In her autobiography (written with the disability of a stroke impeding her ability to type) Penet mused,
When in 1937, Elizabeth Gertrude Penet entered the convent, she had already achieved some distinction.
In a competition with students from other schools taught by IHMs, Penet won a year's scholarship to Marygrove College and received another the following year as well (Chronicles, 1932).
Having finished high school by age 15, Penet completed her college years at age 19.
Unlike most of her IHM companions, Penet began teaching immediately at the secondary rather than the elementary level.
This providential mentoring and Riley's election to a leadership role on the congregational council precipitated the movement of Penet from high school teaching to doctoral studies at Saint Louis University and into teaching in the Marygrove College extension at the Monroe Motherhouse.
Employing her now finely honed teacher skills, her freshly attained insights, and her long-time convictions, Penet taught the young sisters foundational courses in philosophy: metaphysics, philosophy of man, and ethics.
Riley had been scheduled for a panel presentation to the gathered educators and superiors, but a death in her family took precedence, and she asked Penet to take her place.
Penet galvanized those present with her assessment of the need for integrated sister education.
Penet led the survey committee in presenting their findings to multiple concerned groups--superiors, bishops, and superintendents.