Mercy College is one of five colleges and universities nationwide selected to pilot a new program supported by Google that aims to encourage diversity, equity and inclusion in the technology industry. After a rigorous application process, 13 Mercy students began the program, known as TechWise, in March with the rest of the pilot cohort, which includes a total of 120 students from Mercy and four other institutions in Pennsylvania, Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada.
“I'm so grateful to be a part of the program,” said Kanchana Iyer ’24 who is majoring in computer science. “I've never had an opportunity like this before. It's just a dream come true. I still feel like I'm dreaming at this point.”
TechWise is a program offered by global ed-tech company TalentSprint and supported by Google that prepares students from underrepresented groups for high-growth careers in technology. The 18-month virtual program involves 600 hours of coursework on topics such as coding and building applications. The goal is that students build both the technical expertise and the soft skills necessary for success in the corporate world. As an added bonus, students receive a 100% scholarship for the course plus a $5,000 stipend to help them cover basic expenses so they can focus on their learning.
Students in the TechWise program attend classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There are optional sessions on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays where they can ask questions and review content with instructors. “Everything about the program is extremely professional, and the team that's teaching us really, really cares about our success,” said Manuel Coronel ’23 who is majoring in cybersecurity. “They give us lots of opportunities to stay on track, and all the students are working hard. It's great.”
The Mercy College team works closely with TalentSprint to ensure that Mercy students have everything they need to succeed from academic support to financial stability. “There's such a community of support around these students — at Mercy, at TalentSprint and at Google,” said associate provost for academic affairs Dena Whipple, Ed.D., who serves as Mercy’s liaison to TalentSprint, along with Joi Sampson, Ed.D., Mercy College director of academic engagement, equity and inclusion. “There are a lot of people who want them to be successful. All the time with the instructors and the cohort builds a strong sense of community, and that’s a really important component to students being successful too.”
In addition to the support provided by TalentSprint and Mercy, each student is assigned a Google mentor. In their monthly meetings, mentors provide personal and professional guidance to help students prepare for their careers. When Coronel recently met his mentor for the first time, for example, they discussed a range of topics including imposter syndrome, what a typical day at Google is like, how the mentor maintains a work-life balance and the benefits of creating a LinkedIn profile.