Ninety-Nine-Year-Old Maine Woman Receives Her Diploma After 75 Years

degreeBealJessie White finally has her sheep skin. White, 99, was supposed to receive her degree in stenography and bookkeeping in 1939, but she lacked the $5 fee for her transcript. As a result, she never received the diploma until Alan Stehle, the president of Beal College in Bangor, learned of her fate and ponied up the money to release the diploma.


What is interesting is that Beal College was founded in 1891 as Bangor Business College but was later named after its primary founder, Mary Beal.

The College threw a graduation party that was just 75 years delayed to celebrate her accomplishment. White is an extraordinary person who fought polio disability but still was able to secure a job as a bookkeeper. It took years because employers saw her crutches and turned her away.

What stuck me most about this story was a glimpse into a time past when there were few real degrees that were available for women. Stenography and bookkeeping were viewed as acceptable positions. We still have such pioneers as White living among us. It shows that, while we rightfully denounce some Muslim countries for their mistreatment of women, it was not that long ago when such cultural barriers existed in this country.

Just to give you an idea of when White earned this degree: In 1939 the following event occurred . . .

–Amelia Earhart is officially declared dead

–The Spanish Civil War occurred

— Lou Gehrig, the legendary Yankee first baseman ended his career after contracting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

— Theodore Roosevelt’s head is dedicated at Mount Rushmore.

— Germany invaded Poland

— Nylon stockings go on sale for the first time.

— The film Gone with the Wind premieres at Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia.

And, of course, we now know Jessie White finished college at Beal.

Congratulations Jessie. All good things come to those who wait.

Source: CNN

14 thoughts on “Ninety-Nine-Year-Old Maine Woman Receives Her Diploma After 75 Years”

  1. Congrats to Jessie on her long delayed honor. Now, can she get a job with that degree?? 🙂

    1. Think what $5 was worth in today’s money. Using an inflation calculator that $5 comes out to $83 for transcript fees today. Can you spell RIPOFF?

  2. Good for her! I got my Bachelor’s and Master’s later in my life also. I do wish I could’ve done it earlier, but family obligations came first.

  3. This is a testament to the fact that colleges and universities still want to get that last drop of blood out of you before you graduate. Transcript fee, indeed!!!! Extortion!!!

  4. This is all very nice, but a lot of good the degree is going to do her now. She needed it 75 years ago.

  5. Many other things happened in 1939, one of which was the publication of the first edition of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous (the first book that I am aware of which connects moral issues with addiction issues through the idea of a “searching and fearless moral inventory,” and another of which was my being born a an autistic person who would seek to understand the biology of addiction as a plausible mechanism underlying the whole realm of apparent human malaise.

    Deception, as a social norm, has to be both contagious and addictive in order to sustain its presence in human society through ceaselessly prevailing over directly observable truthful honesty.

    Deception, for me, resoundingly meets all the criteria I can grasp for being accurately recognized as a dangerously life-threatening disease.

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