In a time of uncertainty, “Zoom fatigue” and isolation, everyone could use some extra encouragement. Jacqie Hasan, an Academic Success Coordinator went the extra mile to do just that.
Hasan, currently in her eighth year in her position, curated the Warner College Peer Support Group which convenes virtually, weekly on Mondays in the Fall 2020 semester, allowing students to connect on Zoom to share their experiences, struggles and concerns about their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think it makes everybody feel better just to be heard from somebody,” Hasan said. “That can be a powerful thing. Warner students are a tight–knit community, and I think this is a community that you can trust [and] have that environment to speak about something that is important to you, and you’ll feel heard.”
Each Monday night, different topics are open for discussion including maintaining relationships while social distancing, self-care, coping techniques and more.
“I care about my students. I feel like everyone is going through such a hard time and I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “This is one way that I felt like I could provide [something]. I can be there for students for appointment times, but sometimes they do not need me; they need each other.”
Journey with Mental Health
The reality surrounding the pandemic has caused statistics of depression and anxiety to heighten these past few months in Colorado and nationwide. Isolation, lack of motivation and the struggle to find purpose through the health crisis and the current political atmosphere in the U.S. has caused extreme emotional strain. In 2020, more people are exhibiting more severe symptoms of depression and anxiety than those tested in years pre-pandemic, according to Mental Health America.
“I sometimes feel helpless like everyone does during this time. Being able to see [my students] in the [support group] is definitely a way that I can feel like I have some meaning in the world. It means quite a bit to me.”
During Hasan’s time at CSU as a student, she also struggled with mental health. After taking a chance with the on-campus mental health support and advisors, she found that being able to provide a support system for others was her calling. Having experienced anxiety and depression herself from a young age, she found that sharing her thoughts to someone who could simply just be there to listen gave her more perspective than she thought possible.
In March, the way we approached academics, social interactions, and self-care changed drastically after President Joyce McConnell moved all university operations online for the remained of the spring 2020 semester. Students and faculty alike are still learning and adapting to see what works best for them Hasan said. Her goal then was to add transparency and honesty in these reflections through her facilitation of the support group.
“The support group allows students to slow down…and think maybe it is okay to relax and allow your frustrations and sadness to come out where [normally] students would gloss over it,” Hasan said. “Students have talked with each other about [their experiences], and I know a couple friendships have started because of it.”
Impact on Students
In her position as academic advisor to Human Dimensions of Natural Resource (HDNR) undergraduates, Hasan’s efforts to push her students to success both academically and in their personal lives has resonated with many students in the HDNR program.
“She has really been the key to my success,” said junior HDNR student and Hasan’s advisee, Emma Thompson. “It is so impressive how much she knows about the field and how she knows to really connect with students and give them the best experience at Warner College.”
“[Jacqie] trying to build that community during tough times just really attests to her dedication to the Warner message and her students about how much she cares for them.”
When another of Hasan’s advisees, Parker Allen, expressed an interest in applying for the Environmental Learning Center as an educator, Hasan stood behind him and helped him get the position his freshman year. Now a senior, Allen plans to graduate and start a career in outdoor education.
“She is the highlight of the department,” Allen said. “Just making sure these students have someone to talk to is great. She put me on that path and just to see where it goes is and turns out is [amazing].”
Whether its formulating a graduation track, bonding over current reading lists during advising appointments or listening to the voices of Warner students on Monday night, Hasan is an example of what it means to make a difference. Despite the circumstances of this semester transforming our daily lives, the Warner College Peer Support Group serves as peaceful reminder to be kind to each other, and to ourselves.
For more information on meetings times and topics, visit the Warner College Peer Support Group webpage.
For more mental health resources on campus, visit the CSU Health Network website.