It only takes one person to make a difference and change a life.
There are two people involved at Mercy High School working to do just that. They don’t want their name on a room or a building. They simply want to make good citizens.
Pat Salcido is a different girl than the one who came to Mercy five years ago, and it’s not just because she’s older and wiser.
“When I got here, I immediately started making new friends and new connections, and it’s really helping me grow my confidence,” she said.
Pat’s confidence may be rooted in the fact that someone had confidence in her, back in fifth grade. She was one of four girls from the Rochester City School District selected to receive a six-year scholarship to Mercy from Sandy Parker and her husband, Dutch Summers.
“Probably the most moving part for me was why they wanted to leave the City School District, and these were, at the time, they were 11-year-olds,” said Parker. “But they all had a very poignant story and experience in the city school district that really caused them to want to leave.”
Parker, who led the Rochester Business Alliance, says she regrets not being able to improve Rochester schools during her career. Now, in retirement, she saw an opportunity at Mercy to help in a new way.
“I just think that if we can take 10 kids out of the city school district and give them an opportunity like this, that we have more of an impact than if we try to tackle a system where there’s 27,000 kids. The system itself is broken.”
Parker wanted to do more than write a tuition check. So, she’s gotten to know “The Parker Scholars” and receives regular reports on their academic work.
The scholarship also requires parents be involved and contribute something financially.
Pat will be the first in her family to go to college. She says they could never have afforded Mercy.
“I didn’t think it would be an option at all until Sandy helped me out,” she said. “In the end, the one thing Mercy has given to me is just the ability to dream bigger than whatever I imagined before.”
Pat is a top student, excelling in science and art. Her GPA is 4.3 out of a possible 4.5. College is in her future, and Parker is confident her investment was a wise one.
“I wanted to see what difference my dollars were making in these kids’ lives, and really believe that in every one of the cases, it’s been a change agent for them,” she said.
Six more girls have been enrolled – and more are expected to do so.
—- WHAM 13