Margaret Thome Bekema, a 97-year-old grandmother from Michigan, cried tears of joy as she was presented with an honorary high school diploma in front of family and friends.
She was meant to graduate from Grand Rapids Catholic Central High back in 1936 but was forced to drop out of school at 17 in order to take care of her siblings and cancer-riddled mother.
However, thanks to a distant relative, Bekema 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.”