“When he took the diploma, it made me so happy,” Hawley told InsideEdition.com. “Because if you watch the video, he looks right at the photographer and is like, ‘This is my moment. I’m owning this moment!”’ Their journey began 30 months ago, when Hawley was finishing up her undergraduate studies.

“I was very depressed. I have a chronic pain condition and I was told I would not be able to walk across the stage … I could only use crutches. And it made me depressed,” Hawley said.

After seeing her psychologist, who had a service dog, Hawley was inspired to apply for one of her own.

They were hooked up via paws4people. The organization raises, trains, and places assistance dogs with first responders, veterans, and people with disabilities.

On the same day Hawley she interviewed with Clarkson, she was accepted to paws4people and was notified she’d get to meet her dog in a couple of months.

“We’ve been in it from the beginning. We moved to New York together, we went through school together and we moved back to North Carolina together,” Hawley said. “He made going to school a lot easier for me because I had anxiety with people and going out by myself, and he opened doors I never thought would’ve been opened.”

Because Griffin never missed a class, Hawley thought he earned this reward.

“I was so excited from day one (and) pushed for him to get a diploma. To me it wasn’t good enough just for him to walk across the stage. He did everything, he didn’t miss a class. He did everything I went to and I thought he deserved it, because I wouldn’t have been able to finish,” she said.

That’s not all the pair have to celebrate.

“I met my fiance through the organization I got my dog from. We started talking soon after I got Griffin and he proposed using my dog in November,” she said.

Hawley is ready to start her next chapter in life — again, thanks to Griffin.

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