Megan KaferDuring Megan Kafer’s freshman year in college, her life changed forever when she was involved in a tragic car accident.

After the accident, Kafer developed severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder and anxiety, and had to take leave from the school she was attending at the time.

Kafer was given medication to mitigate her PTSD, but she struggled with the prescription medications and became interested in exploring drug-free treatment options. That was when she started researching service dogs.

Kafer found her service dog, Kaiser, through the organization Paws 4 Independence. She worked closely with Nancy Dumke in WSU’s Warrior Success Center to research laws and rights surrounding service dogs.

“(Nancy) went out of her way to make sure that I was given appropriate access to all that WSU has to offer,” said Kafer. “I do not know that I would be graduating had it not been for her help and the kindness she has shown me.”

Kaiser comes with Kafer everywhere on campus and attends all her classes with her.

”Kaiser has literally saved my life and given me my independence back. It was because of him that I went back to school, this time at WSU, and am now going to complete my degree.”

According to Kafer, the entire WSU community has supported her, from her needs as a first-generation student to her needs as a student-parent to the needs she has for accommodating Kaiser. All this has added up to her ability to succeed.

“As a person with a disability and a service dog, I have only run into a few access issues while at WSU, and (they were) resolved in a very timely manner,” said Kaiser. “WSU also provides flexible classes and offers online classes, which has made attending school as a parent much easier.”

Kafer, from Fountain City, Wis., will graduate from WSU with a major in Individualized Studies. After graduation she plans to stay home with her young daughter for a while, and eventually pursue a master’s degree in nursing and become an RN.

“Never give up on your dreams, there is always a way to make them come true,” said Kafer. “When things seem hard or even impossible, just keep going and you will find another way to accomplish your goals.”

WSU Fall Commencement Ceremonies will be at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9 in McCown Gymnasium. The 10 a.m. ceremony will feature the Colleges of Business, Education and Science, and the 2 p.m. ceremony will feature the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Nursing and Health Sciences. For more information on commencement, visit http://www.winona.edu/graduation/commencement.asp.

For more information, contact University Communications at 507-457-5024.

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Kassidy Jackson

Kassidy is a Public Relations major, Advertising minor and Dance minor graduating in 2019 from Rosemount, MN.

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