Dozens Of Pets Donning Caps & Gowns Will Turn Your Frown Upside Down

By Travis Greenwood

Eckerd College's class of 2017 includes some unexpected graduates: Ten dogs, nine cats, three rats, a snake, a guinea pig, a desert tortoise, a parakeet, and a hedgehog!

The assorted critters — all of whom are companion animals that live with their humans in on-campus dorms — were feted this month at the Florida liberal arts university.

While pets have been welcome at the school since 1973, the graduation ceremony is a relatively new tradition that was first introduced in 2013.

At this year's event, the animals were called to the stage one-by-one to raucous cheers from friends, family, and faculty — and some of them even walked in caps and gowns!

Greeting them at the podium was Donald Eastman, the college's president.

The graduates were honored with a diploma (ok, fine, a "certificate"), college branded ID tag, and a photo.

In remarks to the audience, the president revealed that "this really is one of my favorite events at Eckerd College".

“[It] tells you more about what sort of place this is than any other,” Eastman added.

According to the college, "more than 190 furred, feathered and scaled companions have graduated from Eckerd since the school began holding a separate ceremony in 2013."

Congrats to all the newly-minted grads and good luck with the job hunt (because you'll need it!). To see more snaps of the ceremony, bounce on over to the college's Flickr.