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This 99 Year-Old World War II Veteran Celebrates College Graduation

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This 99 Year-Old World War II Veteran Celebrates College Graduation

When World War II veteran Elizabeth Barker Johnson was celebrating her 99 birthday last month, she was shocked, not just by the surprise birthday party her loved ones threw her but also with a bigger surprise that she did not see coming.

After the birthday cake, Elizabeth was presented with a ruby-red cap and gown and an invitation to finally walk at Winston-Salem State University’s graduation, 70 years after she completed her teaching degree there.

“I couldn’t get anyone to substitute for me back then, so I had to miss my graduation. It was terrible. I just can’t believe this is happening. I really think I’m dreaming.” Elizabeth said further explaining that she had spent decades working as a teacher in Virginia.

After the birthday cake, Elizabeth was presented with a ruby-red cap and gown and an invitation to finally walk at Winston-Salem State University's graduation

After the birthday cake, Elizabeth was presented with a ruby-red cap and gown and an invitation to finally walk at Winston-Salem State University’s graduation

Elizabeth’s son, David Johnson, being able to walk in the May 10 graduation with WSSU’s Class of 2019 graduates is a dream come true for his mother. “That’s going to be probably the highest honor of her life,” David said. “The fact that she gets to graduate now, after all this time, is going to melt her heart. She deserves it.”

Elizabeth Johnson became the first female to attend WSSU on the GI Bill after serving in World War II as part of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion of the Women’s Army Corps, the only all-black female battalion made up of 855 women that was stationed overseas during the war.

Elizabeth’s  military service started by chance after she became inspired by a “I Want You for the U.S. Army” poster she found lying on the ground outside her home.

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After spending a year being stationed in Kentucky, she was sent to England, where she was tasked with handling the backlog of mail. “I like to tell people ‘She probably had a hand in getting mail from your grandmother to your grandfather. It was a really important job because it made sure people received mail from their loved ones back home and it kept them positive.” her granddaughter, Shandra Bryant, said.

Elizabeth had some close calls during the war. She narrowly missed a land mine that ended up killing three women driving in the vehicle in front of her.

“She was lucky and if she hadn’t been, I wouldn’t be here right now. She’s faced war, she’s faced racism along the way as the only black school teacher in her area for a long time. She’s such a remarkable woman.” David said.

99-year-old WWII veteran, Elizabeth Johnson, will walk at Winston-Salem State University's graduation

99-year-old WWII veteran, Elizabeth Johnson, will walk at Winston-Salem State University’s graduation

Elizabeth is 1 of only 5 women who were in her 855 women battalion that are alive today, and she was recently honored for her service at the U.S. House by Congresswoman Virginia Foxx.

After the war, she spent 40 years working as a middle school teacher and she always encouraged her kids and students to pursue higher education.

“From serving her country during World War II to impacting the lives of hundreds of students as a classroom teacher in North Carolina and Virginia, Elizabeth Barker Johnson is the embodiment of Winston-Salem State’s motto, ‘Enter to Learn. Depart to Serve. We are inspired by her and excited to give her the opportunity, 70 years later, to finally walk across the stage at commencement.” WSSU Chancellor Elwood Robinson said.

Elizabeth said that this birthday is one that she would never forget. “I’m just in sheer shock. How in the world did my daughter and granddaughters have time to pull this off? This is the most wonderful birthday.” she said.

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Female Chief Rises To Power, Annuls 850 Child Marriages And Sends Girls Back To School

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Theresa Kachindamoto, senior chief in the Dedza District in Central Malawi, is certainly a force to reckon with. She has not only been able to establish a new law to prevent child marriage, she is also very dedicated to enforcing it!

From the moment Kachindamoto became senior chief, she immediately set about ending the practise of child marriage among her people.

Though illegal, the practice has been culturally accepted in the area. Many families, usually out of financial need, had consented to having their children married off very young.

Theresa Kachindamoto, senior chief in the Dedza District in Central Malawi

Theresa Kachindamoto, senior chief in the Dedza District in Central Malawi

According to Al Jazeera, Kachindamoto decided to take a stand and made 50 of her sub-chiefs sign an agreement to end child marriage in her area of authority. “I told them, ‘Whether you like it or not, I want these marriages to be terminated.’” She said.

But that was not all, Kachindamoto made the leaders annul any existing underage unions, and send all of the children involved back to school and swore to dismiss any chiefs that continue to allow these controversial practices. “First it was difficult, but now people are understanding,” she told Al Jazeera.

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To ensure all children have a chance to go to school, Kachindamoto operates a secret network of parents to keep an eye on others. And when parents can’t afford to pay school fees, she’ll pay them herself or find someone else who can.

“I don’t want child marriages. They must go to school. No child should be found at home or doing household chores during school time.” Chief Kachindamoto told U.N. Women.

In June alone, she annulled more than 300 child marriages, according to the organization. And over the past three years, the figure reaches close to 850.

She also abolished “kusasa fumbi”, a cleansing ritual that requires girls as young as seven to go to sexual initiation camps in order to train them to perform sex acts to please their future husbands.

Kachindamoto made the leaders annul any existing underage unions, and send all of the children involved back to school

Kachindamoto made the leaders annul any existing underage unions, and send all of the children involved back to school

Kachindamoto received death threats for her work, but simply said: “I don’t care, I don’t mind. I’ve said whatever, we can talk, but these girls will go back to school.”

Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with an alarming one in two girls married under age 18. Marrying underage negatively affects girls’ development, interrupting their education and putting them at higher risk of domestic violence and early pregnancy.

“I talk to the parents, I tell them: if you educate your girls you will have everything in the future.” she said to U.N. Women last year.

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Ohio Teen Unrecognizable After Losing 115 Pounds While Walking To School Every Day

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Ohio Teen Unrecognizable After Losing 115 Pounds While Walking To School Every Day

Two years ago, weighing in at 335 pounds, Michael Watson was overweight and in a rut with no self confidence. He was always bullied at school because of his weight and always had his mates make fun of him.

One day, the 6-foot-4 inch teen decided to make a change in his life and never looked back again. As it turned out, it was the best decision of his life. “My self-confidence was zero,” Watson told CNN.

The teen decided to make a commitment to walk to and from school every day, about 20 minutes each way. Apart from that, Michael also made some changes in his diet.

Michael Watson was overweight and in a rut with no self confidence. He was always bullied at school because of his weight and always had his mates make fun of him.

Michael Watson was overweight and in a rut with no self confidence. He was always bullied at school because of his weight and always had his mates make fun of him.

One time, a classmate told Michael he had something on his chin. When Watson rubbed his chin, the boy told him, “‘No, third one down. That really hurt.” Michael said.

But it was instances like that that fueled his desire to stay committed to his weight loss journey even more.

Now Michael is a senior at McKinley High School and has lost 115 pounds. He says much of his success was as a result of walking the 20 minutes to and from school every day, rain or shine.

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Even if Watson wanted to take a day off, he couldn’t. “I didn’t even know when the bus came,” he said.

Michael also revealed that it took a lot of discipline to remain committed to his goal especially with his diet considering his part-time after-school job was at a fast-food restaurant.

Terrance Jones, who works as a family specialist and graduation coach at Michael’s school said that Watson’s story stuck with him. Speaking to CNN, he said, “It’s an example of courageous personal development that’s rare for a high school student. Mike’s decision to the initiative to live a healthier lifestyle and to stay consistent with it will always stay with me.”

Jones revealed that Michael’s story was motivation for him to create a “McKinley Senior Limelight” on Facebook to showcase students’ stories and Watson was a recent feature.

“After years of being overweight, Michael took matters into his own hands. He adopted a healthier lifestyle of eating and exercise by taking the road less traveled…” the post reads.

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Retired Cop Bursts Into Tears When Former Partner Hands Him Card Offering Him Her Kidney

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Retired Cop Bursts Into Tears When Former Partner Hands Him Card Offering Him Her Kidney

A retired Maryland police officer gave a piece of herself to save the life of her former partner. Stanley Barsch from Middletown, Maryland found out he had polycystic kidney disease in 2002. His mom, who also had the disease was in need of a transplant. “I went through all the testing, and in the final phase I found out I too had the same disease,” Barsch told Liftable.

“It was devastating, but from the aspect that I was trying to save my mother’s life and wasn’t able to provide her the gift of life that I desperately wanted. She ended up on dialysis until 2005 until she got a cadaver kidney, and she passed away in 2017 with a weak heart and sepsis.” He added.

A retired Maryland police officer gave a piece of herself to save the life of her former partner.

A retired Maryland police officer gave a piece of herself to save the life of her former partner.

Barsch revealed that the genetic disorder caused fluid-filled cysts to grow inside his kidneys. The organs had swelled to 15 to 20 pounds each, the average kidney weighs 0 .25 pounds. “The massive cysts caused my function to drop steadily over the past couple years. I started losing a lot of my energy noticeably in the past few years. This past December I entered stage 5 kidney failure, and with 17% function and dropping I desperately needed a kidney.” He said.

Barsch posted on his Facebook account looking for a donor. Without telling him, his former partner in the police force, Megan Ambrose, underwent testing to see if she was a match. The results showed she was 100% compatible.

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So she planned a little surprise to break the news to Barsch. She invited her former partner and his wife over to her home on February 14, which is both Valentine’s Day and National Donor Day. She then handed them a handmade card that read, “So I heard urine need of a kidney … want mine???… Turns out that we are a perfect match, not only on the job but in blood and organs, too. You always had my back on the road and off. Now you can have my kidney.”

Barsch burst into tears and both he and his wife embraced Ambrose in a tight hug. As it turns out, Ambrose knew she was a match for Barsch in the middle of January but wanted to first talk it over with her husband and family.

“Later in January she asked if me and my wife Jessica would meet with her and her husband Chris. We didn’t know if she wasn’t going to be able to do it, wasn’t a great match, was scared to do it or what. We didn’t know what to expect.” Barsch revealed.

The procedure was done on May 14. In a Facebook post Barsch said it was not only a success, the surgeon declared that Ambrose’s kidney was beautiful.

The procedure was done on May 14. In a Facebook post Barsch said it was not only a success, the surgeon declared that Ambrose’s kidney was beautiful.

“There are no words that do our partnership justice. You experience things with your partner that you can’t really explain. … He’s my ride or die.” Ambrose told PEOPLE.

The procedure was done on May 14. In a Facebook post Barsch said it was not only a success, the surgeon declared that Ambrose’s kidney was beautiful. “The kidney is functioning normally. We are happy.” said transplant surgeon Dr. Seyed Ghasemian.

“We were always close, now we are one. We are bonded for life, she is more than a sister that I never wanted.” Barsch said.

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