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97-Year-Old Cries Tears Of Joy After She Finally Gets Her High School Diploma
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People, Social Issues6 years ago

97-Year-Old Cries Tears Of Joy After She Finally Gets Her High School Diploma

Margaret Thome Bekema, 97, never graduated from Grand Rapids Catholic Central High in 1936 like she was supposed to. Instead, in 1932, she was forced to leave school to take care of her siblings and her mother who was sick with cancer. However, thanks to a distant relative, Bekema recently received an honorary diploma, just 79 years after she was supposed to graduate.

“I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Bekema told Mlive. “I had to quit school to take over the family. It was hard, you have no idea how hard that was. I loved high school and I had lots of friends.” Central Principal Greg Deja added, “her life has been one of sacrifice and service. It has been so encouraging and inspiring for our community because her choices represent all the core values that we teach our students.”

(h/t: mlive)

97-year-old Margaret Bekema burst into tears when she was presented with her graduation cap

She received an honorary highschool diploma 79 years after she was supposed to graduate

Bekema was forced to leave school at 17 to take care of her siblings and sick mother

Principal Greg Deja presented Bekema with her diploma

Touchingly, it’s dated the year Bekema would have graduated

“I had to quit school to take over the family. It was hard, you have no idea how hard that was. I loved high school and I had lots of friends”

Bekema even received her school letter!

Image credits: Emily Rose Bennett / AP

Watch a new report on the event below:

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LindaHeath
Community Member
6 years ago

Personally I think it was was wonderful and a very thoughtful thing to do. Kudos to the school and the principal. Enjoy your diploma Mrs Bekema you deserve it!

TerriGold
Community Member
6 years ago

I love this.

AnnaSalerno
Community Member
6 years ago

I'll bet the school would have done this a lot sooner if they had known about it. I know how happy this lady must have been. I earned mine after 14 years having my principal present me with it. I went to night school on and off having lived in Europe for two years in between going to night school in PA and TX having to take my final course from Texas Tech in a correspondence course to get my final credit. I was so proud of myself for sticking to it while raising three children and taking care of a family. It meant the world to me.

person (i think)
Community Member
5 years ago

You have the type of drive that is really inspirational to me. Thank you for sharing your story.

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LindaHeath
Community Member
6 years ago

Personally I think it was was wonderful and a very thoughtful thing to do. Kudos to the school and the principal. Enjoy your diploma Mrs Bekema you deserve it!

TerriGold
Community Member
6 years ago

I love this.

AnnaSalerno
Community Member
6 years ago

I'll bet the school would have done this a lot sooner if they had known about it. I know how happy this lady must have been. I earned mine after 14 years having my principal present me with it. I went to night school on and off having lived in Europe for two years in between going to night school in PA and TX having to take my final course from Texas Tech in a correspondence course to get my final credit. I was so proud of myself for sticking to it while raising three children and taking care of a family. It meant the world to me.

person (i think)
Community Member
5 years ago

You have the type of drive that is really inspirational to me. Thank you for sharing your story.

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