‘NEVER TOO LATE': 75-year-old Eupora woman gets high school diploma

Eudora native Mary Smith poses after receiving her high school diploma on Sunday. (Photo by Ryan Phillips, SDN)

SDN Editor

Countless people have walked across the stage to get their high school diploma, but few can say the presenter was their adult daughter. 

Such was the case for 75-year-old Mary Smith, who was one of three graduates from Ms. Smith’s Educational Services. The trio received their diplomas during a small, but lively ceremony at the Starkville Sportsplex on Sunday afternoon. 

Mary Carr, Smith’s mother, waited on the opposite side of the stage after Smith’s name was called and the two embraced when the diploma was presented. 

Smith was also joined by Ronnie D. Cooper, Jr. and Josiah D. Smith, who accepted a diploma on behalf of his cousin Darrius Romel Fisher-Smith. 

West Point minister Rev. Detric Anderson served as the keynote speaker, and Jarvis Boyd and Rev. Jackie Rogers delivered charges to the men and women, respectively. 

The small graduation ceremony was a long time coming for Mary Smith, who left school in the 8th grade and tried multiple times to complete a high school equivalency. 

She didn’t give up though, even after becoming a mother and when certain programs wouldn’t take her because of her age. 

“I enjoyed it and did what I had to do to get here,” Smith said, still holding her glass-framed diploma after taking multiple pictures with friends and family. 

The toughest part of the program for Smith, like many, came with math. But again, that was a mountain she could climb. 

“Learning how to multiply, do fractions, I had to learn all of that,” she laughed. 

Tonya Davis, co-director of the organization, said Smith was a particularly good student because she already had a goal set. 

“I would say for Mrs. Mary, she retained quite a bit and it was really just a refresher for her,” Davis said. “It was really easier to work with her than younger people because she already knew the value of an education, so we didn’t have to convince her.” 

Ms.Smith’s Educational Services, founded by Niya Smith, offers tutoring and test prep for all ages. 

Sunday’s ceremony marked the fifth class to graduate, with includes more that 40 students. 

“I just would like to say stay encouraged,” Davis commented. “It’s never too late to learn because learning is a lifetime process and if you’re determined there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.”

Carr beamed with a sense of pride watching her mother overcome adversity and cross the stage.

“It means the world to me because I always encouraged her and told her knowledge means more than anything,” Carr said. “It’s good if you pass the test, but what you learn is what’s important.”

Smith enjoyed the moment on Sunday and offered a bit of advice to those who may want to finish their education. 

“Just keep on going.”