Ann Colagiovanni, has finally received a high school diploma from Shaker Heights High School in Ohio.
The Ohio resident never returned to finish her education after the Great Depression but instead became a student of life.
She worked at the family store until the 1960s when it closed. She got married and has two daughters and 11 grandchildren.
The 97 year old was the oldest member of the class of 2012 and appeared in the news video in a white cap and gown, at a special ceremony at Shaker Heights High School, which presented her with an honorary diploma–in her name–dated June 1934.
“Finally, I’m going to be a graduate,” she says.
Daughter Emilia Colagiovanni Vinci told Fox 8 Cleveland, “When I told her she was getting a diploma, she sobbed as if a pain had been relieved from her heart,” adding, “I never knew what it meant to her. She wanted this.”
Emilia noted that during the Depression, work was more important than an education.
Grandma isn’t the only graduate this year: Her grandson, Thomas Vinci, will also receive a diploma from the suburban Cleveland high school one day after his grandmother.
Emilia Colagiovanni Vinci said, “She did what her father wanted her to do, even though she wanted to graduate. She put her father, her family, before herself.”
Seventy-eight years later, Ann Colagiovanni finally put herself first.