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Mother to Walk with Daughter After Both Graduate from Mercy College

students at commencement

Mercy College commencement will be especially meaningful for a mother-daughter pair who will be walking together during the College’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences commencement ceremony taking place Thursday, May 19 from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. on Mercy’s Dobbs Ferry Campus.

Fifty-seven-year-old Gloria Slater ’21, mother to 35-year-old Shonda Slater ’22, will not just be watching her daughter walk across Mercy’s commencement stage – she will be a participant in the ceremonies. Gloria, who earned her bachelor’s degree in legal studies, has waited a year to walk to celebrate her accomplishment and graduate college side-by-side with her daughter. Her daughter Shonda is also earning her bachelor’s and will be graduating with a degree in criminal justice.

Gloria’s interest in law started when she was just a teenager. She was a critical thinker from the start, often asking big-picture questions when her siblings and classmates were less interested in knowing – to put it in Gloria’s terms – “…why things were the way they were.” She has been going to college since the 1980s, with the aspiration of one day being an attorney. Gloria has had to take time off from her studies to care for several family members, most recently her mother. While her path to a college degree had many twists and turns, she kept going back to school, because according to Gloria, “…knowledge is power – especially in today’s world.”

“It’s a huge accomplishment, getting a bachelor’s degree. It took me a long time to get that little piece of paper, and I did it. I can say that I did it,” Gloria says, as she reflects on her journey.

Shonda works for the Department of Community and Family Development in Dutchess County as an eligibility examiner. She was inspired to pursue criminal justice largely due to her mother's influence. 

 “I worked to inspire my daughter to get an education. She came to Mercy after me,” Gloria explained.

In terms of going to law school, Gloria believes age isn’t a factor to obtaining a Juris Doctor. “I don’t care if I’m 99-years-old, walking across the stage. I’m going to get a law degree.”

Both women overcame obstacles brought upon by the pandemic to succeed at Mercy and earn their degrees. They are grateful for Mercy’s faculty and staff for their support, as well as the College’s resources for nontraditional students, many of whom have unique needs.

“I tell others in my position to not give up. Things will get hard, but you’ll find a way. If it’s truly in your heart you can do it. Even if you must take one class at a time,” Gloria said.

Mercy College will celebrate 2,670 graduates from the Class of 2022 at its commencement ceremonies. The return of commencement to the Dobbs Ferry Campus marks the first time in 35 years that graduation ceremonies will be held on-campus. In addition to the in-person ceremonies, all commencement addresses and awarding of diplomas will be live-streamed for families, friends and guests of the graduating students.

For complete details about each of Mercy College’s five Commencement ceremonies, including date, time and location, please visit