Carpe Diem in action: Sisters' scholarship lights path for international student

Online meet and greet with Lata, Marina, Lindsay, Rhona, Robin, and Courtney

When Irish sisters and Mercyhurst University alumnae Rhona and Marina Boyle crossed paths with Indian-born Lata Vishesh, it was as if the stars had aligned to create the perfect scenario.


Serendipitous, yes, but those who live the Mercy Mission have the sense that more was at work here. 


But, first, some background:


Rhona graduated in 2013, earning a degree in Pre-Med/Biology. Today, she is a doctor working in Queensland, Australia. Marina graduated in 2021 with degrees in Business/Competitive Intelligence and International Hospitality and Tourism. Currently, she is an AML Quality Assurance Analyst at TikTok.


Both sisters were active at their alma mater and graduated with the university’s highest honor, the Carpe Diem Award, which is presented annually to the graduating senior who has made the most positive effect on the Mercyhurst community and who best exemplifies the university motto, "Carpe Diem" — "Seize the Day.”


The sisters agree that “Mercyhurst is a place that changes lives.” In fact, upon earning the award in 2021, Marina said, “Mercyhurst has given me so much, and I'll always remember it as the place where I made lifelong friends, expanded my horizons, and grew in mercy. My journey with Mercyhurst is not over…”


Indeed, it is not.


Together, Rhona and Marina have elected to gift $20,000 to create a Centennial Scholarship to be awarded to one student in increments of $5,000 annually. The only criteria they specified was that the scholarship goes to a female international student in need. Ultimately, their wish was that the gift would be an opportunity to “change lives,” much like Mercyhurst had changed theirs.


Portrait image of Lata, scholarship award winner

Enter Lata. Lata came to Mercyhurst from Kranti, a home for girls ages 13 to 23, who were raised in Kamathipura, the infamous red-light district of Mumbai, India. The girls housed at Kranti are daughters of sex workers; some are survivors of trafficking.


In her own words, featured on the Kranti website, this is how Lata described her upbringing:


“When I was six years old, my mother would go to work and send me and my younger brother out to beg on the street. Yes, I was one of those little girls who begs at your window, carrying a baby. But today, I live at Kranti and study in Somaiya College. I've grown up in NGOs, I've fought for my dreams, and I've never given up because I believe that transformation is possible for every single person on earth. No, I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up ... I think I just want to be a good human being.”


That was enough for the Boyle sisters to realize they had found the ideal candidate for their scholarship, said Lindsay Frank, Director of Special Projects and Initiatives in the Division of Advancement, who had introduced Lata to Rhona and Marina via Zoom. Also assisting with the virtual meet-and-greet was Courtney Olevnik, former Mercyhurst Director of International Admissions, who had facilitated Lata’s enrollment at Mercyhurst last year and became her friend and mentor, and the Director of Kranti, Robin Chaurasyia.


“Rhona and I chose to start this scholarship as we are thankfully in a position to give back and wanted to do so for the benefit of both the university and another young student like us,” Marina said. “Specifically, we wanted to help a female international student as the challenges faced by that demographic are known to us. We both feel that we received so much from Mercyhurst in that our time there shaped our lives as much as it did our careers. We are blessed to be able to help someone else achieve the same, and it is especially rewarding to be able to do so for Lata, knowing the circumstances of her past and how life-changing a college education will be for her and her family.”


It was important to Marina and Rhona that the scholarship also kept the mission of the founding Sisters of Mercy, who had envisioned a college to educate women.


“Mother Borgia Egan founded Mercyhurst to ensure women could receive higher education and opportunity at a time when this was not highly prioritized in society,” Rhona said. “Although separated by continents and a century, Robin's vision for Kranti is strikingly similar—to educate marginalized women who would otherwise have little opportunity to enter higher education, let alone experience university in the United States. Our hope is that this scholarship acts as a ripple effect. We wish Lata all the best in her studies and future career and hope that she, too, can make an impact on the lives of women in her chosen field in the years to come.”


In celebrating the Boyle Sisters Scholarship, Frank said she is excited that it aligns perfectly with the new scholarships the university has begun in recognition of its centennial.


“This scholarship is special because it is rooted in Mercy,” said Frank. “I think this is something our founding Sisters would be so proud to know is taking place.”


Anyone wishing to give back while recognizing Mercyhurst’s centennial, to be celebrated in the 2026-27 academic year, may reach out to Frank at


PHOTO: Virtual meet-and-greet leads Rhona and Marina Boyle to establish a Centennial Scholarship for female international student Lata Vishesh of India.