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97-Year-Old Finally, Finally, Gets Her Diploma

Ann Colagiovanni

Eighty years is a long time to wait, but for Ann Colagiovanni, the wait was worth it. This 97-year-old grandma’s road to a diploma spans eight decades and is simultaneously incredibly sad and utterly heartwarming.

Colagiovanni actually wanted to graduate from high school when she was seventeen, but unfortunately, the Great Depression had other plans. Her father needed her to work in his market, so she put her education aside, even though she was close to graduating, and went to work.

Over the years, she had two children, and worked at the market until it closed in the 1960s, but never had the time to go back and finish off her education. This year, though, her grandson, Thomas Vinci, was graduating from her same high school, Shaker Heights High School, so her family put in a request for an honorary diploma, something superintendent Mark Freeman was happy to grant.

“When I told her she was getting a diploma, she sobbed as if a pain had been relieved from her heart,” [daughter Emilia] Vinci said. “I never knew what it meant to her. She wanted this.”

Ann graduated with her grandson, and her diploma is dated June, 1934, the year she would have graduated.

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