Miriam Schreiber of Hartford, Connecticut, is proof that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true.
At 7 years old, the Poland native’s life was turned upside down when World War II began. School was no longer a possibility, as she and her family members spent years evading the Nazis. While Miriam came out a survivor, she’s always wished she could have continued her education. This year, she finally made that dream come true by transforming her regret into a well-deserved achievement!
Instead of starting first grade in September 1939, Miriam was forced to flee her Warsaw home with her family. They were on the move for months, hiding from Nazis in villages and forests, but unfortunately, it didn’t last. They were discovered and sent to a slave labor camp in Siberia, where Miriam watched her loved ones freeze and starve for six years.
At long last, they were liberated when Miriam was 14. A year later, she met fellow survivor Saul Schreiber at a displaced persons camp in Germany. The two of them quickly fell in love and got married after another year. Together, they decided to move to the U.S., where they raised their two sons.
While Miriam never got the chance to go back to school, she refused to stop learning! She already knew Polish and Yiddish and went on to teach herself English, German, Hebrew, and Swedish.
“I educated myself,” she told The Washington Post. “I read books day and night. I still do.”
Not only did her resilience inspire her children, but it also encouraged the entire senior class at Hartford’s New England Jewish Academy. Once they heard her story, each student agreed that she deserved an honorary diploma. So on August 16, the 88-year-old finally fulfilled her dream of graduating from high school!
Though her husband passed away nine years ago, the rest of her family, which includes four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, was there to support her virtually! While they sent her sweet video messages, her son Bernie shared how proud he was in person.
“We became successful because of my parents,” he said. “My brother Bob was able to buy and build his own business successfully. I credit my parents, but especially my mother, for her dogged determination.”
For Miriam, it was a dream come true — one that was 81 years in the making!
“When I finally got the diploma, I kissed it,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe it was mine.”
Congratulations, Miriam! We’re wishing you all the best as you enjoy your days of peace and learning!
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