97 year old woman gets high school diploma after trying 80 years

Published On: Thursday, November 22, 2012 12:30 PM
By: Shifra Unger
Ann Colagiovanni 97 year old gets high school diploma
It takes high school students over four years to obtain their diploma, but 97-year-old Ann Colagiovanni a dropout, graduation has been eight decades in the making.

The last time Colagiovanni or Lupica Anna as she was known in the 1930s, sat in a classroom, Franklin Roosevelt was president and the Great Depression was at its peak.

At 17 years, the statuesque beauty of black hair left school to help her family financially by working in her father's business, the market of edible meat Lupica, in Shaker Heights, Ohio, according to the news media.

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

But on Wednesday, the 97-year-old lifelong dream of becoming a graduate has finally come true when Shaker Heights High School awarded her with an award winning honor from June 1934.

"That's when we think would be the appropriate time," said Mark Freeman, Shaker Heights School District Superintendent, to Colagiovanni.


After leaving high school, Colagiovanni continued working at the family store until it closed in the 1960s. Eventually she married and had two daughters and 11 grandchildren.

The title, however, was the one piece of the puzzle that really was lost, according to her daughter. "When she said she was getting a diploma, she sobbed as if pain had been relieved of her heart," said Colagiovanni Vinci. "I never knew what it meant to her." As friends and family Sir Edward Elgar hummed "Pomp and Circumstance," the nonagenarian proud woman entered a classroom with the help of a walker wearing a white cap and gown.