An "awwww" moment came during the procession of graduates of the Gordon State College biology program when service dog Indy, decked out in his own mortar board, was recognized by Gordon State President Max Burns.
Burns presented Indy a bone tied with blue ribbon and the human he serves, Maria Pesce, a Bachelor's Degree in Biology with secondary teaching certification.
Pesce, who is visually impaired, said that Indy has been with her since high school and has attended all of her classes and internships with her.
"I feel that he was as much a student at Gordon as I was since he has shared in my experience as a student there. Service animals are an extension of the people they assist and they become a part of us," Pesce said.
"Graduating means that I have accomplished what others told me I could never do because of my disability. The fact that I graduated in such a visual subject mean that I took control of my disability and I owned it, it did not own me," Pesce said. "Graduating with this degree shows that any person with a visual disability can do what they love if they try and put their mind to it. I poured my heart and soul into my school work and the fact that I never dropped below a 3.0 shows that yes, I may have struggled but I overcame that struggle. I refuse to be a slave to my disability."
Maria, accompanied by Indy, will begin her teaching career in the fall.
As for the bone, Indy made quick work of it, unfazed by the excitement of graduation going on around him.