82-year-old Grandpa Starts the Fall Semester at College…with his Granddaughter


*My 77-year-old mother never finished college, and she says that decision is one of her biggest regrets. She went back briefly in the 1990s (GOD that sounds like it was a long time ago!), but dropped out again after just a day or two (I’m not exaggerating), telling herself that, at 50-something, it was too late.

I love Mom dearly, and she sacrificed a lot to help raise her children.  But for decades she has bought into the ridiculous notion that she’s too old to go back to school.  Throughout those same decades, my siblings and I have tried to convince her that it’s never too late to pursue a dream.

Maybe we need to ask Rene Neira, 82, to give her a call.  He just started the new semester at Palo Alto College — with his 18 year old granddaughter.  

The octogenarian is just a class away from earning his associate’s degree in economics.  His granddaughter, Melanie Salazar, has just started her studies at the San Antonio, Texas community college.

“Grandpa and I are very close,” Salazar said.  “I like to say he’s my best friend and it’s great to have him here with me.”

Neira started college in the 1950s, but after getting married and starting a family he had to put his education on hold.  He took classes here and there, and with perseverance is about to reach his goal.

What’s an 82-year-young guy going to do with an associate’s degree, you ask?  Well, THIS one hopes to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio to get his Bachelor’s degree!

“My grandpa is very hardworking,” Salazar said.  “He will spend hours in the library studying…it’s amazing that his story can inspire so many people.”

He’s inspired me!  Right after I send this article to Mom, I’m going to start looking into Master’s programs!

Let me be the first to congratulate you, Mr. Neira!  And thanks for the reminder:  it’s NEVER too late to go for it!


This blog was written by freelance writer Michael P Coleman, who earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan at the not-so-tender age of 28, while supporting a wife and two children.  Looking back at it, it was one of the greatest accomplishments of his life.  Too late for grad school?  He thinks not!  Follow him on Twitter.  



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