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Monday, August 7, 2017 - 12:15pm

When Donna K. Brown lost her job as a food and beverage manager in the Tarrytown Sheraton in the midst of the 2010 economic downturn, she was 54. In another earlier and simpler time, that may have been a sign to retire.

Brown took it as a cue to up her game, and enroll at Mercy College. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in 2016, at the age of 60. She is now the manager of development and outreach for the Youth Community Outreach Program (YCOP) in Mount Vernon, NY.

YCOP is a non-profit after-school and summer day camp program that provides services to young people ages 5-18 years. Through workshops that cover STEM, reading and reading enhancement, YCOP provides an opportunity for at-risk youth to be exposed to positive role models, and careers in the field of education, the arts, and government.

Brown is part of a growing movement of people aged 50 and up who are returning to college – or attending it for the first time. Forbes magazine thinks the trend is a no-brainer, offering opportunities for personal growth and a sense of accomplishment as well as superior job prospects.

All very easy for Forbes to say, but looking to switch careers and enter college for the first time in your mid-fifties is still an intimidating prospect. Mercy, however, makes it easy.

“Mercy College's small classroom sizes provide the opportunity for you to become more than an occupant in a chair but allow for personal and individualized relationships with your professors and fellow students,” Brown told us. “The tutoring workshops available for all areas of study were extremely helpful. The professors and students there became partners with me and my education.”

Something must have clicked, because Brown has just begun studying for her Master of Public Administration degree, also at Mercy College.