It’s been nearly 50 years, but Doreen Markham can say she finally has her Dogwood Diploma.
Markham graduated with straight As this year from the Key Learning Centre, a cause for celebration after she dropped out of school in Grade 9 to help take care of her family.
“I feel pretty darn good. It’s an accomplishment,” said Markham, now 64.
Markham started working towards finishing her diploma last August; she had applied for work with the school district, but was told she needed Grade 12.
Markham, born and raised in Clayhurst, says life got in the way of studies as child. She spent her early school days at Clearview, and then moved into town with her mother to attend Bert Bowes.
Markham was supposed to graduate in 1974, but quit school at the start of Grade 9 to help her family pay the bills. Her father had died years earlier in a farming accident in 1961. Markham was the fifth of seven siblings, which her mother raised as a single parent.
"A lot of people stop not because they want to, but because they have to," said Markham.
Years went by and Markham soon found herself as an adult with a family of her own, and a marriage that’s lasted more than 45 years.
“I went to country school for the first seven years of my life. But I was a stay-at-home mom, and a stained glass artist,” said Markham, whose work can be found around the North Peace, including at the Charlie Lake Church.
Markham says she's grateful for her family, especially her daughter and her two grandkids, ages 8 and 14. And she spoke highly of the staff at the Key Learning Centre.
“They are totally awesome. You couldn’t ask for better people to be around and work with,” said Markham.
Markham had simple words of wisdom to future graduates.
"Don't ever let anyone tell you that your life experiences don't mean anything, you're never too old to learn. Never give up," she said.
Read more: NPSS graduation parade set for June 19
Email reporter Tom Summer at firstname.lastname@example.org.