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Watch 111-year-old finally graduate high school

  • Her schooling was interrupted by the influenza pandemic in 1918
  • She started working at a young age & wasn't able to return to school

Lela Babb Burden is 111 years old and she finally received an honorary diploma from Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia, on Tuesday. The influenza pandemic temporarily closed schools and other public buildings in Norfolk in 1918, and she never made it back to school. She was able to work cleaning houses for 50 cents a day and also serving at a restaurant making $3 a week. Later, she would marry and raise two children. “You just worked for an honest living,” she said, according to a Norfolk Schools press release. She is listed by the Gerontology Research Group as a supercentenarian (a person of 110 years or older), awaiting final verification of her vital records to confirm her status. “I just thank God that he let me live,” she said. “I hope I’ll be here a long time.”

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