Ohio Depression-era dropout, 97, gets a diploma

June 7, 2012 - 12:45 PM

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) — Ann Colagiovanni quit school during the Depression to work in her father's meat market. Eight decades later, she finally received a diploma.

Colagiovanni, 97, wore a white cap and gown Wednesday when she received an honorary diploma during a special ceremony at Shaker Heights High School in suburban Cleveland.

Seeing her name on the diploma brought tears to her eyes.

"I'm going to be a graduate," she said.

She was 17 when she quit high school to work in the family market, her relatives told WJW-TV in Cleveland (http://bit.ly/KjmqDp).

"It was the Depression years and working was more important than getting your education," said Ann's daughter, Emilia Colagiovanni Vinci. "She did what her father wanted her to do, even though she wanted to graduate. She put her father, her family, before herself."

Colagiovanni raised two daughters and worked at the market until it closed in the 1960s, but she never went back to school.

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

Shaker Heights Superintendent Mark Freeman said it was an honor to give her the diploma. It was dated June 1934, the year she would have graduated.

But she wasn't the only one in the family getting a diploma this week. Her grandson, Thomas Vinci, was graduating from Shaker Heights on Thursday.

"It's a big moment for us," he said while watching his grandmother in her cap and gown. "She looks so cute in that thing. I don't even really know what to think."

___

Information from: WJW-TV, http://www.fox8.com