PARIS, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) – 102-year-old Gladys Wright earned her diploma decades after dropping out due to a severe illness.

Going back to school is an idea that Wright has contemplated for a while.

“We were sitting at the kitchen table and I said to her if she wants to get her diploma and she said sure,” says Wrights daughter, Sandy Templeton.

Gladys was greeted by friends, family and lawmakers at her ceremony. As a surprise, she received the key to city from Paris Mayor Craig Smith. Mayor Smith also declared that July 7th be recognized as ‘Gladys Wright Day’.

“It’s an honor for us to be able to recognize Gladys,” says Paris 95 Superintendent, Dr. Jeremy Larson. “She has been a role model for everyone to recognize that learning does not stop at a certain age. That there is dignity and respect held in education.”

Now a high school graduate, Gladys was eager to encourage others like her to follow in her footsteps.

“If you or any of your friends have not finished their high school diploma, you tell them to get after it because it’s well worth it,” says Wright.