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SOAR Helps Students De-Stress with Puppies and Opportunities for the Future

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Stressed and tired UCI students getting ready to enter finals week descended upon the Gateway Upper Plaza to pet puppies and learn about several campus organizations and programs on Nov. 17. 

Hosted by the Student Outreach and Retention Center (SOAR), the Puppies and Pathfinders event is aimed to educate students about the resources available to them on campus.

Puppies and Pathfinders is hosted each quarter throughout the school year, typically around week nine. This quarter, SOAR collaborated with Pet Partners, an organization that provides therapy animals for organizations in need of a fluffy pick-me-up. 

A line of students quickly formed before the event officially began: it served as the perfect mental break for students carrying the weight of impending finals and the ongoing strike.

The event began at a check-in booth where students received a passport card. Students used their card as a pass to pet the dogs and get free Costco pizza, but they had to visit seven booths and receive stamps from each organization. 

The Division of Career Pathways, Research Outreach, Dream Center and a variety of other campus resource centers set up booths. Each organization shared a common mission of helping students from all walks of life successfully gain an education and attain their career goals. 

Some booths offered self-care items, such as DIY essential oil tubes and satchels of lavender, while others educated students about the school’s many services. Students at the Research Outreach’s booth designed their own colorful bracelets and learned about research opportunities on campus. The Dream Center’s booth passed out stickers and asked students to define “self-care” while informing them about resources made for DACA recipient students. 

Four dogs were present to help students de-stress. One fenced-off area was the temporary home to a particularly popular pair of golden retrievers, a brother and sister duo named Joey and Sassy. Students swarmed and excitedly waited in line to sit with the pair and pet them. Just being near the dogs put a smile on many students’ faces. 

But, behind all the de-stressing, the student workers are still at odds with the UC system, and tensions are high. The merriment was interrupted by a short picket line that formed in the middle of the booths. The union strike is a situation that not even the positive energy of the event could easily fix. 

Regardless, the event was a good momentary distraction from the pressure of finals and school work. It was perfect timing for some, like second year biological sciences student Aqsa Motiwala who was in need of a pleasant surprise. 

“I was so stressed today. I have a midterm [on] Monday,” Motiwala said. “This is so much better!”

With finals nearing and the fate of a strike remains unknown, SOAR continues to remind students to focus on self-care. 

Asia Boyd is a Campus intern for the fall 2022 quarter. She can be reached at