San Antonio, FL

88-Year-Old San Antonio Man Receives College Degree Alongside 23-Year-Old Granddaughter

L. Cane

My grandmother used to tell me that if something was truly important to me, I wouldn't let any obstacle stand in my way of getting it.

My grandmother would be very proud of 88-year-old Rene Neira, who worked to get his college degree for over 70 years. Not only did he finally get a degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio. But he received it alongside his 23-year-old granddaughter Melanie.

Who Is Rene Neira and Melanie Salazar?:

Rene is the grandfather of Melanie Salazar. Rene attempted to begin his college education at St. Mary’s University in the 1950s. However, when Rene met Melanie's grandmother, he soon started a family and began his career at a bank. So he put school on hold.

Rene attempted to take some college classes when his children got older, but he started to seriously consider going back after the death of his wife, Mary Lee.

When his granddaughter Melanie began school at Palo Alto College, Rene decided to attend as well. The two graduated with associates' degrees in 2017.

From there, both eventually went to the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The two didn't have any classes together, but they carpooled, studied, and ate lunch together.

Melanie said she felt that the students reacted well to well to Rene, telling CBS news:

"His classmates, I think, were motivated and inspired to see him."

Did Melanie and Rene Face Any Challenges?:

Rene began to face declining health about the time the pandemic hit. Because of his failing health and the fact that most classes went online, he was unable to fully finish his degree.

Still, Melanie and her family advocated for Rene to be able to walk at graduation ceremonies. And he was given a Degree of Recognition. He received the Degree alongside Melanie, who received her Bachelor's Degree in Communications.

Melanie hopes that Renee can be an inspiration to others, saying:

“If Rene with hearing loss, declining health, without a car, was able to do it, so can you."

Unfortunately according to the University of Texas' Facebook page, Rene is terminally ill and entered hospice. How wonderful that Melanie got to have these memories:

"I wanted to cry out of happiness that I was able to have that memory...because I'm also really proud of my grandpa, knowing and seeing how hard he had to work," Melanie told Good Morning America.

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