It's never too late: 77-year-old gets her GED

Clearwater, Florida -- Mary Meah wanted to feel fulfilled so she decided this summer to go back to school. She wasn't the only adult in her GED class, but she was the only one 20 years older than the instructor.

"She was a great teacher," Meah said.

The GED was instituted in 1942. Meah was born in 1937 and left school as a 14-year-old to pursue an apprenticeship with a hair salon.

"Oh I didn't want to leave school. I cried," she said. "I was frightened. You know, I'm going out into the world at 14. But back in those days the money was important. I was going to go out to earn money."

After driving passed a sign at Countryside High School advertising GEDs, she decided to go back to school. She had no trouble with four of the five subject requirements – reading, writing, science and social studies – but the math portion of the test really gave her fits.

"I encouraged her all the way through," said her husband, John. "Secretly, I always wished I was brighter math-wise so I could help her."

After nine attempts to pass the difficult math exam, Mary got through it and earned her GED. She hung it in the front room of her house next to the picture of her grandmother – a woman who couldn't read and write.

On Aug. 21, Mary will walk across the stage and officially graduate, 63 years after leaving school the first time around.

"It will be a fabulous day," she said. "It's never too late."

VIDEO: Extended interview with 77-year-old who got GED


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