Ala. Woman, 94, Receives High School Diploma 79 Years After Dropping Out: 'Better Late Than Never'
A high school graduation 79 years in the making!
On Wednesday, Grace Lee McClure Smith celebrated her high school graduation at age 94, thanks to a special honorary ceremony put together by one of her grandchildren, according to WAAY-TV.
"I am so grateful," she told the outlet. "It's better late than never, isn't it?"
Smith reportedly dropped out of Hazel Green High School at the age of 16 in 1942, as her husband went off to fight in World War II.
"She never ever mentioned regretting anything in life. She would never take it back because she absolutely loved my grandfather and that was just what she wanted to do, but I think this was very important to her," her granddaughter Erin Wilson, who helped arrange the ceremony, told WAAY.
Even without getting her degree, the Alabama woman kept education close to her heart, working as a bus driver for the Madison County School Systems.
"She came back and for more than 30 years, she drove a school bus in Madison County, she served our students and got them safely to school and safely home for 30 years," school official Tim Hall told CBS affiliate WHNT.
Over the years, she also encouraged her family to continue on with their studies.
"Growing up when I was in school, I actually rode her bus to and from school," said Wilson, a teacher at Legacy Elementary School. "She was a role model for a lot of kids and she's always telling the stories."
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"Congratulations, Mrs. Smith!" the school wrote on their Facebook account, alongside a photo of the graduate posing in her cap and gown on her happy day.
"I feel like I don't deserve it, " Smith told WHNT. "There's a lot more people that are much more deserving than me. I'm just doing my job, love it. I love most of it most of the time. Good times!"