DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. -- A teacher, beauty queen and accomplished young woman already, Mayra Avila will be the Mercy College graduate school valedictorian when the Westchester college graduates the Class of 2014 Wednesday, May 21.
Avila, the School of Education valedictorian, is not only a three-time Mercy College alumna, she is also the reigning Miss Westchester and a math teacher at Ossining High School.
Avila was born in Ecuador and at the age of four came to the United States with her family.
“Growing up in an immigrant household my parents made it very clear that they expected great things from me," Avila said. "I had to be somebody.”
Avila said she spent a long time fighting stereotypes as a Hispanic woman and was inspired by her mother, Monica Avila, who went back to school as an adult.
“When she came to this country in 1989 she had three small children and a husband to look after but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her American dream of becoming an elementary school teacher,” said Avila. “I saw my father take several jobs to support the family financially while my mother enrolled at Mercy College.”
Monica Avila graduated with her undergraduate degree in 1999 and her graduate degree in education in 2001 from Mercy College.
“My mother was right; education was going to be the key to success," Avila said. "Education unleashed qualities in me that I never had growing up such as confidence, fearlessness and courage. It was until I enrolled at Mercy College that I began to distinguished myself.”
With her self-confidence growing, Avila said she finally felt mentally strong enough to go for the Miss Westchester title and in the summer of 2013 she won it. She says it was an honor to be part of a prestigious pageant that puts an emphasis on excellence, achievement and personal growth for a young woman.
“I am very passionate about education because I believe that education should be open to all children regardless their backgrounds, financial needs or abilities," Avila said.