A St Andrews student has graduated with her assistance dog by her side who she credits for her academic success following a sudden disability.
Megan McEvoy, 26, crossed the stage at St Andrews on Tuesday to receive her degree with her dog, Flint.
Without the four-year-old Labrador Megan says it would have been “very unlikely” she would have been able to complete her degree.
The Bolton-born student graduated with a master’s degree in chemistry alongside 600 fellow students graduating in-person for the first time since the outbreak of Covid-19.
Megan first arrived in St Andrews in 2013 but during her first honours year she was diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), a medical condition that causes difficulty with the functions of the nervous system.
The 26-year-old first experienced the disorder one night when she felt extreme pain in her foot which eventually progressed to the entire left side of her body.
Megan became a wheelchair user ‘almost overnight’
Megan said: “I had gone from someone who was very active and knew where I wanted to go with everything, to a wheelchair user almost overnight.
“Becoming disabled comes with a huge learning curve, not just for me, but for the people around me.”
When Covid-19 hit, Megan was already taking a year out due to complications with her disability, but by September 2020 she decided it was time to resume her studies as a final year student.
Megan said: “When I initially got Flint, I knew he was going to be able to help me physically, but I didn’t realise how much he would also help me mentally.
“Flint has allowed me to do things that most people take for granted daily, such as taking my socks off.
“He has allowed me to be independent and not have to worry about the what-ifs, which meant that I was able to focus on my studies.”
‘He deserves his moment too’
Flint also acted as a welcome ice-breaker when Megan found herself back in the classroom with strangers, after time out throughout her studies meant her initial classmates had already graduated.
Megan, who hopes to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry, said: “Without Flint’s assistance it is very unlikely I would have ever finished my degree as he has helped me maintain stability with my condition, something I never expected to happen.”
She added: “I was of course very excited to cross the stage, as for a long time I didn’t think it was going to be possible to finish my degree.
“I am so happy that I could graduate with Flint by my side as he is part of the reason I have made it to this point, even if I was slightly anxious that he might get overwhelmed and start to be naughty, but he has supported me through the last three years.
“He deserves his moment too.”