WEST HAVEN, Conn. — Graduates from Southern Connecticut State University walked across the stage Friday, and among them was one special four-legged honorary graduate.
Monroe is a loving 10-pound chihuahua who was decked out in her cap and gown. It's safe to say she’s not a fan of the hat, but she had her graduation strut perfected to walk alongside her owner, Nicole Coffey, in the commencement ceremony.
"Having Monroe by my side has been the best advantage I can say, just having her in school has been great," said Coffey of West Haven.
Monroe had been to every class with Nicole on her journey towards her degree and it’s only fitting that Monroe herself walked in graduation.
"She’s just been a great resource for me," said Coffey.
Nicole has faced more challenges in her life than anyone should. She suffers from PTSD, is a domestic violence survivor, has a brain injury resulting in short term memory loss and is battling early stage colon cancer. She suffers from panic attacks, and Monroe as her service dog, is trained to help 24/7.
"She jumps on my lap to compress my chest. She’s a very calming dog and she’s very empathetic," said Coffey.
Nicole and Monroe are attached at the hip. While sitting through endless classes and tests, Monroe naturally made friends with other classmates too.
"She can just sense when someone’s having a bad day but not just me other students as well. She gravitates towards people who are sad or in need of comfort," said Coffey.
Despite all her health challenges, Monroe helped Nicole graduate with honors, earning a Bachelor's degree in Sociology with a 4.0 GPA.
"I’m proud of the fact we have come so far and I owe a lot of that to Monroe," said Coffey.
An inspiration to the Class of 2022, Nicole wants to inspire others to go for their dreams.
"Never give up, keep trying even if you fail keep trying again, and again, and never give up. I’ve overcome it all and I’m so grateful," said Coffey.
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