An 89-year-old Japanese-American woman who was placed in an internment camp during World War II before she could graduate high school has received an honorary diploma from the San Diego County Board of Education.
Yoshiko Golden, who now lives in Imperial Beach, was attending high school in Oxnard in 1942 when her family was moved to a relocation camp in Arizona.
She lived there with her parents and five siblings for more than a year before she was released and moved to Chicago for a few years before settling in the San Diego area.
The board presented her with the diploma at a meeting Wednesday as part of Operation Recognition, a statewide program to honor those who didn’t finish high school because of war.
Those eligible include veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as Japanese-Americans placed in internment camps during World War II.
Golden is the ninth person the San Diego County Board of Education has given a diploma through Operation Recognition, but the first who was unable to finish high school because of internment.
“It makes me feel good,” she said about the recognition.
Board member Mark Anderson, who presented the certificate to Golden, said it was the most meaningful diploma he has given.
“Of all of the diplomas that I’ve had the pleasure of handing out as a member of the Board of Education, this is my proudest,” he said.
After the ceremony, Golden donned a purple graduation robe and proudly posed for pictures along with a group of family members who were there to celebrate with her.
Susan Yamate, an ROP coordinator with the San Diego County Office of Education, helped start Operation Recognition locally in 2004 after hearing about a similar program in Sacramento.
Yamate’s mother also was interned in Arizona during World War II.
“I saw how my mom and others seemed to have a sense of closure by receiving a diploma and recognition,” she said.
– From a news release by the San Diego County Office of Education.