Pauline Merry (Shelby Stephens/L.A. Sentinel)

Dr. Pauline Merry has dedicated her life’s work to expanding the minds of young adults through education. As a St. Louis native who grew up in segregation, Dr. Merry learned at a very young age that education was the key to fostering healthy communities and preserving the mind. At the age of 85 she wrote her first book, “Growing Up in the Ville in St. Louis, MO,” an autobiography told by her younger self chronicling her adolescence to high school.

Pauline Estelle Merry, BSN, MS, PhD. is a retired community college provost with over 40 years in education, mostly in the California Community College system. Her upbringing in St. Louis allowed her to develop the intellectual and social skills that served her so well as an adult and professional.

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Pauline E Merry Books | List of books by author Pauline E Merry (

Growing Up in The Ville in St. Louis, MO: Merry, Pauline E, Goodman, John M: 9798987199701: Books

Dr. Merry recalls her neighborhood being filled with affluent families of doctors, lawyers, and business owners. Her parents were college educated, and lived in a safe middle-class Black community in the 1940s and 50s. Dr. Merry was exposed to symphony concerts, classical music, and the grand opera.

A colleague of her father’s introduced her to the Congress of Racial Equity which led her to later move from the Ville, travel the world, and eventually settle in California. From 1963-1975, Dr. Merry went to school for nursing at UCLA, became a teacher at Jordan High School, and was a nursing instructor and a counselor at Los Angeles Valley College, but quickly realized nursing wasn’t her passion.

Growing Up in the Ville in St. Louis, MO (Courtesy Photo)

“The Black students at L.A. Valley College were requesting a Black counselor, at the time I began teaching a nursing course for one semester through the Associate Degree for Nursing program, and in school for my Masters in counseling at USC. Administration pulled me to assist students. I quickly became an assistant dean, dean, then stayed in the administrative role and that was a large part of my career. I really thrived as an administrator.”

In 1971, Dr. Merry was awarded “Woman of the Year in Education,” presented at the Women’s World Expo in Pasadena, and in 1993 was named one of the “Outstanding Black Women Administrators in the Los Angeles Community College District.” These accolades came very early in her career, with more to follow.

After leaving L.A. Valley College, Dr. Merry became the Director of Student Services in the L.A. Community College District from 1989-1991, and the Director of Instructional Programs from 1990-1992. She would go on to spend several years at West Los Angeles College and Irvine Valley College as the Dean of Admissions and Counseling, and Vice President of Student Services.

As an administrator, Dr. Merry empowered young people to pursue the skills they needed to succeed. She became a highly valued member of her community because of her intense, personal involvement in education along with her presence, vision, and advocacy for students. Her impact at Long Beach City College’s Pacific Coast Campus (PCC) is still well respected upon her retirement.

Dr. Merry carefully crafted a vision for PCC to increase the general education course offerings to let students earn an AA degree on campus, created the Accelerated College Education (ACE) program to cater to the needs of working adults enabling them to earn transferable liberal arts AA degree through night and weekend classes, and ultimately making PCC a center for the arts.

“I liked being at the table where decisions were made and how these decisions were going to affect the ability of my students to get what they need. I designed a program at PCC called the ACE Program where students could take short-term courses. I had to work with the academic senate and the faculty to agree that we could have this program because there were very few liberal arts classes. The program would help students transfer to universities. The notation was there for students to complete accelerated classes, get credit, receive the content, and converse in the topics.”

University of Missouri School of Nursing (Shelby Stephens/L.A. Sentinel)

Dr. Merry referred to PCC as “the jewel of Central Long Beach,” and as provost she strengthened the sense of family and community on campus. She elevated the PCC and stayed true to her commitment to respecting the school, her role as an administrator, and the power of faculty.

From 2017-2020, Dr. Merry continued to share her gifts through professional presentations as a motivational speaker at the Osher Life-Long Learning Institute (OLLI) at CSU Fullerton. She became a member of the City of Garden Grove Board of Appeals and a member of the Orange County Taxpayer Oversight Committee and its representative to the Environmental Oversight Committee until June 2021.

Before diversity, equity, and inclusion were hot topics, Dr. Merry embodied these terms and enhanced them through her work. She made it her personal mission to implement ideas and programs that would assist Black students in their quest for higher education. Dr. Merry is a treasure herself and has inspired many to invest in their communities. “Growing Up in the Ville in St. Louis, MO” is available online for purchase or can be ordered from any local bookstore.