Man’s Long-Delayed Quest for Degree Leads to Joint Graduation With Son

“I always apologized,” he said, “and I was like, ‘All right, professor, so you know I’m in this body shop repair shop, so I will keep the...


“I always apologized,” he said, “and I was like, ‘All right, professor, so you know I’m in this body shop repair shop, so I will keep the mute button on.’”

Despite the obstacles, Mr. Paneto knew he had to finish his degree. His mother had always wanted him and his siblings to go to school, especially after his father was killed in a robbery when he was a baby.

Mr. Paneto grew up in the South Bronx after his parents moved there from Puerto Rico. He chose Union College because he got a hefty financial aid package and it wasn’t too far from the city. He was also accepted into a program that supports first-generation college students.

“We always knew education gets you out of poverty,” he said. “Even though my career was taking off, I always planned to finish and promised my mom I would finish.”

He kept his promise, and he finished his thesis, “People’s Republic of China: The Next World Power to Exploit Latin America,” just days before Union’s commencement ceremony. In addition to the two classes he took at Union College, he also finished three courses at Orange County Community College that counted toward his degree.

He was finally going to get his bachelor’s degree — in Asian studies and Spanish and Hispanic studies.

As Mr. Paneto wrapped up his work at Union, his son Joshua, an economics major, was doing so, too. They sat next to each other, socially distanced, at commencement. Then it was Joshua’s turn to cross the stage, and, finally, after nearly 30 years of waiting, Mr. Paneto’s.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Man’s Long-Delayed Quest for Degree Leads to Joint Graduation With Son
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