February 9, 2024

Located in ACE, the Space Focuses on Student Mental Health and Sensory Experiences

NHTI's Restorative Room, located in the Learning Commons Library building
NHTI’s Restorative Room, located in the Learning Commons Library building

CONCORD – Dedicated wellness and safe spaces are growing in popularity on college campuses nationwide, and students at NHTI – Concord’s Community College are poised to benefit from the new Restorative Room, now open.

While NHTI’s campus offers many amenities focusing on studying, many students wait for significant periods of time between classes and need a space that is separate from their work.

The space, located in the college’s Academic Center for Excellence, is a large room where students can be at peace – working, drawing, relaxing, and following their own pursuits while on campus before, between, and after their classes.

The Restorative Room was initially conceptualized and funded by NHTI’s Student Senate. Ownership was transferred to the college’s Alpha Upsilon Omicron chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society, when the Senate had to focus on other initiatives.

PTK has since completed the project, reinventing the vision and furnishing the space into a cohesive atmosphere focused on one goal: student comfort.

“Throughout this project, we’ve transformed what was once a utilitarian computer lab into a welcoming environment for relaxation,” says Trisha Dionne, AYO chapter advisor. “This new facility provides resources for mental and physical wellbeing and encompasses rest and rejuvenation.”

The Restorative Room includes a Zen garden, sensory explorations, a custom-painted wall mural, and accessibility features built in. There is a natural-feel grass rug, low-recline chairs, a rocking chair, and back-friendly armchairs for reading and relaxing.

The opportunity to be involved in the Restorative Room project was a boon for NTHI’s PTK chapter.

“Our chapter worked hand in hand with the administration, faculty, and staff,” says Jess Morgan, NHTI staff member and adjunct faculty, and honorary PTK member. “Our student members are now on a first-name basis with our president, and we’ve recently awarded him with honorary membership into PTK.”

And, it was a great opportunity for PTK members – namely the students.

“Our students gained priceless real-world experience during this project,” says Dionne. “Together, we created and managed a comprehensive line-item budget, coordinated delivery scheduled and library loan items, collaborated with NHTI maintenance and Campus Safety, and even learned to constructed a digital 3d model illustrating our vision for the space and used it in our budget presentation to the Student Senate to obtain funding.”

Current NHTI student and PTK member Rebecca “Becker” Gibson states, “This was a fun creative challenge. I am especially proud of the cohesiveness that we were able to pull off with the furniture while keeping the different sections [of the room] distinct and functional. And, I am so happy as a student to have low-seated furniture. You will probably find me draped on the squiggly couch for the next few weeks.”

Artistic Vision Brought to Life

Student artists Elvin Colon and Seda Tuncok, who created the mural in NHTI’s new Restorative Room
Student artists Elvin Colon and Seda Tuncok, who created the mural in NHTI’s new Restorative Room

The Restorative Room mural is thanks to two highly artistic students: Elvin Colón, NHTI Industrial Design and Visual Arts dual major, and his business partner Seda Tuncok.

“Student Senate thought it was a great idea to approve more student involvement [in the Restorative Room] and allow Elvin and Seda the opportunity to create something beautiful,” said Daniel Fojtik, NHTI student and member of the Student Senate. “Elvin and Seda were both very attentive and genuinely listened, which made our group feel heard and excited to see what we could do together.”

Tuncok is an Art major at Northern Essex Community College in its Class of 2024, with plans to attend MassArt. She traveled to campus with six design ideas for the Student Senate and was hired, with Colón, on sight. The final design, with greens, deep blues, and an energetic-but-gentle pink background, was approved and work began in 2023.

“I don’t think we could have had a better crew to work with,” said Fojtik. “Elvin and Seda truly went above and beyond our expectations, offering more insight and suggestions than just the mural.”

Colón and Tuncok’s composition features gigantic Hasta leaves, rubber plants, and other natural shapes to increase the feeling of relaxation and inspiration in the space. The final mural emphasizes the movement and curves of the leaves and was completed in just over a month.

“With art, there is a lot of opportunity,” says Colón. “I’m an amateur artist – I didn’t draw at all before college – but with some hustle, I was able to get this great opportunity. There is way more out there than you think, and you’re capable of way more than you think. If you told me 3 years ago I’d be doing this, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

For additional information on NHTI’s Academic Center for Excellence and its new Restorative Room installation, contact Rebecca Dean, NHTI’s Vice President of Student Success and Enrollment Management, at [email protected].

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NHTI – Concord’s Community College

NHTI – Concord’s Community College is a dynamic public 2-year college that provides rewarding academics and a full campus experience for students, businesses, and the community. NHTI offers 80+ academic programs to 4,600+ students annually. Our programs include Nursing, Dental Hygiene, Engineering, Liberal and Visual Arts, Education, Criminal Justice, and Mathematics, all with our stellar reputation for academic excellence earned over our more than 50 years serving the Concord community. NHTI is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the NE Association of Schools and Colleges and is part of the Community College System of New Hampshire.

Press Contact           Amber Gavriluk  |  603-230-4001  |  [email protected]