Jessie 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.