Jacquie Varghese’s father left a legacy of empowering young women. Jacquie, a Mercy Associate and donor, is following in his footsteps.

Born in Saudi Arabia, Jacquie was extremely grateful for her “forward-thinking father” who made sure she went to high school. Just after she graduated, Jacquie’s family emigrated to the United States in 1996. The transition to life in a new country was challenging, but it was made easier with the help of Sister Marie Pierson who was ministering at St. James Parish in Woodbridge, New Jersey.

Jacquie continued her education, earning a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in engineering. She still lives in New Jersey and is currently an engineer and program director for a United States defense company.

Jacquie’s father passed away in 2017. Throughout his life, Jacquie was aware of her father’s philanthropy, but it was only after his death that she realized the kind of impact his generosity made. For decades, he had been supporting women in a remote village in Central India. Jacquie’s father had been funding them to go to university and train the next generation of women in their area. “It’s a selfless act,” Jacquie says. “There is no recognition for it. There is no reward on earth for it.”

Inspired by her father, Jacquie began searching for an organization that gives back to the community. “The Sisters of Mercy are that avenue for me,” she says.

In 2019, she was invited to become a Mercy Associate. Mercy Associates are lay people who participate in the life of the Sisters of Mercy by following the example of founder Catherine McAuley. They make a commitment to partner with the sisters and participate in service. Jacquie became an associate because she wanted to help the Sisters of Mercy in their work of empowering women just like her father did. The Sisters of Mercy and associates “reach out to people who often get overlooked. We in America are, even on our worst days, more privileged than anybody else,” says Jacquie.

As a leader in a primarily male-oriented industry, Jacquie continues to face many stereotypical challenges. She learned career-altering soft skills by observing behavior of multiple Mercy Associates, including Camilla Lauricella and Nanci Bachman. Mercy Associates have inspired her to be a better leader, tackle challenges with mercy and compassion while being firm. Jacquie is a believer in women’s rights and advocacy. To ensure that the Sisters of Mercy can continue advocating for social justice, Jacquie is a monthly donor. “I feel the sisters are overlooked,” Jacquie says. “The biggest impact [in communities] has been very strong women.” The Sisters of Mercy certainly fit that category.