An 88-year-old grandfather and his 23-year-old granddaughter graduated from university on the same day, showing that you can never be too old to learn.
Rene Neira had a good job in finance and a family, but he had never completed his pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in economics, the same topic his granddaughter Melanie Salazar was studying at the same college. She said:
“He was interested in the economic and urban development of San Antonio’s south side. He participated in many civic engagement campaigns in the 1960s. Participating in demonstrations and marches, he developed an interest in local politics. Since then, one of his life’s ambitions has been to earn a degree in economics. In the 1950s, he began his education, fell in love, and had a family. He returned to school during the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, and it just so happened that he did so at the same time as I did.”
Both graduated from Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Texas, in 2016 with an Associate’s degree and went on to the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Melanie went on to say:
“We never had classes together, but we often met for lunch in the cafeteria or studied together in the library. My grandfather was a strange presence on campus, but I was getting used to it. It became my routine! On occasion, I would help him browse the school’s website for his classes. He used to be transported to and from university on a regular basis.”
“From what I’ve heard, he always had something to say, especially when his teachers disagreed with him. In the past, a lecturer would often say, ‘Hey Rene, you lived through that time period, tell us more about it.’ I believe that seeing him energized and enthused his peers.”
In addition, Melanie said that her grandfather is now critically ill, but she thinks it’s great that he was able to achieve his goal:
“It was as if a miracle had occurred! Due to his deteriorating health, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to witness this event. It was great that UTSA was able to make this happen and that his efforts were acknowledged. “He worked very hard despite his hearing impairment, not having a car and having to rely on public transportation, and working twice as hard to comprehend the ever-changing and modernizing curriculum of economics since he first attended school.