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70-year-old UCS graduate shares inspiring message: "Follow Your Dreams"
70-year-old UCS graduate shares inspiring message: "Follow Your Dreams"
Posted on 05/05/2021
Hermelinda Sporea in cap and gownFor the Class of 2021, there are inspiring stories of determination and perseverance of graduating during a global pandemic. 

But for one special graduate, this story becomes more powerful when you consider her diploma comes nearly 60 years after she was first set to go to high school. 

“If I could graduate at this age, all of you can do it,” said 70-year-old UCS graduate Hermelinda Sporea. “Follow your dreams.”

Sporea’s lifelong dream will become reality on June 6 when she is handed her diploma as a member of the Utica Community Schools Adult Education Class of 2021. 

Originally scheduled to begin high school in 1963, Sporea left school when work and school became too difficult to balance. 

Since then, she has accomplished a great deal – getting married, raising five kids and owning her own small business – but the high school diploma remained an elusive goal.

That changed four years ago, when her daughter Elizabetha Sancen, who worked at UCS Community Education, encouraged her to begin taking high school completion classes.

“I really feel like the tables have turned. I was like her parent – taking her first day of school pictures,” Sancen said. “I was like a proud mama bear.”

For Sporea, the past four years have gone quickly – filled with homework and late night studying. 

“Education got harder. It isn’t like it used to be many years back,” she said.

As much as the diploma is the realization of a personal goal, she wanted to send a message to her 17 grandchildren, from eight months to 20 years of age. 

“If grandma can do this, you can too,” she said. “Don’t let me down.”