Sunshine on a Cloudy Day | Queens University of Charlotte

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day
October 07, 2021

The paws-itive impact of companion animals at Queens

by Morgan Williams

For many students, rigorous course loads coupled with unique living accommodations make owning a pet impossible amidst university studies. However, the companionship of a four-legged friend can ease the stress of demanding semesters.

Queens' Assistant Dean of Health and Wellness, ​Jill Perry, RN, MSN, has introduced an outlet for mental health well-being to the Queens community.

Perry knows the power of puppy love and adopted Sunshine and Nola from the Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue years ago. While the dogs belong to her, they have found a second home in the Health and Wellness Center where they are cared for and cherished by students and staff daily.

"Every morning I say, 'you ready to go to work?' Then, they jump into the car because they know they have a job to do," Perry said.

As Queens stress-reduction team, Nola and Sunshine have had a tremendous impact on students' lives. Two students, Avery Marquis '24 and Lydia Cunning '23, walk the dogs every day. In a time when it is crucial to keep a healthy distance from others, Avery has found it more challenging than in years past to connect with other students in her community. Her discovery of the four-legged stress reduction team has offered a playful solution.


Avery Marquis '24 walks golden retriever, Nola, around the residential quad.

"When I am walking, the dogs may stop and want to sniff someone which gives me a chance to talk to and meet people," Marquis said. "It has really developed a sense of community, not just for me, but for everyone. Everyone gets a little puppy love and happiness."

September was bittersweet for the Wake Forest native. The month marked the beginning of her journey as a double major in Biology and International Studies at Queens and also honored the 10th anniversary of the loss of her father, who served for 25 years as a U.S. Navy SEAL. Marquis plans to use the education she receives at Queens to honor her father's legacy by serving her country through medicine. For this sophomore transfer student, access to loving animals has offered comfort and community amidst a season of change and remembrance.

Don't forget about Sunshine (and Nola) next time you are having a cloudy day.

Watch a video about the companion animals from Spectrum News 1.

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