Sister Mary Gervase was born Helen Agnes Kelley in Roxbury, Massachusetts in
1888. She graduated from the St. Patrick's High School in 1905 and entered the
Community of the Sisters of Charity, Halifax, Nova Scotia, in August 1906. From 1908 to 1913 she taught in the Halifax Public Schools. During this time she earned Matriculation and Intermediate Arts certificates from the University of London. Starting in 1913 she studied at the Catholic Sisters College at the Catholic University of America where she received her B.A. degree (1914) and M.A. degree (1915).
In 1917 she became the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics
from the Catholic University of America. Her thesis was "On the cardioids
fulfilling certain assigned conditions" [Abstract] written under the supervision of Aubrey Landry.
Vita, PhD Thesis, University of Michigan Historical Math Collection
Helen Brewster Owens Papers. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe