Grandfather graduates college alongside his granddaughter to fulfill dream before hospice care

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grandfather graduates college alongside his granddaughter to fulfill dream before hospice care.
grandfather graduates college alongside his granddaughter to fulfill dream before hospice care. Courtesy of UTSA.

A grandfather graduates college in the most special way. Something unique happened a couple weeks ago at the University of Texas at San Antonio graduation ceremony. 88-year-old, Rene Neira, crossed the stage with his granddaughter, 23-year-old, Melanie Salazar.

The two began their academic journey together at Palo Alto College in 2016. Then, they enrolled at UTSA together.

Rene is terminally ill and in hospice now, but he was just a few credits away from earning his bachelor’s degree in economics. So, given the circumstances, the university made special arrangements for Rene to walk in the ceremony to fulfill his life-long dream of graduating college.

“I definitely have been inspired by my grandfather,” Melanie said. “Through hearing loss, not having a car, taking public transportation, advocating for himself on campus, I really admired his ganas, which is like strength or perseverance, to keep going no matter what.”

When Melanie told Rene that they were graduating together, she said he worried that he would take the spotlight away from her in her graduation moment.

“I told him, ‘This is our moment. I want to share it with you,'” Melanie recalled. “I’m so proud of my grandpa and I’m so thankful I was able to have this moment, this memory, with him.”

On a Saturday afternoon, Melanie pushed her grandfather across the stage to receive his degree in recognition while she received her B.A. in Communication.

The crowd erupted into applause as Rene and Melanie received their diplomas together. It was a majical moment this pair will never forget!

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