A 97-year-old woman has received an honorary diploma from a Michigan high school, eight decades after she was forced to drop out to help her family.
Margaret Thome Bekema finally was able to don a mortarboard and fulfill her lifelong goal in front of her friends and family on Thursday. School administrators from Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids presented her with the diploma at the Yorkshire and Stonebridge Manor senior community in Walker.
Bekema would have graduated with the Class of 1936, but she left during her junior year to care for her three younger siblings because her mother was ill with cancer.
She said leaving school at age 17 broke her heart and she’s thankful for the recognition.
Grand Rapids is about 160 miles northwest of Detroit.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.