DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. -- Loren Eustaquio's journey from her native Phillipine Islands to a new life in the United States reached another plateau this week when Mercy College announced the 2014 graduate as the class valedictorian.
Eustaquio, who now lives in Dobbs Ferry, plans on a becoming an emergency room doctor while her sister, Jill Eustaquio, is also graduating with her summa cum laude when the Mercy College Class of 2014 graduates Wednesday, May 21.
Eustaquio grew up in a small town in the Philippines and said her parents had always talked about moving to the United States. Twenty years after her mother filed for visas, the family was granted entry, and Eustaquio moved to the U.S. with her mother, father and four sisters a month after she started college in the Philippines.
Carrying only a suitcase full of her most valuable possessions, the young student restarted her life and found a home in New York. Faced with a different culture, new language and financial difficulties at the time, she was convinced that she would never be able to go to college.
“My English wasn’t good enough for college and certainly not good enough to be a biology major.” Eustaquio said. “Mercy College looked into me and gave me a chance. They didn’t care about my accent.”
Eustaquio said she learned fast, and within a few months of starting college, she was tutoring in Mercy’s learning center, teaching biology, chemistry and mathematics. She was also a student intern at Pfizer Oncology Research Unit in Pearl River.
“If you would have asked me five years ago if I would be here, I would have said, 'Never – never in New York and never at Mercy College,'" she said. "But life has a way of throwing you off the path you planned – which isn’t always a bad thing."