8 Decades After Her Anticipated Graduation Date, This 97-Year-Old Just Proved It’s Never Too Late

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97-year-old Margaret Bekema was supposed to graduate high school in 1936.

But her mom unexpectedly passed away when she was only a teen, so Margaret had to take on the responsibility of caring for her home at a young age. Family priorities forced school onto the back burner.

Margaret did go on to the armed forces to do some clerical work and became a preschool teacher shortly after, but she always wanted to finish her high school diploma.

… And 80 years later, she finally did.


On October 29, 2015, she got her honorary degree from Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“Catholic Central is proud to honor Margaret with the diploma she should have received long ago. Even though Margaret never officially completed high school, her story as a former Catholic Central student has impacted the school and our community,” said principal Greg Deja in a recent press release. “The selfless way Margaret lived her life truly embodies Catholic Central’s core values and we are proud to now officially claim her as a Catholic Central alumna.”

As Deja proudly presented the diploma at the Yorkshire and Stonebridge Manors, Bekema tearfully responded, “I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

“I am thrilled that my mother’s life-long dream of receiving her high school diploma is finally being fulfilled,” said her daughter, Gerri Smith.

Though Margaret has accomplished a great deal in the century she’s been on this earth, she always felt an absence from never achieving her high school diploma.

Well, at the ripe age of 97, this “finisher” just proved it’s never too late.

Whether you’re 17, 27 or 97, it’s always a good time to go back to school, sharpen your mind—and finish what you started.


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