This 96-Year-Old Accepted An Honorary Degree, After 87 Years Of Scouts Service

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Cedar Crest College's School of Adult and Graduate Education, the school awarded a very special honorary degree to a very special adult.

Veronica "Ronnie" Backenstoe accepted her baccalaureate hood and certificate from Dr. Elizabeth Meade, Cedar Crest College president. The hood was placed on her shoulders gently, because, you see, Ronnie Backenstoe is 96 years old.

Ronnie enrolled at Cedar Crest College after World War II, taking classes in sociology and psychology. But before she was a college student, Ronnie was a Girl Scout. Starting in 1931, Ronnie dedicated herself to the organization first as a member and later as a leader. So when the Girl Scouts asked Ronnie to move from Allentown, PA, to Berks County, to train Scout leaders, Ronnie didn't hesitate. She left Cedar Crest College to fulfill her Scouts duty.

"I had to make a decision," Ronnie said at her honorary degree ceremony, and that was to put aside my studies, hoping to return at a later date."

She never was able to return to college, instead serving actively in the Girl Scouts for a total of 87 years.

Onstage at Cedar Crest College, Ronnie wore her Girl Scout uniform. She shared stories from her decades of service after accepting her degree, including organizing an international Girl Scout camp in 1976 to celebrate the United States bicentennial.
"Today we celebrate Ronnie," said Dr. Meade, "by awarding her this honorary degree in recognition of the profound contribution she has made to the Lehigh Valley community, to generations of young women in Girl Scouts and those of us whose lives she has touched."

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