tons of work, all this pressure, but Mercy is so much better than I expected college to be,” said McKenzie-Laury.
For the biology major the workload is manageable, even with being in the STEM Scholars and Honors programs.
“You do something different every day, there’s more time to process and more time to work on things. It’s a much calmer environment than I expected, and more supportive, too. It’s not everyone trying to get ahead for themselves, everyone here wants to grow together and it’s a team,” said McKenzie-Laury.
An important part of that team for her is PACT Mentor Christina Locario.
“She’s been with me the whole way,” said McKenzie-Laury. “Christina checks up on me, makes sure I’m ok and helps me get things done. I thought it would be scary at first, but then I met her and it’s great knowing I have someone to go to for anything.”
Participating in STEM Scholars and the Honors Program has also been a rewarding experience for McKenzie-Laury.
“For STEM Scholars we went on a trip to a marsh and learned about the Hudson River plankton and how the water gets it color. It really intrigued me, I didn’t know I’d be doing so much hands-on stuff so soon,” said McKenzie-Laury.
After graduating, McKenzie-Laury plans to go onto graduate studies and become a doctor — an obstetrician-gynecologist to be exact. Studying marshes and plankton may seem to not be related to that goal, but McKenzie-Laury thinks otherwise.
“It made me more excited about my field— learning about the world around us not just the human body. You get to see how everything connects and you’re surrounded by people who are as equally ambitious as you are. It’s just a really positive, inspiring atmosphere,” said McKenzie-Laury.
In the Honors Program, she’s had the chance to get involved with volunteering which she’s found to be beneficial.
“It helps you learn who you are and sets you up for the real world. You become more active, exposed to new people and ideas. It also makes you feel good to be working on a goal and helping others,” said McKenzie-Laury.
That connection to others and helping the community is part of what inspired her to pursue biology.
“To be able to become an OB-GYN and learn more to help people means a lot to me. Everyday issues like infertility affect a lot of people and we need more doctors and research,” said McKenzie-Laury.
For McKenzie-Laury college has been a time of exploring new pursuits, but also realizing the importance of a support network.
“My mom went to college and she made sure me and my little brother were going to go to college and be ready. She knew it was the way to a good career,” said McKenzie-Laury.
At Mercy, her supports include her professors and PACT Mentor, who have been important in maintaining her sense of balance and motivation.
“I want people to know it’s ok to ask for help, even in college. It’s not such an individual thing, of course you become independent, but it’s ok to have people there to guide you. It’s important to have people to help you and share things with, not just for college but for your overall health,” said McKenzie-Laury.