Getting By With a Little Help from Furry Friends
By Julia Faherty october 26, 2017
Many students find a source of peace, love, and support in animals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and feelings of loneliness.
Some Tech students know that to be true first-hand. Three Tech students share their experiences as pet owners.
Connor and Molly
Second-year mechanical engineering major Connor Meeds came to Tech from Groton, Massachusetts.
During his first year, Meeds experienced mental health issues due to stressors that out-of-state students sometimes face during their transition from high school to college. Meeds attempted to get counseling on campus, but found the most support in an unexpected resource — a hamster named Molly.
“Last year, I spent the day at a friend’s house and had the opportunity to meet his pet hamster,” Meeds said. “I was in a bad place at the time, but the hamster made me genuinely smile. I realized that a hamster might provide me some much-needed happiness, so I went to Petco and got the biggest hamster in the store.”
Meeds now lives in his fraternity house with Molly. “She’s a very caring hamster and has fit in well at the house. Everyone really loves her there.”
“I started taking pictures of Molly with her fans to capture the genuine smile that Molly invokes in people. After the semester ended, I went back to my hometown and wanted to make use of Molly’s followers. I started an online shop, Molly’s Co., and promised to donate 20 percent of the proceeds to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.”
After coming back to campus this fall, Meeds has promoted mental health awareness using Molly’s Co. as his platform.
“My team and I actively meet with students across campus to give them the chance to share their mental health-related experiences and stories.” Pictures of these students are posted on the Molly’s Co. Instagram account with captions that reflect the students’ stories.
Recently, Meeds sold Molly’s Co. stickers on Tech Green with 100 percent of profits donated to the Georgia Tech Counseling Center.
“The support from campus has been amazing, and I’d like to give back as much as I can,” he said.
Shannon and Molly
Third-year industrial engineering and computer science major Shannon Gerhard lives in Square on Fifth apartments with Molly, her five-year-old cat.
“Molly was originally owned by my boyfriend, but she came to live with me after his father moved to an apartment without animals. I knew Molly for several years beforehand so her transition into my apartment went really smoothly.”
Gerhard did not plan to be a pet owner while at Tech but did grow up with pets in her home. She had a dog and three cats before college and was always a cat person. Luckily, Molly fit well with Gerhard’s lifestyle.
“I love having Molly with me — her random acts of love may be rare, but they brighten my day. I enjoy spending time with her and I think we get along pretty well.”
Recently, Gerhard brought Molly on a five-hour road trip. “She loved peering out the window and sitting in my lap. She was a little timid about using her litterbox in the car, but other than that the trip was perfect.”
Gerhard has been able to balance school life with her pet-owning responsibilities.
“I make sure that I’m taking care of Molly’s needs. In the end, the relationship is mutually beneficial. Molly keeps me company and helps me relieve stress while I ensure that she’s healthy and happy.”