97 Year Old Achieves Lifelong Goal to Graduate

When Margaret Thome Bekema was a junior at Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids, Mich., she was forced to drop out to care for her cancer-stricken mother and her three siblings.

Bekema dreamed of achieving her lifelong goal to graduate, and on Thursday she received her diploma — 79 years after she was supposed to graduate.

In front of friends and family, school administrators presented the 97 year old with an honorary diploma at Yorkshire and Stonebridge Manor senior community in Walker, Mich.

"After all of these years, representing all of the core values for which our school stands, we proudly recognize Margaret with an official honorary diploma," Principal Greg Deja said.

Bekema's family contacted the school and shared her story, according to TIME.

Upon receiving her diploma, Bekema said, tearing up: "I don't know how to express my thanks… I'm sorry. I'm just plain chicken."

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