Brain Bites workshops go unattended while students stress over exams



Lynne Martin held a Brain Bites workshop on Thursday, April 18 to help students build tools for managing exam stress. No one showed up.


“That’s been the pattern,” said Martin.


Martin is a tutor and works out of the Academic Success Centre at Red River College. She helps students develop learning strategies and combat stress.


The following Monday, McKenzie Choy sat in the Learning Commons with two other students doing a final cram session. He appeared tense. Choy said he was aware the Academic Success Centre had programs to help students deal with stress.


“I would rather focus on exams than mental health issues,” said Choy. He then left to take an exam.


Martin said she feels good test-taking and good mental health are connected. She said stress affects our “lizard brain” and she called this “orientation to threat.” Stress disrupts higher thought patterns and can affect students’ performance, Martin said.


Across the library from Choy, Ken Nguyen was studying at a table with eight other Business Information Technology students. They were about to take the first of four exams that week.


“I’m stressed,” said Nguyen. He paused, his face went blank, and then he laughed.


“There’s pressure to do well,” said Gandll Tolentino, who stood behind Nguyen.

Paul Cutts (nearest left) and Gandll Tolentino (nearest right), study before their Business Information Technology exam on April 23, 2018. / RICK CLEMENT

Tolentino said he felt his future job prospects and scholarship opportunities could be affected by a negative outcome on his exams. He even joked that his parents would disown him.


“Stop it, man,” said Nguyen as he cradled his head in his hands.


Paul Cutts glanced back and forth between Gandll and his laptop screen. He admitted that he, too, felt the stress of exams.


Nguyen, Gandll and Cutts said they had not heard about the Academic Success Centre or the Brain Bites workshops. They said they felt that if they were better informed they may have made use of this resource. Then they stood up to head to an exam.


In parting, Nguyen said that he had heard something about therapy dogs.


Alex Hartung, vice-president external for the RRC Students’ Association, confirmed that there would be therapy dogs in the atrium of RRC’s Exchange campus on Thursday, April 26.

Alex Hartung, vice-president external for the RRCSA, says therapy dogs and the Red River ReliefLine are available to combat exam stress. / RICK CLEMENT

Hartung said the Red River ReliefLine is one of the RRCSA’s largest contributions towards combatting stress.


The ReliefLine, a partnership between the RRCSA and RRC, is an anonymous text-based service that connects RRC students with peer support.


Students who feel the need to reach out, or volunteer, should visit: