Melanie Salazar poses with her fellow graduate and grandfather, Rene Neira. Courtesy Melanie Salazar

On the same day, an 88-year-old grandfather and his 23-year-old granddaughter graduated from university, demonstrating that learning never stops.

Rene Neira and his granddaughter Melanie Salazar are graduating college together.UTSA

Rene Neira had a nice job and a family, but he had never completed his bachelor’s degree in economics, which his granddaughter Melanie Salazar was studying at the same university. She explained, “He was concerned about the economic and urban growth of San Antonio’s south side.” He was involved in various civic involvement activities during the 1960s. After taking part in demonstrations and marches, he became interested in local politics. Since then, obtaining an economics degree has been one of his life ambitions. In the 1950s, he began his schooling, fell in love, and had a family. He returned to school throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, and it just so happened that he did so at the same time that I did.”

Both students earned with an Associate’s degree from Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Texas, in 2016 and went on to study at the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2017.

Melanie explained, “We never had classes together, but we frequently met for lunch in the cafeteria or studied together in the library.” My grandfather was an unusual presence on campus, but I was used to it. It has turned into a habit! I would occasionally aid him in looking for his classes on the school’s website. He was often picked up and dropped off at university.”

Rene Neira and his granddaughter Melanie Salazar are graduating college together.UTSA

“From what I’ve heard, he’s always saying something,” she said, “especially when his teachers disagreed with him.” In the past, a professor would say, “Hey Rene, you lived through that time period, tell us more about it.” ” Seeing him inspire and delight his classmates was awe-inspiring “I suppose it’s possible.

Melanie also mentioned that her grandfather is now very ill. Still, she believes it’s beautiful that he was able to accomplish his goal: “It was as if a miracle had happened!” she stated. We weren’t sure if we’d be able to attend due to his declining condition. It was fantastic that UTSA could pull this together and that his efforts were recognized. Despite his hearing impediment, lack of a car and reliance on public transit, he worked twice as hard to understand the ever-changing and upgrading economics curriculum since he initially attended school. 

Rene Neira and his granddaughter Melanie Salazar are graduating college together.UTSA

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