Lupita Moreno graduated from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) recently. It’s a great accomplishment, even more so since Ms. Moreno is a grandmother, great grandmother, family caregiver, and 75. The Brownsville native even worked as a nurse for 50 years before deciding to go back to school.
Caregiving obligations, keeping a full-time job, and attending school full time did not deter Moreno from pursuing her interest in behavioral and emotional problems and clinical counseling. So in 2015, at age 70, Moreno went back to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
“I always had an interest in learning psychology and since my husband served in the military, the VA helped finance my education,” said Moreno.
Moreno’s experience at UTRGV was great, but along the way she encountered a few obstacles that almost made her give up her dream.
“Last semester before my final exams on April 6, 2019, my 86-year-old-sister fell and had a brain injury. I am fully responsible for her and for two months she required close supervision,” said Moreno.
The great responsibility of school and taking care of her sister did not stop Moreno from getting her degree. It was then when she turned to her professors for help in reaching her goals.
“Even though I had a lot of responsibilities at the time, my professors were able to understand my situation and were willing to make things work for me,” said Moreno.
Moreno cared for her sister while she was a student, and at the start of her educational career in 2016, her brother battled cancer. He was given only two months to live.
“At that time I had to drop all of my classes for that semester and dedicate most of my time to my brother. After he passed away I was able to return to school and finish,” said Moreno.
In September of 2019, Moreno’s husband had to undergo surgery. He was dealing with unstable diabetes.
“They had to amputate his toe and I had to care for him while he was healing. As a nurse, I was not going to put them in nursing homes since I am a nurse myself,” said Moreno.
Although dealing with family caregiving issues was a big lift for Moreno, she also faced a technological obstacle.
“I have limited computer skills. I received lots of help from my friends and the library was a wonderful resource that also helped me. Otherwise, I would have not been able to pull through,” said Moreno.
Moreno always attended classes in-person and utilized on-campus resources, but the pandemic really through her for a loop.
“When COVID-19 hit, it was terrible for me because not only did the campus close, but I no longer had my friends or professors to help me. I am glad that I was able to manage and graduate this year,” said Moreno.
Despite minor setbacks and major family obligations, this caregiver said nothing was going to stop her from graduating. Everyone is noticing her achievement at 75. Most recently the City of Brownsville presented her with a special gift.
“I’ve gotten lots of attention from the media because my grandchildren posted on social media that I graduated at this age. I knew all the attention was due to my age, but recently the city awarded me with a proclamation and that’s when I felt special,” said Moreno.
Moreno believes that if you have the opportunity to pursue an education, you should take the chance.
“Even though I’m 75-years-old I feel much younger than that. I feel as I am in my 60s,” said Moreno. “It doesn’t matter how old you are. All it takes is the will to do so. And stop wasting your time trying to decide, just go for it.”
Monday, Aug 17, 2020 at 3:00pm Central Time
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