LAKELAND, Fla. - The college fall semester is underway and one out-of-state addition to the faculty staff at Southeastern University has all of the students vying for a spot in her class.
"My dog is Lexi, she's a therapy dog, a certified therapy dog," shared Carolyn Burnett.
Originally from Ohio, Burnett's golden retriever Lexi is a rescue dog that she trained specifically to be a therapy dog.
"I was looking for opportunities for her as a therapy dog," said Burnett. "(When) I got the job here at Southeastern University in the Tutoring Center... we worked out an opportunity for her to be here every day when I'm here for work."
What a difference that has made on campus.
"I knew it would be a good thing when she came, but I had no idea how wonderful it would be," Burnette commented.
"Lexi's here full time," She added. "She's here from about 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day."
Before Lexi, the tutoring center had a student sign-in sheet and a nominal amount of visitors, but that has all changed.
"Many students come just for her," said Burnett with a smile. "One of the things we had to do was add 'visit Lexi'."
But the real benefit is to the students who are already in the transition of going to college and maintaining good grades in a time of concerns over COVID-19 and other world affairs.
"I've seen students come in and the anxiety just melts away," Burnett shared. "It has just been a wonderful opportunity to see what a difference a dog can make in helping people feel more comfortable to relax and get rid of some of those anxieties."
Lexi and her human, Carolyn Burnett are on campus every day in the Academic Center for Enrichment.
Students enrolled in fall classes are welcome to spend time with her any time during the day while she's on campus.
LINK: For more information about SEU visit https://www.seu.edu/.