Woman Celebrates Graduation with Beloved Pet Rat Who Helped Her Through Master's Program

Sara Martin recently graduated from the University of South Florida with a master's degree in global sustainability and credits her pet rat Remi for helping her earn the achievement.

If this rat's life became a Disney movie, it would be called "Grad-atouille."

Remi is a pet dumbo rat — a breed known for its bigger ears — who belongs to Sara Martin, a 23-year-old Florida native who recently graduated with a master's degree in global sustainability from the University of South Florida.

To celebrate her graduation, Martin wanted to do something that honored Remi since the rat offered her priceless support and companionship throughout her master's program. In the months leading up to her final days of school, Martin started posting photos of Remi on her social media accounts, including shots of the pet — named after the rat in Disney's Ratatouille — in a homemade chef's hat.

"I was getting ready for graduation and talking to my friend, who was taking photos for me, and was like, 'Oh my gosh, we should take pictures with Remi!'" Martin tells PEOPLE of what led to her adorable photoshoot with the pet. To make the shoot even sweeter, Martin decided to craft Remi her very own graduation cap.

Remi the Rat Grad
Sara Martin/@saraxmartin
Remi the Rat Grad
Sara Martin/@saraxmartin

"I decided to do that because she's been my support animal through graduate school. And especially since everything merged online, she sat there through classes with me. "It's only fitting that she gets to be part of it," she adds.

The pictures and videos Martin has shared on Instagram from the precious photoshoot are her posts with "the most engagement," including plenty of positive comments congratulating the pair.

Martin first met Remi in November 2019 when she brought the 5-week-old rat home. Martin decided to get a pet rat at the start of her master's program in an effort to ward off feelings of isolation.

"I graduated from undergrad a year early, so all my friends were still in undergrad world. I had to make new friends, and my classes were at night; theirs were during the day. I was living by myself. I didn't have roommates. There were times that I was living alone, and I felt those feelings of isolation creep in," Martin says of starting her graduate program.

"I always coped with anxiety, and stress, and feelings of isolation with animals because I grew up on a farm," she adds.

Wanting to do what was best for her mental health, Martin decided to look into getting a pet to provide her with the companionship she found with animals in the past. She landed on welcoming a rat into her life after researching the pets based on a recommendation from a friend. Martin has learned that rats make playful, social, and relatively easy to care for pets.

Remi the Rat Grad
Sara Martin/@saraxmartin

"I can go on road trips, and she can come with me, no problem. She's potty trained. So that's something that is just really convenient," Martin says of the many things that make Remi wonderful.

"They do bond to you and have a best friend," she adds.

Martin says that those thinking of getting a pet rat should know the rodents have plenty of energy, especially when they are young, and are nocturnal. Rat owners should be prepared to give their pets things to do, things to chew, and things to play with at night.

Remi the Rat Grad
Sara Martin/@saraxmartin

"Know their natural needs and behaviors, because as long as you're doing things that let them carry out their natural behaviors, they'll be a lot happier and healthier," Martin advises.

"They're way easier than dogs. If you don't have the commitment for a dog, I think that rats are actually a really good option because they do bond to you," she adds. "They are very affectionate towards you. I pet her, and she falls asleep in my lap now."

Martin and Remi, who will be two at the end of the month, are looking forward to the adventures ahead now they have conquered getting a master's degree.

Related Articles