Just amazing: 17-year-old graduates with her great-grandad

Mercedez Birnie is a regular 17 year old, getting ready to graduate from New York’s Rome Free Academy. But she’ll be sharing her big day with someone very special: her great-grandfather, Armando Castro. After leaving school 72 years ago, Castro is wrapping up his high school education and gets to experience the thrill of being handed a diploma alongside Birnie.

“He’s 90 years old and he still has it all together,” Birnie told CNY Central. “It’s amazing and so inspiring.”

Castro wasn’t able to finish his education 72 years ago because he left school early to join the Navy in 1942. It was a hard decision, but one he felt good about as he was able to help his financially struggling family.

“It did help,” he told CNY. “It was nice to give my mother $15 a week. To them it was big money in those days.”

And now, after postponing his education to serve his country and help his family, he is getting that diploma. His proud great-granddaughter, who will be walking with him, is naturally inspired.

“It’s amazing, there’s no words,” she added.

Well, there is one word: Congratulations, to both Birnie and Castro on this awesome accomplishment!

Check out a video of the grads sharing their special day over at CY Central.

(Image via CY Central video)