Mercy College Alumnus Earns Doctorate in Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences

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Federally Funded McNair Scholars Program Encouraging Traditionally Underrepresented Students to Consider Pursuing Advanced Degrees

The support and guidance I received from Mercy College’s [McNair Scholars Program] gave me the confidence and preparation necessary to attend graduate school and to pursue a doctorate

Mercy College’s McNair Scholars Program, now in its 15th year, is synonymous with helping its students achieve success in pursuing and completing advanced degrees.

First-generation college graduate Pergentino Balbuena ’04 is Mercy College’s most recent scholar to earn a doctorate. In 2010, he earned a Ph.D. in biomedical and veterinary sciences from Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

“The support and guidance I received from Mercy College’s McNair Scholars Program gave me the confidence and preparation necessary to attend graduate school and to pursue a doctorate,” said Balbuena, a Yonkers native. “The program prepared me for the rigorous life of a graduate student by encouraging exposure to real scientific research and the attainment of good studying methods and research skills.”

The federally funded program, established in 1989 and named for astronaut and Challenger crew-member physicist Dr. Ronald E. McNair, encourages low-income, first-generation students and others who have been traditionally under-represented in graduate education to consider pursuing advanced degrees.

“The Mercy College McNair Scholars program plays an important role in preparing students for post-graduate education and for their future professional roles as academics, researchers, and community leaders,” said Duane Smith, director of Honors and Scholars programs at Mercy College. “Through their learning experiences, they have the opportunity to contribute to our knowledge and understanding in a wide variety of academic and professional fields, and in doing so, develop the self-confidence that enables them to succeed in their post-graduate studies and their careers.”

In addition to the vital research and presentation experience, Mercy College’s McNair Scholars Program offers specialized academic counseling and assistance obtaining financial aid, showing students that the expense of graduate school does not have to be an insurmountable obstacle.

Of the 75 students who completed Mercy College’s McNair Scholars program, more than 57 percent are pursuing advanced degrees. So far, two Mercy College scholars have earned doctorates.

About Pergentino Balbuena
Balbuena currently works as a research associate at the Hammer Institutes of Heal Sciences in Triangle Park, NC. He was named a 2010 Bern Schwetz Award winner by the National Capital District Society of Toxicology, and in April 2010 he was published by Toxicological Sciences, the official journal of the Society of Toxicology.

About Mercy College
Mercy College is a private, nonprofit institution founded in 1950, providing motivated students with the opportunity to earn degrees in more than 90 undergraduate and graduate programs within five schools: Business, Education, Health and Natural Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Liberal Arts. An engaging and personalized learning experience, that includes the college’s revolutionary PACT (Personalized Achievement Contract) program, is offered at the main campus in Dobbs Ferry, as well as campuses in the Bronx, Manhattan, Yorktown Heights and White Plains. 877-MERCY-GO.

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Melissa Cortellini
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