By Lorena Grajales, News Editor-
On Thursday, Sept. 24, the office of Student and Family Engagement offered students the opportunity to de-stress from online classes, midterms and studying, by building their own stuffed animals.
This event was open to currently enrolled UTC students only, who had not participated in the first event held during Welcome Week. Materials were provided for in-person sessions which included a bear, stuffing and a UTC shirt to dress it up.
Three in-person sessions were held in thirty-minute sessions from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the University Center’s Tennessee Room, with one virtual session for those who preferred to stay distant.
Staff members engaged students in conversation with ice-breakers and provided assistance with building the stuffed animal both face-to-face and through a Zoom session. Students who participated in the virtual event were given the opportunity to have supplies shipped to them, at no cost.
According to Assistant Director for Student Engagement, Laura Petrus, because of the positive feedback during Welcome Week, one thousand supplies were ordered for this event and future events throughout the semester. Petrus also stated the importance of having these type of events for students on and off campus.
“I think building connections with other students is a really great way to feel connected to campus. So, we hope that when they look at their bear that they get to take away, that they’re just reminded of our campus community and that they’re welcome here…” she said.
To comply with health regulations, sanitizing stations were made available at check-in, tables were socially distanced six feet apart, masks were required upon entry and staff wore gloves to sanitize chairs and tables during the 15 minute breaks between each of the sessions.
UTC freshman, Erin Siemen shared her experience with meeting students while participating in the activity.
“It was fun, the bear is really cute and I feel like I got to maybe talk to people outside my major that [I] normally wouldn’t have gotten to talk to” Siemen shared. “It was like something fun to do while you’re meeting new people.”
The event finalized when students cleaned up their stations and took their handmade stuffed bears back to their dorms. The office for Student and Family Engagement requested feedback from participants, in hopes of perfecting events to come.