Creating the next generation of diverse leaders

Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute

At Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women, we empower young women to unleash their potential through a vigorous pursuit of knowledge, service to others, a global perspective, and leadership opportunities. The new Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute will help us do even more. The Institute honors Cheryl Speranza, a 1965 Mercy graduate who passed away from pancreatic cancer in March 2018 and had a passion for serving others, including Rochester’s young women and youth. Prior to her passing, Paul and Cheryl Speranza created and funded the Institute through a generous gift of more than $1.2 million from the Speranza family and the Cheryl and Paul Speranza Foundation. Learn more about the inspiration behind the Institute by clicking here. Institute scholars will be provided with the necessary tools to succeed in school and life:

  • Access to mentors, tutors, and youth advocates
  • Life and career assistance throughout college, graduate school and their careers
  • Creation of a “new girls” network that benefits the entire Mercy high school student body
  • Funding for emerging leaders from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, including those with limited financial and emotional support

The inaugural program kicked off in fall 2019, with scholarship awardees beginning pre-work in July. Each student who desires to participate must meet Mercy’s criteria for need-based financial aid and demonstrate academic promise, natural leadership ability, work ethic, as well as provide the necessary teacher recommendations and other evaluations as determined by Mercy’s academic leadership.

Know a deserving student with leadership potential?

To nominate a candidate for a scholarship, contact Program Chair Linda Dickey at 585-288-7120 x360 or yqvpxrl@zrepluf.pbz.

The Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute was designed to help create the next generation of diverse civic, community, and business leaders. As part of this program, it includes up to 11 full tuition scholarships for members of Mercy’s class of 2023 (incoming 9th grade students). The Cheryl Speranza Leadership scholars will be minority students who demonstrate academic promise, natural leadership ability, work ethic, and have a financial need that would otherwise prevent the student from attending Mercy. Each scholarship provides full tuition for the four years a student is at Mercy (grades 9-12). Speranza scholars will also be provided with the necessary tools to succeed in school and life, including access to mentors, tutors, and youth advocates as well as life and career assistance throughout college, graduate school, and their careers.

Application deadline: Applications are accepted and processed on a rolling basis, and early applications are encouraged.

Application Overview and Requirements:

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure all materials are submitted and that the application is complete.

Application Requirements:

  1. Admissions application to Mercy, resulting in a positive admissions decision. This requires:
    1. Completion of the Mercy entrance exam.
    2. Review of the student’s academic file, which must include their 7th grade report card, 8th grade report card to date, and results of any recent standardized tests. If a student has learning accommodations including but not limited to an IEP or 504 plan these documents must also be provided. Note: Mercy will provide a records release form at the entrance exam to assist in the compiling of these materials.
  2. Completion of the Mercy need-based online financial aid application (FACTS)
  3. Five paragraph essay, authored by the applicant, describing why she is interested in the program and how she sees the Speranza Institute and scholarship benefiting her leadership journey. The essay should be submitted to Mercy with a cover page which includes the following information:
    1. Student Name
    2. Current Grade
    3. Mailing Address
  4. All letters must follow the template provided here and be submitted directly to Mercy from the recommending party.
  5. Two letters of recommendation from current or former teachers; teachers must have instructed student within the last two years.
  6. Two (2) character reference letters from non-family members.

Candidates must also complete an in-person scholarship interview, to be held at Our Lady of Mercy. Interviews are invitation-only, based on a candidate’s application.

Selection Process:

All applications will be reviewed by the Speranza application committee, which includes members of the Mercy staff as well as the Cheryl Speranza Institute Executive Committee. Successful applicants will be minority students who demonstrate a history of academic success and promise, emerging leadership skills, and have a clear financial need that would otherwise prevent the student from attending Mercy.

Selected applicants will be invited to Our Lady of Mercy for a scholarship interview. Candidates who are not invited to or do not complete the interview are not eligible for the scholarship award.

Submission Process:

Applications will be accepted in-person at Mercy, or can be mailed to Linda Dickey, Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute, c/o Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women, 1437 Blossom Road, Rochester, NY 14610. A fully complete application can also be emailed to yqvpxrl@zrepluf.pbz. Please include “Cheryl Speranza Leadership Scholarship Application” in the subject line. Due to the volume of applications, we cannot respond to requests to check application status, or to verify that applications are complete.

Questions?

If you have questions regarding the Cheryl Speranza Leadership Scholarship application process, please contact Linda Dickey at yqvpxrl@zrepluf.pbz or 585-288-7120 x360.

The Institute is chaired by Linda Dickey, MS. As Chair, Linda is responsible for building the Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute from the ground up, including its development, implementation, analysis, and continuous improvement of the programmatic components. Linda received her master’s degree in Educational Administration from St. John Fisher College, and a master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum with a concentration in Social Studies from the University of Rochester.

Inquires
For more information about the Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute, contact Program Chair Linda Dickey at 585-288-7120 x360 or yqvpxrl@zrepluf.pbz.

On November 9, 2018, we announced the Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute to thunderous applause! Nearly 1,000 students, faculty, and invited guests crowded into Mercy’s auditorium to celebrate mass and witness history in action. Watch a brief Summary Video of this amazing event by clicking on the image.

When we announced the launch of the Cheryl Speranza Institute on November 9, 2018, we had the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Dr. King spoke about the importance of her father’s and mother’s work and how the Institute aligns with the efforts of The King Center. You can watch Dr. King’s entire keynote address by clicking on the image.

 

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