MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. — Chances are, the Calhoun Class of 2017 won’t remember the keynote speaker nor the wittiest cap decoration. But it is likely they will remember Stephanie Miner and the journey that led her to her diploma.
“I can’t believe it’s actually here,” Miner said.
Stephanie has cerebral palsy, but is quick to tell you, “Just because my legs don’t work doesn’t mean my mind doesn’t work,” she said.
We wish we could tell you Stephanie was motivated by a mentor to work for her diploma. But actually, it was the opposite.
“Somebody at vocational rehabilitation told me I couldn’t and I wanted to show them that I could,” Miner said.
Each day, her parents have driven her to campus along with her service dog, Astro, who wears many hats.
“He helps me push the buttons on the doors here at the college and he helps me pick things up,” she said.
Astro has only been here for the final stretch of her higher educational journey. She’s taken only a class or two at a time.
“The tortoise and the hare mentality,” Miner said.
Which makes this Graduation Day 24 years in the making.
“Since 1993,” she said.
Yes, even when classes got hard. When giving up would have been easy, Stephanie persisted.
She says there was nothing in the world that could have kept her and Astro from taking the Calhoun stage.
Hearing her name, all the applause, was priceless for the girl who was told she couldn’t. But, did.
With her degree in hand, Stephanie is onto her next big mission, finding a job.
“I’m wanting to go into disability advocacy,” she said.
If there’s anything the Calhoun Class of 2017 will remember from this day, it’s simply this– don’t bet against Stephanie.
“Just don’t give up, even if it’s a little hard, don’t give up,” Miner said.
Friday was also a graduation day of sorts for Stephanie’s dog, Astro. He’s reached the retirement age of 12 in the service dog world and Stephanie is in need of a new one. The family has a GoFundMe page, if you’d like to help out with expenses.