Service Dog inspires Cecil College Scholarship

Published on September 14, 2023

Polito in front of the Cecil College sign on the North East Campus.

NORTH EAST, Md.: The Cecil College Foundation is excited to announce the creation of The Polito Scholarship that supports Cecil County students. This endowed scholarship fund is designed to help students fulfill their dream of completing an associate degree at Cecil College.

“This scholarship is in recognition and appreciation for the acceptance Cecil College has shown in the initial training of these service dogs,” said Cecil College Dean of Arts and Sciences Veronica Dougherty, Ph.D., who has worked with the Seeing Eyes Foundation to help train service dogs. The first year of a puppy’s life is spent with volunteers who are charged with exposing pups to many diverse environments. “A College campus offers an interesting and challenging terrain for these trainees. There are different floor surfaces, stair configurations, glass doors, and elevators, as well as exposure to a variety of people and activities.”

The Polito Scholarship was named for one of the 30 seeing-eye puppies trained by Dr. Dougherty while on the Cecil College Campus over the last three decades. Polito was on campus almost every day for two semesters, greeted by students, faculty, and staff. This scholarship was established to support a Cecil County resident enrolled at Cecil College.

The College, which prohibits pets on both campuses except for the North East campus nature trail (animals are allowed on campuses in a working capacity with approval), has an environment where these trainees acclimate to large crowds and loud noises at the athletic events and navigate the theater environment at the Milburn Stone Theatre.

According to Dr. Dougherty, this level of exposure makes the service dog flexible with its placement upon graduating from the Seeing Eyes Foundation. She appreciates the College community for providing access to the entire North East campus and the support of the faculty, staff and students.

Polito has been placed with a visually impaired attorney for the past four years.

To apply for this and other Cecil College scholarships, visit If you want to donate to this scholarship and support a student through a tax-deductible gift, please contact the Cecil College Foundation at, call 410-287-1146 or visit