Bernard, who experienced a spinal cord injury followed by a double leg amputation as a result of a sky diving accident in 2012, is heading into his second semester at Colorado State University’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program. He is the first paraplegic to enroll in the program. With his trusted service dog, Corky, by his side, Bernard is taking on the demanding curriculum.
With class work and lab work as part of his studies, Bernard has worked with CSU’s staff to help ensure he is able to take care of his body during his long days. He has an air mattress in one of the lecture halls where he regularly attends class so that he can lie down and do pressure relief. And Corky’s assistance comes in handy on a regular basis.
“He picks stuff up that I drop, carries stuff for me, opens doors,” Bernard shares. “This dog has brought such joy to my life.”
When it comes to the types of animals he wants to work with once he has his DVM degree, Bernard hasn’t quite figured that out yet. Still, he maintains a realistic outlook:
“I’m probably not going to be an elephant vet just to prove I can do anything. The most realistic thing is likely small-animal practice, but I’m also very interested in surgery.”
“You may think some opportunities are out of reach for you if you are in a wheelchair,” says Bernard. Clearly, he has proven just the opposite as he continues to push forward to achieve his goal.
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