1936 Margaret Bekema graduated high school…well, not really. That was the original date of the ceremony she never attended.
Bekema, now 97-years-old, unfotunately dropped out of Catholic Central High School. As a young girl, she was forced to take on the responsibilities of an adult after her mother passed away. Running a home, taking care of children, and mending clothes became the teenagers new priorities.
As a young woman, Bekema eventually found a career in clerical work before serving in the armed forces. Finally, she found her calling, spending the rest of her days as a preschool teacher. Nearly eighty years later, on October 29, the senior citizen finally received her honorary high school degree from the Grand Rapids, Michigan high school.
“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.
At a senior living center in Walker, Michigan, Deja handed the 97-year-old her high school diploma. At last, Bekema was a graduate -eight decades later. She gladly accepted the degree overcome with tears of joy.
Gerri Smith, Bekema’s daughter, explained her mother always carried a sense of regret, not having earned a high school diploma. Its absence bothered her for years.
“I am thrilled that my mother’s life-long dream of receiving her high school diploma is finally being fulfilled,” said Smith.
Bekema was honored with quite the celebration. In a formal graduation cap, the 97-year-old accepted kind wishes and heartfelt ‘congratulations’ from friends and family. Bekema’s response at receiving her diploma was the perfect bookend to the entire event.
“I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said Bekema.