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A family and Queen's tradition

[Dolan Family Convocation]
Mariah Beahen, seen here with her mother Karen Dolan, will be wearing a gown that dates back to 1903 and a hood that was first worn in 1897 when she graduates from Queen's University on June 8. They are two of 14 members of the Dolan family who have graduated from Queen's. (Supplied Photo)

When Mariah Beahen stands on the stage of Grant Hall on June 8, it will be a moment of accomplishment steeped in family tradition.

As she receives her Bachelor of Arts degree, the Kingston resident will be wearing regalia that have been in her family for more than a century.

Her hood was first worn by her great-grandfather’s brother, John Henry Dolan, when he graduated from Queen’s in 1897. Her great-grandfather, George Robert Dolan, wore it the following year.

Similarly, her gown was first worn by John Henry’s wife, Laura Nugent, when she graduated from Queen’s in 1903.

That’s 118 years of family tradition over four generations.

It’s a deep connection that will only add to the life moment for Ms. Beahen.

“Even though it may not appear that I stand out, I think internally I will feel that I am standing out in that gown,” she says.

All told, Ms. Beahen will be the 14th member of the Dolan family to graduate from the university, almost all of whom have donned the family regalia.

Perhaps not surprisingly, both hood and gown are in excellent condition, cared for as a family heirloom.

“The gown is in incredible shape,” says Karen Dolan (BFA’78, BEd’79), Mariah’s mother and a Queen’s graduate herself. “It’s unbelievable.”

The significance of the event and the continuation of family tradition are not lost on Ms. Beahen. She has been amazed by the response.

“It’s pretty amazing since every person that I share the story with sinks it in for me more because everyone is just ‘Wow, that’s just incredible,’” she says. “I’m really glad I have the opportunity to do this.”

It will also be a big moment for her 92-year-old grandmother, Lois Dolan, who has taken care of the gown and hood in recent decades. Just getting the items ready has made her so happy, Ms. Beahen says. She has even stitched in the names of the graduates, including Ms. Beahen.

Karen Dolan turned down her chance to wear the gown when she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art in 1978. It’s something she now regrets but is happy that her daughter has made a different decision.

“I was given the chance to wear something that has been in my family since 1897 and I said no,” she says. “Luckily, Mariah said yes.”

The Dolan family’s connection to Queen’s is strong and 10 of the graduates have been women. The vast majority have also gone on to become teachers.

Another key family connection to Queen’s University is the Dolan Scholarship, created in 1992 with a donation of $1.5 million from the estate of Kathleen (Kay) Dolan (BA’24, MA’25), which provides selected students $3,000 a year for three years.