For sisters Elaine Corcoran O'Malley '53 and Mildred Corcoran Feloney '55, an Emmanuel College education transcended the four years they each spent on campus into more than six decades of lasting friendships and a lifelong source of pride for their family. In addition to both Elaine and Mildred being members of the Heritage Society, Emmanuel's distinguished legacy circle, Elaine recently established the James and Grace Corcoran Endowed Scholarship, named in honor of their parents.
Elaine and Mildred grew up just a few blocks from the College, where they lived in a triple-decker on Francis Street and attended OLPH Mission Grammar School. When it came time to choose a college, Elaine was drawn to Emmanuel for several reasons-at the time, it was a fairly new institution, it was a clear option for young Catholic women, and two of her teachers at the Girls' Latin School (now Boston Latin Academy) were Emmanuel graduates and spoke very highly of the school.
Elaine recalls a Saturday morning in 1949 during her shift at a public library in Boston.
"I remember getting a phone call, and it was my parents, saying that I had received notice of a full scholarship to Emmanuel College," she said. "They were so excited."
Just a few years later, Mildred was also admitted into Emmanuel, and with a full scholarship from Mission High School.
"It remained so important in their lives that both of their daughters had gone to Emmanuel, and I knew if anyone's name should be on the scholarship, it should be theirs," Elaine added.
"When Elaine suggested establishing a scholarship in our parents' names, I was thrilled," Mildred said. "My parents sacrificed a lot for us. By the time we were in high school, my father had been sick for many years, and my mother went back to work as a school secretary."
As a mathematics major, Elaine remembers a small, but close-knit department and Sr. Laurentine Marie (as well as English professors Sr. Angela Elizabeth and Sr. Marie of the Trinity, who later served as Emmanuel College president from 1969-1975) as her greatest influences.
"The faculty took a personal interest in students," she said. "I received a great education."
Just after graduating, Elaine secured a job at the Air Force Cambridge Research Center, which operated from 1945 to 2011.
"My husband was going through medical school, so it felt good to be able to work while he continued his education."
As a commuter, a biology major and an education minor, Mildred remembers a lot of hard work and not a lot of free time, but does give a nod to a special, often-remembered location on campus.
"I didn't smoke at the time, but if you wanted to find someone, you'd go look for them in the smoker," she said.
While Mildred remained in Massachusetts with her husband and children, Elaine moved to Washington, D.C. in 1957, where she became active in the area's regional alumni group. Both have been able to visit campus for class reunions over the years to reconnect with who they call "the closest friends for most of our lives."
Elaine and Mildred have for years been loyal supporters of Emmanuel, to give back a little bit of what the College gave to them.
"I can only hope that it helps bring the students who receive this scholarship as much pride and pleasure as it did for us, and that their experience is just as wonderful and fulfilling," Elaine said.
Mildred hopes that students for many generations will be able to benefit from an Emmanuel education through the scholarship and their planned gifts.
"Emmanuel is such a tradition for the city of Boston and for my family," Mildred said. "I think it's just wonderful all that is happening there to keep the community so strong."