88-year-old Rene Neira enrolled for a degree in Economics from the University of Texas in the 1950s and attended classes off and on, while setting up his family, pursuing a banking career and engaging in civic activities in his locality. After the death of his wife in 2009, he completed his associate degree at Palo Alto College and then enrolled at the University of Texas in 2016. His partner in these academic pursuits was his granddaughter, Melanie Salazar, and much to their delight, they were both conferred their degrees at the ceremony this year. It was a touching moment when Salazar wheeled Neira, who is terminally ill and in hospice care, onto the stage so he could receive his diploma. Amid hearing loss, having to take the public bus and working twice as hard to keep up with the modernized course content – nothing could stop this eager scholar. "It felt like a miracle! We didn’t know if we would see this moment come true with his declining health,” says Salazar.

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