Grandmother Graduates High School: ‘Overwhelmed’ to Be Valedictorian

A 65-year-old grandmother graduated high school this week and was “overwhelmed” to learn she was also named the valedictorian of her class at South Philadelphia High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“Oh, my goodness, I was overwhelmed,” Twyanna Williams told TODAY of her reaction upon learning she was named valedictorian.

“I was so ecstatic and excited and couldn’t believe that I did that. I made it that far? I was really excited. It was exciting for me and I felt important. I felt special,” she added.

Williams went on to say she hopes she can be an example to others her age.

“I hope I inspire people that are my age and older that’s dropped out of school to go back,” the retired grandmother of four said. “It’s not that bad.”

Williams dropped out of high school when she was 15, after her parents got divorced, to get a job to help her mother pay the bills. She went on to have two children of her own but never forgot about her education.

“That was always in the back of my head, to get my diploma,” she said.

In early 2020, Williams returned to school through Philadelphia’s Educational Options Program — a program that allows adults to earn their high school diplomas.

Due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, Williams ended up attending classes online, like millions of other students last year.

“It was good timing for me, because you couldn’t go out, couldn’t go anywhere,” she said. “I was like, ‘This a good chance to pass the time away.’ I’m retired. I’m 65, I’m not working anymore. I’m on a fixed income. So I was like, let me go back to school, this is my time to go back to school, get my diploma.”

Williams also mentioned she had perfect attendance, adding, “I didn’t miss any days. I was there every day. I was set up every day in front of that computer.”

The valedictorian grandmother — who worked in fast-food restaurants, factories, hotels, and hospitals for 40 years before she retired — wants others to know there is always time to go back to school.

“I would like for the whole world to know that it’s never too late to go back to school, no matter what age you drop out,” Williams said. “It’s never too late. It is important. Education is very important.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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