Grandmother to be Named High School Valedictorian


A 65-year-old grandma is graduating high school this week, but that’s not the only thing she’s accomplished this year. Twyanna Williams was also the valedictorian of her class at Philadelphia’s South Philadelphia High School. She’s among the many students enrolled in the city’s Educational Options Program, which enables students to earn a degree as well as their high school diploma.

“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,” Williams told TODAY.

She says she hopes to inspire other people her age to go back to school.

When Williams was 15, she dropped out of school to get a job. She was trying to help her mother pay some bills after she divorced Williams’ father. She’s now a grandmother of four and retired, but she remained focused on completing her education.

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

For Williams, 2020 seemed like the “right time” to go back to school through the EOP. It was in early 2020 that schools adjusted to offer online learning, but completing her diploma from home suited Williams just fine.

“I was like, ‘This is 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.”

She was provided with a computer by her school and didn’t miss any days. “I was there every day. I was set up every day in front of that computer,” she said.

Williams worked in factories, hotels, fast-food restaurants, and hospitals for 40 years before retiring, and believes that there is always time to go back to school, no matter who you are.

“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,” she said. “Education is very important.”


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