Teresa Mahony ’10

Poster Child for Continuing Education

Teresa Mahony, mother of 12, grandmother of 34, could be a poster child for continuing education. When she received a bachelor’s degree in history, she became the oldest undergraduate to earn a degree this year from URI. Mahony turned 80 in June.

“I was on a 10 year plan. You have to have goals. Give yourself a practical window and make a plan,” says Mahony.

When she was 43 and her youngest child was 3, Mahony earned an associate’s degree from the Community College of Rhode Island and became a registered nurse. She worked part-time for 35 years at Kent County Hospital. URI converted those experiences into credits, which shortened the number of courses she had to take.

A decade ago, she attended an Open House at URI’s Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Continuing Education in Providence. “I’m ready,” she said and signed up to take one class a semester.

She studied at the Warwick Public Library, away from interruptions: “You have to have silence. Silence is rejuvenating. That’s where you can get your inner strength. I studied for my nursing degree in the cellar. Set my alarm clock for 5 o’clock in the morning. It was just me, the washing machine, and the dryer. I got the kids up at 6.”

Of her URI graduation, Mahony says: “I have the good fortune of good health and tremendous support from my husband, Owen, and children.”

She wasn’t the first Mahony to graduate from URI. Sons Tim, Mike, and Tom earned degrees from URI in 1979, 1989, and 1994.

And she has another connection to URI. Her niece, Lisa Harlow, is a professor of psychology. “ I have never known anyone to match the sparkling spirit of my Aunt Teresa,” says Harlow. “Her zest for life and learning is endless and contagious.”

So what’s Mahony’s next plan? “I’m giving myself 10 years to learn how to play the piano. The children all took lessons, but I never did.”

—Jan Wenzel ’87