Woman, 94, Receives High School Diploma: 'Better Late Than Never'

A woman who graduated from high school at the age of 94 said "it's better late than never" after accepting her honorary diploma.

Grace Lee McClure Smith, from Madison County, Alabama, graduated from Hazel Green High School on Wednesday.

Smith dropped out of high school at the age of 16 in 1942. WAAY31 reported that this was so her husband could serve in World War II

Smith later worked as a bus driver for the Madison County School system for 30 years and still remembers a lot of the people she drove to and from school.

Despite not finishing high school herself the first time around, she always instilled the importance of education in her children, grandchildren, and 26 great-grandchildren.

Her granddaughter, Erin Wilson, a teacher at Legacy Elementary School, told WAAY 31: "She drove me, actually, on the school bus, so I rode with her to and from school. And she always encouraged me to go to school, make sure I finish school, and now she encourages my girls."

Wilson was the one who arranged for her grandmother to receive her honorary degree as a surprise. She told WAAY 31: "She never ever mentioned regretting anything in life.

"She would never take it back because she absolutely loved my grandfather and that was just what she wanted to do, but I think this was very important to her."

Smith told WHNT: "I feel like I don't deserve it. There's a lot more people that are much more deserving than me."

In separate comments reported by WAAY31, Smith said: "I am so grateful, thank you so much. It's better late than never, isn't it."

WHNT reported that the director of PR at Hazel Green High School, Tim Hall, said: "She came back and for more than 30 years, she drove a school bus in Madison County, she served our students and got them safely to school and safely home for 30 years."

On social media, Hazel Green High School shared a news report on Smith's graduation and simply said: "Congratulations, Mrs. Smith!"

Newsweek has contacted Hazel Green High School for comment.

Last month, Vivian Cunningham, 78, was among the 553 students graduating in the Class of 2021 at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

She spent a total of six years earning her bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies and had previously earned an associate degree in Paralegal Studies from Virginia College while working full time.

Cunningham said in a statement: "Believe in yourself because you can do it. Keep God in the plan and you'll make it. Don't let anybody discourage you."

Graduates holding their caps
Stock photo of graduates holding their caps. A 94-year-old woman received her honorary high school diploma after serving the school district as a bus driver for 30 years. Prostock-Studio