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The Reeds

Graduating from Roosevelt: It's all in the family for the Reeds

Posted: 05/13/2013

It’s fair to say that 22-year-old Chicago native Ashley Reed has Roosevelt University in her blood.

Both of her grandmothers, Marva Reed (BA, ’65) and Elvira Alexander (BA, ’92) received college degrees there.

Her parents, Audrey Reed (BA, ’88; MA, ’92) and Malcolm Reed (BA, ’91) went there.

Her grandfather, Christopher R. Reed (BA, ’63; MA, ‘68) even was a full-time history professor at Roosevelt for two decades from 1987 through 2006. And his two other sons, (besides Malcolm), William Reed (BA, ’95) and Robert Reed (BA, ’89), who are Ashley’s uncles, graduated from there.

(Roosevelt University alumni from the Reed family include in photo above, from left: Marva Reed, Audrey Alexander Reed, :new graduate Ashley Reed, Malcolm Reed, Elvira Alexander, Robert Reed, Roosevelt Professor Emeritus of History Christopher Reed , who is wearing a graduation robe, and William Reed). 

“You could say I heard about it in the womb,” the youngest of the bunch joked after walking across the stage at the Auditorium Theatre this month, receiving her diploma from her grandfather, Professor Emeritus of History Christopher Reed.

As a Lindblom Math and Science Academy student, Ashley Reed applied to 30 colleges, then chose Roosevelt because she felt “there was something special about it.”

“The biggest thing I found out as a student is that the institution hasn’t lost its social justice aspect and I really admire that. It’s something special,” said the integrated marketing communications major who started at the University in 2009.

The latest member of a growing list of Reeds who are Roosevelt alumni, Ashley Reed remembers conversations about Roosevelt at the dinner table. She confirms that the institution was chatted up a lot at family gatherings. And all of those graduations – well, Ashley wasn’t old enough to have been there but she’s finally gotten a taste of what the experience is all about.
And it definitely was a once-in-a-lifetime event for the resident of East Garfield Park who recently learned from her grandfather that she is fourth generation of the Reed family to have a connection to the institution.

“It’s a natural progression,” said Christopher Reed, whose late mother, Josephine Rhodes, once a vice president for the Village Maids Service in Chicago’s Sandburg Village, attended a management seminar for executives of small firms at Roosevelt.

“My mother was proud when I graduated,” said Reed, a well-known historian of African American history in Chicago who recently showed his granddaughter the keepsake diploma that his mother had received from Roosevelt for attending the management seminar.

“The university is held in high-esteem in the African-American community and I’m proud to see my granddaughter graduate,” said Reed.

As professor emeritus, Reed was on stage on Friday, May 3 to hand his granddaughter her diploma.  His granddaughter,  who heard a lot of cheers in the audience from family members, is elated to be moving on to the next phase of her life.  Her plan is to one day open a public relations and special events business.