A father and daughter will receive their diplomas together this Friday from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Deron Santiny, 46, and his daughter Haley Fox, 23, will both earn bachelor degrees in general studies, according to the school’s press release.
“We didn’t plan this at all. It just kind of happened,” said Fox.
Santiny first attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1992, but left the school to take a law enforcement job and afterward served in the U.S. Army and Navy. He was a member of the U.S. Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Santiny broke his neck in 2005 when a roadside bomb detonated behind the Humvee he was in. Due to the bombing, the veteran has underwent 21 surgeries and more than 100 pain management procedures. He also received the Purple Heart for his heroics.
The veteran returned to the university in 2015 to finish his degree.
“I wanted to finish what I started. I only had four semesters left, so I figured it was worth the effort,” Santiny said.
Fox took a couple breaks while pursuing her degree to concentrate on her job as a full-time internet salesperson at an Audi dealership in Lafayette.
“I was kind of like my dad. I finally just decided to go ahead and complete my degrees,” Fox said.
Fox is scheduled to get married in August and she plans to register in the Professional Land and Resource Management program at the university.
Santiny will to continue his work for the Veterans Coalition, which he is a board member of. The veteran will also continue his service with the national campaign team for the Wounded Warriors Project.