A grandfather-granddaughter duo from Texas have shared a heart-warming milestone together.
Melanie Salazar, 23, and her grandfather Rene Neira, 88, have both graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) alongside each other.
Rene first began his higher education in the 1950s, but when he fell in love and started a family, he was unable to finish his studies in the traditional four-year span.
Throughout the years, Rene took part in online classes, but decided to re-enroll in college in 2016: the same year his granddaughter began her freshman year at the same school.
“It just so happened that he wanted to go back to school again at the same time that I was starting.” Melanie Salazar told CNN.
“It wasn’t intentionally planned, but it just worked out that way that we were in school at the same time.”
“I didn’t know that we would actually get to share that moment together,” Melanie said.
Melanie said she didn’t share any classes with her grandfather due to their differing majors, but the pair would often meet up for lunches, study in the library or even carpool to campus together.
Just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Rene suffered from a stroke and had to take medical leave from class.
Unable to navigate the world of full-time online classes, Rene was only a few classes shy of completing his degree and his family rallied around him to get him the degree he has always wanted.
“We, as his family, were able to advocate for him and request to see if there was any way that he could be recognised or honoured for all the work that he had done.” Melanie told CNN.
It wasn’t until the week of graduation they found out he would be honoured.
“It was definitely an early Christmas miracle that they were willing to recognize him.” Salazar said.
“When we walked past the curtains onto the stage, I was overcome with emotion and started to tear up because I didn’t know that we would actually get to share that moment together.”
Salazar said, “I told him afterwards, ‘You did it, grandpa! College is over!'”
Melanie received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications, while Rene got a degree of recognition in economics.
“It’s never too late to go back to school.” Salazar shares. “Whatever your circumstance, there’s people that are ready and willing to help you follow your dreams.”
Image credits: Twitter @UTSA
This article first appeared on OverSixty.