82-year-old grandfather, Rene Neira, is inspiring generations everywhere with a simple act.
Rene Neira is back in college to finish his associate’s degree in economics. He’s attending Palo Alto College with his 18-year-old granddaughter, Melanie Salazar.
Rene briefly attended St. Mary’s University in the 1950s but stopped when he got married and started a family.
He took classes there throughout his life, but “it was never a consistent thing, until grandma died in 2009,” Melanie shared.
Rene and Melanie walk each other to class and meet for lunch as often as they can.
The pair caught people’s attention after Melanie tweeted about her grandfather attending his first day of class.
“It only motivated me more to not give up, it makes me realise the importance of getting an education like my grandpa so I can accomplish something great like him,” Melanie said.
Her grandfather is the son of first generation immigrants and has always been involved in politics in their community. Melanie said that he even took part in the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement in the 60s.
Rene admits that he “wasn’t what you would call a model student” growing up, but has since then valued education for its own sake.
Rene only needs one more class to finish his economics associates degree and plans to continue to get a bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Texas in San Antonio.
“I’m not trying to inspire Melanie or anybody, but I’m glad that’s what it’s doing. I’m just doing what I’ve always wanted to do.”
Melanie is extremely proud of her grandfather and says she’s “definitely going to cry” at his graduation.
“Just last June, he watched me cross my high school stage and soon I’m going to watch him cross the college stage. He’s very proud of me, and I’m very proud of him.”