97-year-old gets high school diploma

·Claudine Zap
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Here's one graduate who may feel a little more senior than most: Ann Colagiovanni, 97 years old, is finally receiving her high school diploma.

The Depression-era student quit school at the age of 17, back in 1930s, to work in her father's market.

The Ohio resident never returned to finish her education but instead became a student of life. She worked at the family store until the 1960s when it closed. She got married and has two daughters and 11 grandchildren.

Daughter Emilia Colagiovanni Vinci told Fox 8 Cleveland, "When I told her she was getting a diploma, she sobbed as if a pain had been relieved from her heart," adding, "I never knew what it meant to her. She wanted this."

Emilia noted that during the Depression, work was more important than an education.

But receiving a diploma certainly seemed important to the nonagenarian. The oldest member of the class of 2012 appears in the news video in a white cap and gown, at a special ceremony at Shaker Heights High School, which presented her with an honorary diploma--in her name--dated June 1934. "Finally, I'm going to be a graduate," she says.

Grandma isn't the only graduate this year: Her grandson, Thomas Vinci, will also receive a diploma from the suburban Cleveland high school one day after his grandmother.

Emilia Colagiovanni Vinci said, "She did what her father wanted her to do, even though she wanted to graduate. She put her father, her family, before herself."

Seventy-eight years later, Ann Colagiovanni finally put herself first.

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