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KENNESAW, Ga. - He went through every class his owner did, so why wouldn't Sam Hogle's seeing-eye dog get to walk across the commencement stage with Sam? School officials didn't mind, so Hogle became the first graduate in recent memory to escort his guide dog in front of a cheering audience at KSU'scommencementFriday.

His mother had even made a graduation gown for Mason the dog. But it seemed to trip him up, so Sam settled for a tassle around Mason's collar instead.

Born blind, Sam Hogle also survived childhood cancer to progress through school.

"The cancer and my blindness are unrelated, so I joke that I just have bag genes," Hogle said.

But he also had the genetics and family support to drive himself toward his goals. He was an Eagle Scout at 17, and said he never was allowed to consider not going to college.

"I know other people with disabilities who didn't make it this far, so I know in that way it is special," Hogle said. "But I just feel it's something you're supposed to do in society, and something everyone does."

Hogle said he's planning to apply to be an intake specialist at the Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta. He'd like to be a therapist who helps out others with disabilities. If that doesn't work out, he'll consider grad school.

Whatever happens next, he will likely have to have a new guide dog in the coming years. After years of working with Mason, a transition will be tough, and probably disorienting--not to mention sad. But Hogle said that process, along with facing life after graduation, is all a part of moving forward.

"It's all a part of life," Hogle said. "The next step is the next step, so it'll get done."

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