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Mercy College Alum Transitions From the Military to Teaching Math

Ricardo Rodriguez has used the skills he honed in the military to help him teach math to area students.
Ricardo Rodriguez has used the skills he honed in the military to help him teach math to area students. Photo Credit: Mercy College

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. -- When Mercy College alumnus Ricardo Rodriguez ’14, M.A. ’15 was growing up in Mount Vernon, school always came easy to him – especially math. But the son of Mexican immigrants explains that for him, after high school, college seemed very out of reach because his family didn’t have the money to send him.

Unclear about what exactly to do, he joined the Marine Corps in 2001 and deployed to Iraq in 2003. After serving one tour, he returned home and found himself in a job. “I was working as a diesel mechanic. It was an honest, good paying job that helped me support my wife and sons, but I didn’t see a future in it for me. I didn’t just want a job – I wanted a career,” he said. It was then that Rodriguez decided it was time to go to college.

While back in the classroom, and tutoring a family member in math, he says he realized how he excelled in math in a way others did not. Rodriguez enrolled in the Race to the Top Program in the School of Education and began working towards his goal of becoming a math teacher. While doing his student teaching in Yonkers he said: “I see myself in them. With the Latino students, I look into their eyes and see a younger version of myself looking back.”

He acknowledges that being a first-generation student is challenging. But he says that without Mercy College he would have been lost. “The best part of it is that because of Mercy College – when my sons go to college, they will have a father who knows and understands the process.”

Mercy College is now the proud recipient of another grant – this time from the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. The grant, for just over 1.1 million dollars, is for a project to advance mathematics education, with a particular emphasis on veterans retraining for new careers as secondary mathematics teachers.

Mercy College will recruit 10 veterans who have strong math backgrounds to qualify for full scholarships in a 14-month master’s degree program, with the intention of assisting 20 veterans over the period of the grant to complete their coursework and support their introduction into teaching. Mercy will collaborate with the Yonkers Public School District to train the program’s students.

For more information or to apply, contact Dr. William Farber, Program Director, Mercy College at or 914-674-7675.

Daily Voice produced this article as part of a paid Content Partnership with our advertiser, Mercy College

We are highly selective with our Content Partners, and only share stories that we believe are truly valuable to the communities we serve.

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