With a plan in hand, Valarie Franklin and her service dog, Sunny, arrived at Ferris State University ready to hit the books.
The self-professed planner says it didn’t matter if her plotted course changed along the way as long as she had a goal to work toward.
Having a passion for medicine, Franklin’s plan came to fruition this spring as she was awarded a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.
Setting goals is what has helped the Davison native find success in her endeavors. Another factor in Franklin’s success has been Sunny, a 10-year-old Golden Retriever.
Franklin has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or Brittle Bone Disease. Sunny’s presence has allowed her to enjoy college and live on her own. She says her Ferris experience with Sunny has been great.
“People ask about Sunny and want to know more about him,” she says.
“In fact, I joke that when I go places people immediately say with enthusiasm, ‘Hi Sunny,’ and then they say, ‘Oh, hi Val,’” she laughs, adding it doesn’t bother her when Sunny is the center of attention.
She is pleased Sunny has been welcomed with open arms wherever she goes. But, as Franklin’s career as a pharmacist begins, Sunny will soon retire from his profession as a service dog. Franklin says due to Sunny’s age, a successor will soon replace him.
Franklin’s new service dog, River, is completing training in five to six months, at which time Sunny will retire to a more leisurely lifestyle around the house, she says.
While Franklin’s Ferris experience has been positive, she says her advice to incoming freshmen is to recognize it’s okay to change your major. She also notes a student’s undergraduate classes are the building blocks for the future.
“Students don’t think they need to take classes that are not part of their major,” she explains. “But, they need to realize the classes you take as an undergraduate gain in relevance the further along you get in your college education.”
With her cousin inquiring about the pharmacy profession, Franklin says students also shouldn’t be swayed by salary. “You have to be prepared to work hard,” she adds.
She points out she wasn’t the only one working hard, though. Franklin offers kudos to not only the Pharmacy program’s faculty with whom she’s developed close relationships, but she also wants to note her appreciation of the college’s secretarial staff.
“When you have a problem, they’re always there to help,” she says. “I knew before calling that even if the problem was beyond their scope of duty, they would help me find an answer.
“It’s great knowing such amazing people really care about being there for the students.”