Making a Difference Emma Rose supports Pitt to pave path for other students

Issue Date: 
February 9, 2009


For Emma Rose (CAS ’45), giving to the University of Pittsburgh has always been a family tradition.

“I was just a little girl when the Cathedral of Learning was being built and
the chancellor asked everyone to contribute to the University’s building
fund,” Rose said. “My father encouraged me to make a donation, so I gave 10 cents to help with the construction.”

Since then, the Cathedral of Learning has been a symbol of
inspiration, scholarship, and achievement for this East Liberty, Pa.,
native who now resides in Hartford, Conn.

“During the years of the Great Depression, the Cathedral of Learning offered hope to my family. When we saw the Cathedral in the horizon, my father would often tell me that Pitt would be the institution that would open the doors of opportunity to me,” Rose said.

Just as her father predicted, Rose pursued a college education at Pitt.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Pitt’s College of Arts and Sciences and a master’s degree from the Carnegie Institute of Technology Library School (now part of Pitt’s School of Information Sciences), Rose moved to Hartford, to become the librarian for the Ropkins Branch of the Hartford Public Library. The Ropkins Branch is part of SAND Elementary School, which is named for the South Arsenal Neighborhood Development, a 1960s neighborhood action league.

For 36 years, Rose was committed to making SAND Elementary School a better place to learn. In addition to serving as librarian at the school, she was treasurer and chair of the fundraising committee of the Parent Teacher Community Organization; sponsored extracurricular activities for students, such as the Computer Club and the Cooking and Sewing Club; coordinated the publication of two of the school’s yearbooks; and served as the building representative for the Hartford Education Association.

“I loved being a school librarian because I was able to work with children,” she said. “Whether I was teaching library skills or
coordinating reading activties, I was always interacting with the children in my school.”

Rose’s dedication to the school and its children didn’t go unnoticed. When she retired in 1993, the Hartford Board of Education named the SAND Elementary School library the Emma E. Rose Media Center/Ropkins Public Library in her honor.

Not only did Rose contribute to the Hartford community during her time at SAND Elementary, she also has been a faithful contributor to Pitt’s
Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, of which she was a member, and the University of Pittsburgh. Rose created a charitable gift annuity to support the African American Nursing Alumni Scholarship Fund in Pitt’s School of Nursing.

While providing tuition assistance to students was her top priority, there
is another poignant inspiration behind her gift to the School of Nursing.

“When I was in school during World War II, we needed more soldiers and more nurses. Back then, although we needed people to fill these needs, racial prejudice was on the rise,” explained Rose. “My friends Rachel Johnson Poole, Nadine Frye, and Adena Johnson Davis, all aspiring nurses, had a difficult time applying to nursing programs in the Pittsburgh area because they were African American. But, in 1943, they were all accepted into Pitt’s School of Nursing. The University made history that day as the first nursing program in Western Pennsylvania to admit African Americans,” Rose recalled.

Rose was encouraged to support Pitt’s nursing program because the University offered her longtime friends and sorority sisters the opportunity to earn nursing degrees.

The African American Nursing Alumni Committee established the scholarship fund in 1989. Since then, the committee has raised more than $42,592 from 138 donors. Over the years, this scholarship has helped ease the financial burden of educational costs for 25 students, and Rose’s gift has helped the fund continue to grow.

“In my life, I’ve learned that you can do more as a group than you can by yourself. That’s why I chose to support this scholarship fund,” said Rose. “Together, we can all make a difference in the lives of Pitt students.”