Learning is a family affair for Rene Neira and Melanie Salazar.
Neira, 88, and Salazar, his 23-year-old granddaughter, first attended Texas' Palo Alto College together in 2016, before graduating and moving on to the University of Texas at San Antonio. Salazar told Today it was always her grandfather's dream to earn a degree in economics. "He was very passionate about urban and economic development of the south side of San Antonio," she said. "In the 1960s, he did a lot of advocacy through civic engagement. He participated in rallies and marches and got involved in local government."
While Neira majored in economics, Salazar majored in communications, so the pair didn't have any classes together. Still, they would "sometimes eat together in the cafeteria," Salazar said. "We would study side by side." Their hard work paid off, and in December, they were able to graduate together, with Neira receiving a degree in recognition.
Neira is terminally ill, and Salazar told Today "it felt like a miracle" that he was able to celebrate with his family. Salazar is "grateful" to the University of Texas at San Antonio for recognizing her grandfather's work, and "so thankful to have shared these memories together of college and graduations."