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This Grandma Is Finishing High School At 77 And She Couldn't Be More Excited

"They just classified me 'stupid.' I did finish Grade 5, and I decided that was enough of that because I just couldn't get anywhere."

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This is Monique Trottier and her granddaughter Brittny Berekoff. Although separated in age by six decades, later this month they're graduating from high school together.

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It was a lifelong dream of Trottier's to get her high school diploma. Growing up in Montreal in the 1940s and '50s, Trottier said she struggled in school, especially with reading.

"They just classified me 'stupid.' I did finish Grade 5, and I decided that was enough of that because I just couldn't get anywhere," she told BuzzFeed Canada.

"By the time I was 14, my mom and dad said, 'If you're not going to go to school then you're going to go to work.' That's what I did."

Over the years, Trottier had a bunch of different jobs, moved all over the country, got married, and raised a big family. But she always felt like she was missing out.

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"Growing up without an education is very difficult. I felt very ashamed and just not worth much," she said. "I hid it pretty good, but that's how I felt inside."

That feeling is what made Trottier push her own five children to do well academically. It wasn't until later in life, when Trottier tried to pick up her education again in the 1970s, that she learned the truth about why she had struggled in school.

"They put me in Grade 9, and that's where the English teacher discovered that I was dyslexic," she said. "That was my main problem all my life. What I was seeing and how my hand was reacting in the writing just didn't go together at all."

After several stops and starts, Trottier went back to finish Grade 12 earlier this year in Red Deer, Alberta, at the school where her daughter Tammy teaches, and her granddaughter Brittny is a senior.

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"Once I got married and had children I knew I had to take care of them. So I focused on them rather than on myself. But it was always in the back of my mind to get that education and to get that diploma," Trottier said.

She has discovered that she really enjoys school. She was never stupid, she said, just not given the support she needed when she was younger.

"I would have liked to have done it even 30 years ago. But the doors are open when they are, and we have to walk through them," she said. "That's the choice we have."

When she walks across the stage on June 23 to finally get that diploma, she will be 77 years old.

For Trottier's granddaughter, going to school with her Nana has been an interesting experience. "It's very inspirational," Berekoff said. "It's very exciting to see her learning stuff."

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Trottier said she has been trying not to think about graduation too much, but she was struck by the magnitude of the moment while working on an English assignment recently.

"All of a sudden this light came on. 'This is Grade 12. I am doing Grade 12.' It just blows me away because I never thought in a million years I would get that [far] in school," she said.

She added that seeing her granddaughter and other young people at school has filled her with a renewed ambition.

"It's a grandmother's dream to see her go through this, and she's very wise and ambitious," Trottier said of Berekoff. "She's going on to college and university, and I just might follow behind her."

Ishmael N. Daro is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto. PGP fingerprint: 5A1D 9099 3497 DA4B

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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