Labrador Donna will do the honours as student graduates cum laude

04 April 2019 - 16:06 By Nico Gous
Michelle Nel and her former guide dog Donna.
Michelle Nel and her former guide dog Donna.
Image: Supplied/Stellenbosch University

Luna the black labrador took a back seat on Thursday at her owner's graduation ceremony to make way for her predecessor, a black labrador called Donna.

Visually impaired student Michelle Nel received her master's degree in music - graduating cum laude - from Stellenbosch University, and Donna was her guide dog during her studies.

"Donna will also wear a yellow band around the neck, like me," Nel said.

Donna, 11, retired in November and is now living with Nel's parents in Helderberg so Luna will help guide Nel to her PhD in psychology for which she is currently enrolled at Maties.

Nel first enrolled at Stellenbosch in 2005 for a BA in music, and Donna joined her in 2010.

Nel said her faith and belief that education is the only way to have a better future kept her motivated when she struggled with her disability.

"I am opposed to the stigmas attached to blind people. I believe that nothing should stand in your way to achieve what you want, not even your disability … everything is achievable."