A 97-year-old Michigan woman, Margaret Thome Bekema finally received her high school diploma, 80 years after she was forced to drop out. Last week, Margaret received an honorary diploma from Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids. The school honored her as an alumna of 1936 with a Certificate of Membership to the school’s alumni association “The Pride.”
Margaret chose to drop out of high school when her mother was stricken with cancer and she had three younger siblings to care for. Her father couldn’t do it alone so he needed Margaret to step in and be an adult while other girls her age were going to dances and giggling about boys.
“She said her heart was broken when she dropped out and today was just a small part to lift that heart,” Catholic Central principal Greg Deja said. “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.”
“I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Margaret said. “I had to quit school to take over the family. It was hard, you have no idea how hard that was. I loved high school and I had lots of friends.” Can you imagine being thrown from your happy, normal teenage life to deal with what she went through?
Despite dropping out of high school during her junior year, Margaret went on to do clerical work for the armed forces and later became a preschool teacher at Grace Episcopal Church for 17 years. She is now a widow, has two children, four grandchildren, and one great-grandson.
“Her life has been one of sacrifice and service,” said Deja. “It has been so encouraging and inspiring for our community because her choices represent all the core values that we teach our students.”
I know personally what it’s like when life sometimes gets in the way of your plans. Margareet put others before herself and eventually it paid off. I can’t imagine what a wonderful surprise it was for her to finally achieve her diploma after so long. We wish Margaret all the best and maybe she will even take some college courses. She’s living proof that you are never too old to acheive anything.
Please SHARE if you are touched by Margaret’s story and think she’s adorable in her cap!