Mercy Alumna, Now Business Executive, Shares Career Journey with Students

Lavelle headshot

A group of Mercy students visited the offices of EY Stamford, a member of the accounting firm Ernst & Young, to learn more about the company and its opportunities for internships and employment. Once there, they listened, rapt, as Patricia LaValle ’85, described her career journey from her humble beginnings to her position as an executive director at EY.

After working briefly at People’s Bank (now M&T) and a small tax firm in Stamford, LaValle was invited to interview for the emerging growth companies’ group of Ernst & Young, one of the world’s best known professional services firms. “When I joined EY, I never thought I’d be here for 35 years,” she said.

LaValle was thrilled to meet with Mercy students and give back to the College that gave her the support she needed to be successful. During the visit, she shared her own experiences as a Mercy commuter student: “I didn’t have the money to live on campus, plus I worked full-time in order to pay for my tuition.”  She saw faces light up with recognition. “The students were able to relate to knowing the value and importance of an education, yet having to do it without help from parents,” she recalled.

As a Mercy student, LaValle had considered majoring in marketing or psychology, but soon switched to accounting. “I really enjoyed the classes, and I remember a professor saying that accountants can always find work,” she said. “That made a big impression on me. So did the fact that my professors were professionals in the field. That brought a lot of meaning to what they said.”

While enrolled in a public speaking course, LaValle was invited to teach a class on giving a presentation. “I was terrified but I knew I could hold my own,” she said. “That leadership opportunity gave me the confidence I needed to apply to a firm like EY.” She also developed leadership skills through her involvement in student government and other campus activities.

The visit was arranged through Mercy’s Career and Professional Development office. Sara Shepherd, director of employer relations, said, “Thanks to our partnership with EY, Mercy was able to offer students the opportunity to visit the EY office and learn about the many opportunities available. We are grateful to EY for identifying Mercy as a target school for recruiting talent. The students really enjoyed learning more about the company’s history of hiring Mercy students and alumni.”