Things That Matter

He Dropped Out Of College To Marry His Dream Girl. At 82, He’s Finishing What He Started

It’s never too late to go back to school. Just ask 82-year-old Rene Neira, who’s working on finishing up his associate’s degree at Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Texas.

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Credit: @melaniesalazara/Twitter

Neira, the son of Mexican immigrants, went to St. Mary’s University in San Antonio back in the 1950s, but then dropped out after meeting and falling in love with the woman who eventually became his wife. Since dropping out, according to the San Antonio Express-News, Neira has gone back to school here and there.

Oh, and did we mention that he’s attending college alongside his 18-year-old granddaughter, Melanie Salazar?

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Credit: @melaniesalazara/Twitter

Last week, the college freshman tweeted the photos you see here with the caption, “I’m so proud of my grandpa for finishing his first day at PAC this semester! 82 years old and not giving up!!! ???”

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Credit: @melaniasalazara/Twitter

The Texas college student says that she wanted to bring attention to her grandfather’s accomplishment and passion for learning.

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Credit: @melaniasalazara/Twitter

“I don’t want to take credit for it. It’s not my story. It’s all my grandpa’s story. I just so happen to have social media,” Salazar told ABC News. “It’s amazing that it just took off and people are inspired by this and motivated, more importantly, to get their education.”


READ: This Mexican Father Crosses Borders Daily For His Children

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At Only 8 Years-Old, This Little Mexicana Has a Higher IQ Than Einstein and is an Aspiring Astronaut

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At Only 8 Years-Old, This Little Mexicana Has a Higher IQ Than Einstein and is an Aspiring Astronaut

@PuenteLibre / Twitter

The Latinidad has been blessed with it’s fair share of geniuses. Carlos Juan Finlay, the Cuban physician who first linked yellow fever to mosquitoes, used his brains to save countless lives in the developing world. For American engineer Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina female astronaut, her genius took her all the way to the stars. Frida Kahlo, one of the most recognizable figures of the 20th century, used her genius with a paintbrush to create art that still resonates with viewers today. However, all of these people were definitely already adults when they were recognized for their gifts. The newest member to join their genius ranks is considerablly much younger.

Though she is just 8 years-old, Adhara Pérez already boasts a genius level I.Q. in the triple digits.

Twitter / @adn40

A native of Mexico City, Adhara has a measured I.Q. of 162. To put this into perspective, two of the worlds most famous geniuses, Albert Einstein and Stephan Hawking, each had an estimated I.Q. of 160. According to the “Yucatan Times,” the gifted Latina has already finished school, having passed elementary at 5 years-old and completing middle and high school by the age of 8. Adhara is now in the process of earning two degrees online, in industrial engineering in mathematics and in systems engineering respectively. She’s hoping to one day become an astronaut and colonize Mars.

Besides sailing through grade school in a quarter of the time it usually takes, the child prodigy has been busy with other projects. She has already written her first book, called “Don’t Give Up,” that tells her story of growing up as a girl genius. She has also appeared on several television talk shows and participated in different academic presentations involving space.

While her I.Q. is being celebrated now, it wasn’t recognized by her teachers and fellow students at first.

Twitter / @NMinutosMx

When Adhara was 3 years-old, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a condition that falls on the autism spectrum. One of the defining symptoms of the developmental disorder is difficulties with social interactions and relating to other people. It was around this time that Adhara was experiencing bullying from her classmates. According to the “Yucatan Times” the other students at school called the little genius names like “oddball” and “weirdo.”

Nallely Sanchez, Adhara’s mother, recalled seeing first hand the cruel treatment the other kids inflicted on her daughter.

“I saw that Adhara was playing in a little house and they locked her up. And they started to chant: ‘Oddball, weirdo!’ And then they started hitting the little house,” she told the “Yucatan Times.” “So I said, ‘I don’t want her to suffer.'”

At that tender age, the teasing already proved to have a horrible impact on young Adhara’s mental health.

Twitter / @marisolglzz

According to her interview with the “Yucatan Times,” Sanchez says that her daughter began to experience a “very deep depression” and no longer wanted to go to school. Adhara’s teachers told her mother that the unhappy student began sleeping in class and put no effort or interest into her classwork. This was obviously not for lack of understanding the work.

Sanchez knew that her daughter already had mastery over algebraic knowledge and the periodic table so she was sure that the problem Adhara was having wasn’t an academic one. She decided to seek a therapist for her daughter in hopes of helping her. A psychiatrist they visited recommended that the mother and daughter go to a local education assistance center for further testing. That’s when her genius I.Q. was identified and she began her quick transition through school.

While she was once bullied for being different, her extraordinary genius has gained her notoriety from fans all over the world.

Twitter / @aideefrescas

This year, Adhara was named one of “Forbes” Magazine’s 100 Mujeres Poderosas de México. She shares this honor with some majorly talented and powerful women such as Irene Espinosa (Deputy Governer of the Bank of Mexico), Alejandra Frausto (Secretary of Culture) and Yalitza Aparicio (the breakout star of “Roma.”)

Twitter has been sure to shower the little genius with lots of praise as well. Some Twitter users expressed that Adhara’s parents must be very proud of of their daughter while others pointed out that this is exactly the reason why we shouldn’t bully people who think and act differently than us.

For now, the future appears bright for this little genius. According to “Vogue México,” Adhara is currently developing a smart bracelet for children with developmental conditions that will monitor their emotions to anticipate and prevent issues. She is currently studying English in perpetration for entrance exams in the United States. The Latina hopes to one day attend University of Arizona to study astrophysics.

The El Paso Walmart Where A White Nationalist Killed 22 People Reopens With #ElPasoStrong Banner

Things That Matter

The El Paso Walmart Where A White Nationalist Killed 22 People Reopens With #ElPasoStrong Banner

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Amid a class action lawsuit over safety, Walmart has hired off-duty officers to man its El Paso store during today’s quiet reopening, over three months since the deadly, racist mass shooting. On August 3, 2019, a white supremacist drove ten hours from Dallas, Texas, to the Cielo Vista shopping center, armed to kill as many Mexicans and Mexican-Americans as possible. That day, more than 3,000 people were in the El Paso Walmart, and 22 died within the few minutes the shooter opened fire. 

A security guard was scheduled to be there that fateful day but didn’t show. Walmart is currently the defendant in a class-action lawsuit, which is not seeking monetary damages but rather answers as to why Walmart didn’t adequately protect its customers.

The El Paso Walmart reopened its doors but not without an #ElPasoStrong banner greeting customers.

Before its scheduled opening at 9 a.m., employees gathered for the first time since the shooting for an employee meeting. Many wore “El Paso Strong” pins on their nametags. This time, armed off-duty police officers will be standing by, comforting many and alarming others. “There was a time that Walmart hired off-duty officers and for some time prior (to) August 3rd that ceased,” El Paso police spokesman Enrique Carrillo, told The Daily Mail in an email. 

The officers will be paid $50 per hour, roughly double their hourly wage.

Credit: @anjelia3464 / Twitter

Walmart has significantly invested in its security measures at all Walmart stores. “We typically do not share our security measures publicly because it could make them less effective,” Walmart spokeswoman Delia Garcia told the outlet, “But they may include hiring additional security, adding cameras in-store and using ‘lot cops’ in the parking lot. We will continue our long-standing practice of regularly evaluating our staffing, training, procedures, and technology which are designed to provide a safe working and shopping experience.”

If the government won’t implement gun reform, does the burden of protecting shoppers now lie in corporations?

Credit: @camerontygett / Twitter

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the United States, and the single largest roadblock to gun reform in America. The NRA donates to politicians who then ensure its interests are protected. The class action against Walmart presents a morose shift in the political landscape. It presumes that mentally ill people armed with assault-style weapons are something businesses should expect to protect their customers from. 

While it’s legally sound for Walmart to hire the off-duty officers to protect itself from liability, where is the burden on the police department? If the United States won’t pass gun reform measures, should it raise taxes instead to militarize the police and station them at every church, synagogue, movie theater and chain store? Will corporations band together to lobby the government, founded in capitalism, to take this undue burden off its back?

One shopper reflects the sentiment of many heading to Walmart today: “We aren’t letting this beat us.”

Credit: @KeenanFOX_CBS / Twitter

Journalist Keenan Willard met Emma Ferguson in the parking lot of the Walmart. She stopped to smile for a photo and tell him what her shopping experience means to her. “It’s about standing up to our fear. We aren’t letting this beat us.” Willard quoted her in a tweet.

The City of El Paso began removing the makeshift memorial behind Walmart earlier this week to prepare for its reopening.

Credit: @tornandra / Twitter

Journalist and El Paso resident Andra Litton tweeted a photo of the makeshift memorial behind Walmart the evening before the City of El Paso started removing the items, along with the fencing, “making it visible from I-10 for the first time since the Aug 3 shooting,” she tweeted. “It still hurts. #ElPasoStrong”

The items have been moved to Ponder Park, across the street from Walmart.

Credit: @nachoguilar / Twitter

Next to the memorial are “Temporary Memorial Site” signs in both Spanish and English. They read, “The City of El Paso invites the public to honor the victims of the August 3, 2019 tragedy at the Temporary Memorial at Ponder Park. The public may leave memorial items at the site. The public is encouraged to tie an orange ribbon in remembrance of those lost on August 3, 2019.” Along the fence, traditional Mexican sombreros hang next to a green star that says, “God cares!” “Pray for El Paso” and “#FronteraStrong,” along with Día de Muertos images of Frida Kahlo pepper the memorial.

A permanent memorial is under construction in the Walmart parking lot.

Credit: @265rza / Twitter

The ‘Grand Candela’ will be 30 feet tall, and projected to be unveiled by the end of the year. A month after the El Paso shooting, Walmart announced its plan to phase out certain types of ammunition from its stores, reducing its market share of ammunition from 20 percent to less than 10 percent. 

Still, some feel Walmart’s reopening, with the memorial or not, is a “slap in the face” to the victims. “It’s disrespectful to the people who died in the shooting,” college student Brandon Flores, 19, told CNN. “Anyone would be able to walk over the place where their bodies were laying and it would be just like nothing happened.”

READ: El Paso Artists Joined Together To Commemorate El Paso Gun Violence Victims With A Mural That Highlights Community Strength