Throughout her life, Sylvia, who has muscular dystrophy, has relied on her parents to assist her with day-to-day tasks. Sylvia has never let her disability put a limit on her success. She graduated near the top of her high school class with a 4.25 GPA. She was co-captain of the mock trial team at school, served on the youth advisory board of the local children’s hospital, interned in the Alameda County district attorney’s office and is a budding filmmaker.
In April of 2019, Sylvia’s world was turned upside down when she was admitted to Stanford University. An exciting time for most high school seniors was a worrisome time for Sylvia. The idea of leaving home seemed impossible due to her reliance on others for help.
“The thought of going away to college is scary, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up academically, that I would struggle to make friends, that I’d be lonely. But I also worried that my wheelchair and disability would interfere with my ability to meet new people,” shares Sylvia.
Everything changed in July when Sylvia was invited to Team Training and was matched with expertly trained Service Dog Nicola.
“Nicola has given me a sense of security and independence that I’ve never felt before. I no longer need to be afraid of being left alone because I know that if I drop something, she’ll be there. I know that I no longer need to be worried when I’m walking on campus and need help to carry my books because she’ll be there. I don’t need to be worried about days when I’m feeling particularly lonely because she’ll be there,” Sylvia says with a warm smile.
Canine Companions Service Dog Nicola is expertly trained in over 40 commands to assist Sylvia. Nicola can open doors, pick up dropped items, pull a manual wheelchair and more. Much more – she will be with Sylvia during this transformative time in her life.
“Nicola and I are college gals, she will always be there for me, and I’ll be there for her,” Sylvia shares excitedly.