Skip to main content
Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

80-year-old East Providence resident to graduate from URI this month

Media Contact:

KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 5, 2005 -- Learning is a lifelong process for Albert Shovelton. The 80-year-old will graduate this month from the University of Rhode Island, with the distinction of being the most senior senior. He has spent that last three years earning his bachelor of arts in English at the URI Feinstein Providence Campus.

“I’ve always been interested in writing,” said the soon-to-be graduate. “It comes naturally. I’ve written lots of poetry and short stories. A few of my poems and one short story have been published.”

The East Providence resident taught English and literature to eighth graders in North Attleboro, Mass. After retiring, he worked at Saint Brendan’s School in Riverside for eight years.

Shovelton’s wife of 35 years, Joan, teaches at Saint Brendan’s. “She loves teaching the little ones,” commented Shovelton. The Shoveltons have one son, Brian who is currently studying anthropology and philosophy at URI.

Shovelton lived through the major events of the 20th century. “My father was an electrician. During the Depression he lost his job, but quickly found another one as an engineer at a brewery,” he said. “My parents scraped and saved to put me through school.”

Shovelton attended Coyle High School in Taunton, Mass., graduating at 16. He attended Providence College, and then transferred to Saint Mary’s University in Baltimore, Md. and graduated in 1944 at 19 with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy.

“I owe my education as well as my strong Catholic faith to my parents,” said Shovelton.

“Thank God that I’m still blessed with all of my senses,” said Shovelton. “Going back to school has kept me active and stopped me from climbing the walls during retirement.”

Some authors that he has enjoyed reading over the years are Doyle, Hawthorne and Hemingway. His favorite poet is Joyce Kilmer, who was killed in WWI. “He always put his faith in God,” said Shovelton. “It was one of his major themes in his poetry and I can relate to that.

“I was very impressed with the professors at URI,” said Shovelton. “At my age, I can contribute a lot in class discussion. I hope the professors didn’t mind it. One of my favorite professors was Fritz Wenisch, who I had for comparative philosophy.”

While studying English, Shovelton focused on creative writing, poetry, fiction and travel writing. “I also took courses in the classics and mythology.”

Shovelton may return to URI to earn a master’s degree, but he is not sure in what subject. “I’m always interested in reading and learning things,” he explained. “If you keep active, reading and so on, you’ll live a good full life and be content.”