“Achieving Dreams Across Generations: 88-Year-Old Grandparent Graduates Alongside 23-Year-Old Granddaughter”

Octogenarian Fulfilling Lifelong Dream, 88-Year-Old Graduates with Economics Degree Alongside Granddaughter

After decades of delay, Rene Neira, an 88-year-old with a remarkable journey, recently experienced the fruition of his long-held ambition. Neira, who set aside his educational aspirations to prioritize building a family and forging a successful banking career, proudly received his economics degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio earlier this month. Passionate about the urban and economic development of San Antonio’s south side, Neira’s desire to pursue a degree in economics originated during the 1960s, when he actively engaged in civic advocacy, participating in rallies, marches, and local government initiatives, as revealed by his granddaughter, Melanie Salazar.

Neira’s path to higher education became a shared adventure for him and Salazar, as they both embarked on their academic journeys simultaneously. “In the 50s, he started school, then soon fell in love and started a family,” shared the 23-year-old, as reported by CBS News. “Then he went back in the 80s, the 90s, the early 2000s, and then it just so happened that he went back to school again at the same time that I was starting.” In 2016, Neira enrolled at Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Texas, joining Salazar, who was commencing her freshman year. The pair achieved their associate’s degrees together and subsequently enrolled at the University of Texas San Antonio. Although they did not attend classes together, they often rendezvoused for lunch in the cafeteria or studied side by side in the library. Salazar, pursuing a communications major, shared her unique perspective: “It was definitely an interesting experience to have my grandpa on campus with me, but I was pretty used to it. It became my normal! Sometimes he would need help navigating the school’s website for his classes, and I would help him. I often would take him to campus and take him back home.”

Salazar continued, describing her grandfather’s impact within the academic community: “From what has been shared with me, he always had something to say, especially if his professors had different opinions than him. And there were often times a professor would be talking about the past and say, ‘Hey Rene, you lived through that time period, tell us more about what you remember during that time.’ His classmates, I think, were motivated and inspired to see him.”

While Neira did not fulfill the required credits for an official graduation, owing to health challenges that affected his studies, his granddaughter and family rallied for his recognition and appealed to the university on his behalf. Just one week before the graduation ceremony, Neira received news that the institution intended to honor him and his relentless efforts. On the momentous day, Salazar, wheeling her terminally ill grandfather—who currently resides in hospice care—assisted him in crossing the stage to receive his well-deserved diploma. Overwhelmed with gratitude, Salazar expressed, “It felt like a miracle! We didn’t know if we would see this moment come true with his declining health. I am very thankful that UTSA was able to make it happen and that he was recognized for his work. He worked so hard despite having hearing loss, sometimes not having a car and having to take the public bus, and working twice as hard to understand the ever-changing and modernizing content of economics that has changed since he first started school.”

Rene Neira’s remarkable journey serves as a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and the pursuit of lifelong learning. His unwavering commitment to his dreams, even in the face of adversity, inspires generations to believe that it is never too late to achieve their goals.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *