It wasn't all bad
Deron Santiny wasn't in the audience cheering on his daughter when she graduated from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette last week — but only because he, too, was receiving his diploma.
Santiny, 46, first enrolled in the 1990s, but left to pursue a job in law enforcement, and later joined the military and was deployed to Iraq. In 2005, he was seriously injured when his vehicle detonated an IED, and he sustained a broken neck and brain injuries (Santiny was later awarded a Purple Heart). After going through dozens of surgeries, doctors said Santiny had a cognitive disorder that would affect how he learned, but with the encouragement of his family, he went back to school. "I wanted to finish what I started," he told KATC. "I only had four semesters left, so I figured it was worth the effort."
His daughter, Haley Fox, enrolled in 2012 after finishing her associate's degree, but took several breaks because of the demands of her job. She was ultimately inspired by her dad to buckle down and complete her coursework. "I struggled to get through school, and I'm fine and was a great student in high school," Fox said. "It was still difficult for me to get up everyday, go to class, and do all the work and get through it. For him to accomplish this is miraculous. It's just awesome." Santiny wants others in similar situations to remember that "pain is temporary" but "success is permanent," and for his daughter to know how impressed he is by her hard work: "I'm more proud of her than I am with myself."