Riley earns scholarship to Swarthmore

Kathryn Riley was in one of her classes at Indian River High School on Feb. 15 when she heard from her father that she’d received a letter from Swarthmore College.
Knowing that she was eligible for the college’s McCabe scholarship, she said that she couldn’t wait to get home to open the letter and find out if she was one of its annual winners.
Coastal Point • FILE PHOTO: Kathryn Riley pitches during an Indian River softball game.Coastal Point • FILE PHOTO:
Kathryn Riley pitches during an Indian River softball game.

But she waited all day, no doubt suffering through each of her classes before going home and rushing to the mailbox. And when she opened the letter, what she found out it was well worth the wait. The Indian River senior will have all four years of her education fully paid at the 1,500-student college 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia in Swarthmore, Pa.

“I was pretty excited,” Riley said of finding out she won the scholarship. “I want to go to med school too and my parents can’t pay for both. Having my undergrad paid for is really big.”

According to the school’s Web site at, Thomas. B. McCabe, who graduated from Swarthmore in 1915, established the scholarship, which is awarded based on a student’s character, personality, leadership skills and their service to their school and community.

The school awards the scholarship to two students from the Delmarva Peninsula and two students from three southern counties in Pennsylvania each year.

Riley, a senior at Indian River, is a member of the Leo Club, where she served as president in her sophomore year, as well as being an all-conference softball player and a member of the National Honors Society with an above-4.0 grade-point average.

She also plays clarinet in the school band and has participated in the math league and the science Olympiad in her time at Indian River. Riley, the daughter of Lou and Lonnie Riley, will major in chemistry in preparation for medical school. She said she would like to research early-onset childhood diseases; but with a chemistry major, she is keeping her options open.

“Their chemistry program is really strong,” Riley said. “I decided that I could do more with a chemistry major if I don’t go into medicine.”

The long-time dancer said the school also offers many dance classes, so she won’t have to abandon her love for the activity. She also plans on playing softball at the Division III college, which competes in the Centennial Conference. The Garnet finished 10-26 overall and 4-12 in the Centennial last year and this season will open at 2:30 p.m. on March 2 at home against Arcadia.

The two-time All-Conference pitcher has already had a chance to meet some of the team’s players, on a recent trip to the college on one of few visits to the school.

It’s an environment she said she will enjoy, with what she calls a beautiful campus in a suburban area close to a city. She can play softball, she can dance and she can prepare for medical school all at the same college. In short, she doesn’t see anything she doesn’t like about going to Swarthmore. The scholarship was just a greatly appreciated and welcomed bonus.

“I had applied other places, but ultimately I decided on Swarthmore,” Riley said. “It’s a really good school and it’s got a good name. I really like it there.”