Students enjoy opportunity to unwind during De-stress Fest

Students were happy to meet bernedoodle Jasper at the event.

Students throughout the campus gathered at the Lecture Hall commons Thursday for De-stress Fest, a biannual Student Life event replete with numerous activities to help students decompress before their final exams.

From therapy dogs, five-minute massage stations and games, to art tables and an opportunity to learn about campus offerings, students appreciated the opportunity to unwind.

Among the most popular visitors at the event were therapy dogs that reveled in the attention from students eager to meet them.

Students enjoyed meeting bernedoodle Jasper during the De-stress Fest.

One of the therapy dogs that received much attention and petting was Jasper, a five-year-old bernedoodle, a cross between a Bernese mountain dog and poodle.

Jasper’s owner, Susan Bocanegra, is a volunteer with Paws for Service, a local nonprofit that trains, certifies and places dog therapy teams in the greater San Antonio area. Bocanegra said she could sense the immediate delight on students’ faces when meeting Jasper.

“I had no idea … what a difference [having Jasper here] makes,” she said. “I don’t know what it is about a dog. I think it’s because they just love.”

Paws for Service volunteer Kim Greer posed with her beloved standard poodle, Gracie.

Paws for Service volunteer Kim Greer, whose seven-year-old standard poodle Gracie was happy to visit with students, said petting a dog brings instant smiles.

(Photo by Ben Rivers, associate director of student activities). The therapy dogs at the event were very popular with students.

“The tactile touch …  for students and patients, it’s just really calming,” she said.

During the two-hour, midday event, students also had an opportunity to meet with representatives from across the university, including Student Counseling, where they received information about the university’s counseling services as well as some aromatherapy cotton balls with essential oils for relaxation.

Christiane Meireles, PhD, RD, LD, clinical associate professor in the School of Nursing, provided students important information about anti-inflammatory foods and foods that help increase focus as students prepare for finals. Some anti-inflammatory foods were available for the students. Information about the Green Wellness Program — Plants-2-Plate — was also available. The six-month program may benefit people living with heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity and other chronic conditions.

Representatives from the UT Police Department provided students information about UT Health SAfe, a mobile safety app for emergency notifications, UTPD’s self-defense training program and Safe Walk, a program that provides uniformed public safety officers to safely escort students or employees on and around campus anytime one feels uneasy walking alone at night.

Representatives from financial aid were also on hand to answer questions about scholarships and much more.

School of Nursing Student Andrea Sanchez meticulously painted an image of the brain at one of the art tables during the event.

Another popular attraction at the event were art tables that gave students an opportunity to creatively express themselves.

Students at the tables said they appreciated the opportunity to bond with friends and unwind before finals.

Second-year medical student Ayomidea Akinsooto bonded with her friends while creating a beautiful piece of artwork at the event.

School of Nursing student Andrea Sanchez, who meticulously painted an image of the brain at one of the art tables, said working on her piece was very calming.

“It helped me de-stress and relax and get my mind off of school for a minute,” she said.

Second-year medical student Ayomidea Akinsooto, who bonded with her friends while creating a beautiful piece of artwork said, “Being able to do this with my friends is very helpful. It’s … a good way to bond.”

The next De-stress Fest event will be held in the spring of 2024.

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