PANAMA CITY, Fla.- In August of 2018, 80-year-old Haney Technical student, Mary Roberts was working towards her GED.
“She was a great woman. A woman of faith and strong determination. One of 18 children, did not know how to read and decided some years ago she wanted to do that. When she learned to read, she decided she wanted to get her GED,” said Mary’s Nephew, Gene Keen.
Mary Roberts is described as determined, hard-working, and so much more. “I think she was here for a purpose. I think she was here for more than just to get her diploma, I think she was here for inspiration to others as well,” said GED/ Adult Basic Education Teacher, Angela Carpenter.
Roberts, also known as “Miss Mary” came to class every day, ready to learn, and worked hard towards her GED but unfortunately, she fell ill and was diagnosed with cancer. As a result, she was put in hospice care.
Staff at Haney knew how badly she wanted that diploma, so they made sure she got one and awarded her an honorary GED. The staff brought a diploma to her home along with a cap and gown.
“Our hearts were just so full because it’s hard to express how much it meant to her to gain that diploma,” said Keen.
However, just days later, Miss Mary passed away.
Family members knew what that diploma and graduation meant to her so they buried her in her cap and gown. “Her husband said, that’s what I want her buried in and my sister-in-law said well that’s what we were thinking too so they made that happen for her,” said Keen.
“To see her in her cap and gown at rest, it was emotional for me but I knew in her heart that’s what she’d want,” said Carpenter.
Angela Carpenter, who taught Miss Mary keeps her special chair close to her desk as a reminder of the student she’ll never forget.