When Chelsea Christie watched her mother put on a cap and gown to get a nursing degree, she wept. No one in her family, originally from Jamaica, had gone to college. Chelsea is one of five children and says of her mom: “I watched her push herself. I saw her go through so much, making sure we were all ok while she got a degree. I said mom: you did it!” It made Chelsea think about the importance of education in a whole new way. “And I knew I could do it myself,” she says.
Her mom was one of several strong women who inspired Chelsea to excel in school: a guidance counselor. An AP psych teacher. Staying focused on, “Not just being mediocre, but being great” wasn’t easy: Chelsea also worked, commuting from home in the Bronx to times square in Manhattan where she put in more than 30 hours a week at a movie theater. “I’d get home at 1 a.m.” she says, “And still have to do homework.”
As a high school senior Chelsea applied to more than two-dozen colleges. Most gave her some money. Only Mercy offered her the opportunity to get a full ride, by giving her the scholarship, which pays for the tuition not covered by federal and state aid. Being a Mercy Scholar put Chelsea over the top – and enabled her to pursue higher education.
Chelsea is in Mercy’s undergraduate general sciences program, but already has plans to go for a master’s degree and pursue a career in pathology. She talks to her siblings, her friends and all who will listen about the importance of higher education. As a Mercy Scholar she sees a unique opportunity, “To leave four years from now and not have to pay back loans, but be able to use everything that I’ve been provided and give back to others, in my community: teens who were once in my predicament applying to colleges.”