Alice McKeever Riley, the sole surviving member of the first graduating class in Carlow University’s history – then known as Mount Mercy College – will turn 106 on Friday, June 17, 2016.
|Marketing and Communications||For Immediate Release|
|Drew Wilson, Director, Media Relations||June 14, 2016|
Pittsburgh, Pa. – Alice McKeever Riley, the sole surviving member of Mount Mercy College’s first graduating class, the class of 1933, will celebrate her 106th birthday on Friday, June 17, 2016. Carlow University was known as Mount Mercy College until 1969, when it became known as Carlow College. Carlow achieved university status in 2004.
Riley lives at Sacred Heart Convent in Springfield, Ill., with her daughter, Sister Rose Marie Riley, O.P., who is prioress of the Springfield Dominicans. Aside from being confined to a wheelchair and hard of hearing, her daughter reports that “We are all amazed at her health.”
The McKeever family lived on Mt. Washington, and Alice attended St. Mary of the Mount grade school before enrolling at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in 8th grade, a school that was located on the Carlow campus. When Mount Mercy College opened in 1929, Alice was ready to continue her education.
“My parents didn’t have the opportunity to go to college,” Alice told the Carlow Journal on the occasion of her 100th birthday celebration. “Papa believed that women should have a good education, just like men. My twin brothers (who attended Duquesne University) were the oldest, followed by four girls. He wanted all of us to go to college, and so did Mama. I never thought of it, but I guess Papa believed in equality for women back then.”
The Sisters of Mercy founded Mount Mercy College in September 1929, just weeks before the stock market crash of October ushered in the Great Depression. The Depression caused many worthy students to forego their dreams of college, but the McKeever family all worked and took extra jobs to help with the cost of college. Alice worked at Woolworth’s Five and Ten Cent Store, polishing all of the equipment before she went home each night.
Alice McKeever Riley earned her bachelor’s of science degree in home economics from Mount Mercy College in 1933. She worked as a teacher in a number of schools until her retirement in 1974.
From the aforementioned interview with the Carlow Journal, she said, “I have had 100 fabulous years and that is all part of God’s plan. I always believed in keeping busy. I always enjoyed sewing, reading, and teaching the children to sew. I tried to eat well, but didn’t have a strict diet. I like my vanilla ice cream too much!”
About Carlow University
Carlow is a private, co-educational, Catholic university located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s “Tech, Ed, and Med” district. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Carlow’s graduates, curriculum, and partnerships reflect its strong commitment to social justice; ethical, forward-thinking and responsible leadership; and service to the community that has a meaningful impact. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in three colleges: Health and Wellness, Leadership and Social Change, and Learning and Innovation. Carlow graduates are in demand for their professional expertise, in fields ranging from nursing, the sciences, and perfusion technology to counseling, education, and forensic accounting; their entrepreneurial spirit and creative mindset; and their ability to manage change. Carlow’s eleven athletic teams are known as the Celtics, a reflection of the university’s Irish heritage and roots.