HOUSTON (KTRK/CNN) – A college student in Texas celebrated his graduation with his pet snake, who he credits with helping him through school.
Students like Danielle Motley noticed something unusual at Texas Southern University’s graduation Saturday, and it was wrapped around one graduate’s arm.
"I think Al Green was still up giving his speech, and we were like, "That's a snake right there." And we were like, ‘Is that real?’ He touched it, he pet it and we realized it was real then,” Motley said.
Motley says the snake was the talk of her section, but eventually, the students let it go.
"Everybody was like meh, no use in freaking out. We were packed in there like sardines at this graduation, so there was nowhere to run,” she said.
The graduate who brought the snake is Denzel Young, and he says everyone knew him on campus as the guy who always brought his pet, a 3-year-old ball python named Persia.
"When I did have my ups and downs with school, just having her around makes me feel the positivity,” Young said.
Young says Persia takes him away from everything.
"I told everybody, ‘This is my graduation, so I'm going to do what I want to do. I'm going to bring it.’ And that's what I ended up doing,” he said.
The university says only service animals are allowed at graduation and that Young must have had the snake under his gown and slipped it past the graduation marshals.
"I really didn't try to hide it. I just had it on my wrist. But you know, the gown is kind of long, so people technically didn't see it unless I lifted up my sleeve for them to see it,” Young said.
Some say bringing the snake was inappropriate.
"To each his own, but to me, it was no big deal,” Young said.
The graduate says he handed the snake off to his younger brother right before he got up to walk across the stage, so Persia wasn’t actually there when he received his diploma.
Copyright 2017 KTRK, Danielle Motley, Denzel Young via CNN. All rights reserved.