When celebrating our accomplishments, we often want to do so with those we love and cherish. After all, they often have a role in why were able to succeed in the first place. Be it their unending support, valuable advice, or even some funds given, we wouldn't be where we are today without our loved ones around us.
A New Jersey institution believed this same principle and put it into action by recognizing someone who greatly helped a student of theirs be able to walk across the graduation stage.
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An Amazing Accomplishment
Grace Mariani was a student at Seton Hall University, part of the 2023 graduating class as she recently earned a B.S. in Education, graduating magna cum laude.
But when she crossed the stage to accept her diploma, she wasn't alone. She had one of her best friends beside her, one that helped her make it through her studies, and the one that helped her succeed independently.
The video of her partner walking alongside her warmed hearts across the world, as did seeing the support she received.
She Wasn't Alone
Mariani is in a motorized wheelchair and, as such, needs some assistance when it comes to everyday tasks. By her side to help her with whatever she needed is her service dog, Justin, a trusted companion and one that aided her throughout her university years.
When she got on stage to accept her diploma, so did Justin. Not only did he walk alongside her, but Seton Hall president Joseph E. Nyre presented him with a diploma of his own.
His Own Celebration
Justin, who was wearing a Class of 2023 bandana that matched Mariani's hat gown, sniffed the diploma a little before gently grabbing it in his mouth, an act that had the entire crowd cheering.
The doggy diploma was a means of recognizing Justin's role in his owner's education, but also because he did attend all of Mariani's classes, meaning he experienced the same education she did!
Mariani got Justin through a nonprofit called Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that matches service dogs with those in need.
With His Help
Justin was the second dog Mariani has gotten through Canine Companions, according to the group's vice president of marketing and advocacy Jeanine Konopelski.
"When Grace was matched with Canine Companions service dog Justin, she said her dream was to go away to college and become a teacher," she told CNN in an email.
"She shared that with Justin by her side, she has the best chance for a successful, independent life."
A Bright Future For Both
Mariani hopes to go on to teach elementary and special education, all with Justin still by her side.
The bond these two share is surely indescribable. They're more than an everyday pet/owner duo, and they're more than simply friends, they're a joint duo who rely on one another.
The school recognizing Justin's importance in Mariani's education is commendable. After all, we should all be thanking and acknowledging the things our friends do for us, no matter how commonplace or ordinary they become.