The Sole-Surviving Member of Carlow University’s First Graduate Class Turns 106 Today

Alice Mckeever Riley graduated from Mount Mercy College, now Carlow University, in 1933.

Photo from the family of Alice McKeever Riley

When Alice McKeever Riley left Mount Mercy’s College with a bachelor’s of science degree in home economics with a bright future ahead as a teacher in 1933, little did she know she would be the longest-living alumna amongst her fellow graduates.

Riley, originally hailing from Mt. Washington, enrolled at the Our Lady of Mercy Academy, located on Carlow University’s campus, in 8th grade. When Mount Mercy College was opened in Sept. 1929 by the Sisters of Mercy, Riley was ready to further her education.

Photos courtesy of carlow University

“My parents didn’t have the opportunity to go to college,” says Riley to the Carlow Journal on the occasion of her 100th birthday celebration. “Papa believed that women should have a good education, just like men. He wanted all of us [the children] to go to college, and so did Mama.  I never thought of it, but I guess Papa believed in equality for women back then.”
Riley now lives at the Sacred Heart Convent in Springfield, III., with her daughter, Sister Rose Marie Riley, O.P. Other than being restricted to a wheelchair and partial hearing loss, she is in good health.


Riley attributes her long life as part of God’s plan and her dedication to keeping busy. She says she’s tried eating well, but was never too strict with her diet because of her love of vanilla ice cream.

Categories: The 412