84-Year-Old is Hamden High’s Latest Graduate

Born and raised in Hamden, Joseph Finoia, Jr. can finally say he graduated from high school.

With his diploma in hand, Joseph Finoia, Jr. hopes all young people can learn from his mistakes. 

“This [diploma] is a dear, precious thing that I think everyone should have.“ he said.

In 1943, when he was 16 years old, the Hamden native dropped out of school. He wasn’t particularly struggling with the courses. He was just unhappy going and thought it was “time to get out.” 

What if he knew then what he now knows?

“I definitely would not have quit school because this is a detriment to you,” he said.

He regretted that decision ever since. Throughout the years he raised a family, learned a trade and eventually started his own factory in Wallingford.

He took night courses in the 1950s in order to get a diploma, but after becoming ill and missing a test, the teacher refused to let him graduate.

Years later, despite the setbacks, Finoia held his high school diploma open on Tuesday.

“I’ll be sitting down here looking at this for hours,” he said. “Just what says in there, what it means to me.”


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