Big Tex, the co-star of Noland's graduation photos, is a feeding-habituated alligator.
Noland, who will graduate with a degree in wildlife and fisheries sciences from the Texas A&M University on Friday, has been interning at a Beaumont rescue centre since May.
"He's one of my best friends here", Noland said of Big Tex, the sanctuary's almost 14-foot-long gator that weighs 1,000 pounds.
She hopes to continue to working with wildlife after graduating.
"It's just like how your dog would treat you if you treat him well", Noland told The Eagle. "When I'm telling Tex to "come here" using a hand motion I will reward him, tickle his nose and toss food in his mouth". "He does pick favorites, and I'm honored he likes me enough to let me get in there and play with him every day", Noland told Fox News.
'It took him a few weeks for him to like me, ' she said as she described the budding friendship. He will rise out of the water if she gives him the command 'Up, up, up'.
Mackenzie Noland's graduation snaps won't soon be forgotten - because they feature a 14ft alligator.
"Thank you to everyone who has shared my posts and given me all of this support", Noland wrote on Facebook.
The photos were posted on social media over the weekend, and immediately received a much larger response than she was expecting, she said.
Although the gargantuan reptile looks intimidating, Noland said he's a gentle giant. But Noland wants to assure everyone that she always follows safety guidelines set out by the park and would never purposely put herself in any danger. "I wouldn't be doing any of this stuff if I thought I was in danger". We look at all that behavior.