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85-Year-Old Shirley Smith Gets Honorary High School Diploma 

Shirley Smith, raised on a tobacco farm in Wilmington, North Carolina, moved to Somerville, New Jersey, in 1956 when tobacco prices fell. Given the choice between school and work by her father, Smith chose work and began a varied career before marrying and starting her own family in Georgia. Despite not finishing her own education, she prioritized schooling for her children, ensuring they attended in exchange for living at home. Her dedication bore fruit, with her children and grandchildren attending top universities like Texas A&M and Montclair University. 

Smith never missed a graduation and took great pride in her family's achievements. Throughout her life, Smith worked in her church and as a missionary, caring for the sick and poor. Her faith and family support kept her strong, providing her children with a stable home. Recently, Smith celebrated her 85th birthday with family and friends, where she reflected on her legacy. During the celebration, she was honored by being awarded a high school diploma 67 years after she left school.

"I think it's an honor, and I think it's a blessing… I'm really appreciative, and I'm really thankful to God. I always try to figure out, 'What do people see in me?' I draw people, no matter what color they are, who they are – I just draw people," said Smith. 

Surprised and grateful, Smith dressed in a purple and white dress under her cap and gown to receive her honorary diploma. She viewed the moment as a blessing from God and felt honored by the recognition. Smith expressed deep appreciation and noted how she naturally connects with people. Surrounded by loved ones, she celebrated the milestone with many photos. When asked about her future plans, Smith humorously remarked that she was preparing for heaven to receive her ultimate reward from God.

"I'm getting ready to go to heaven; that's what I'm getting ready to do. I'm going to get my reward from him," Smith said with a smile. 


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