Cozy Thursdays, a judgement-free zone

By Iris RedondoPonce
November 24, 2023

Students enjoy a game of Scrabble. Photo by Iris Redondo Ponce.
Students enjoy a game of Scrabble. Photo by Iris Redondo Ponce.

The closer the weekend is, the fewer students are seen on Cabrini’s campus. However, the Wolfington Center attracts a small crowd every Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Cozy Thursdays are a time when everyone on campus is welcome to hang out, enjoy tasty food, and have meaningful conversation with their peers.

Why Cozy Thursdays?

Sheila Nalwoga, the Next Steps AmeriCorps team leader, hosts the event. An AmeriCorps team leader assists students enrolled in the AmeriCorps program and recruits Next Steps mentors and mentees. Last year, the Wolfington Center hosted Cozy Fridays, but attendance was low due to being so close to the weekend.

This year, however, Nalwoga offered to take over and move to Thursdays in hopes of “engaging with students,” she said.  “It’s a chance for people around campus to get together, sit down, talk about life, and enjoy some free food,” Nalwoga added. On top of being a safe space used to make friends, gain support, and eat, the time is also used to tell people about the resources or services offered there.

What happens on Cozy Thursdays?

For most students, Cozy Thursdays serves as a time to unwind. They also have conversations about various topics. Nalwoga said the group talks about “faith, things that people feel are happening in school, where they need support.” She added that though she has tried to establish a theme every week, they end up going off topic, which helps form community.

“One time, it was random, but we talked about names and how our names came about. It was just a random conversation that started but then I learned how you can learn so much from why someone was named something.” Nalwoga said.

Some of the board games offered to students at Cozy Thursdays. Photo by Iris Redondo Ponce.

Cozy Thursdays are planned and structured but when the event unfolds, it also allows space for students to make connections and unwind. Amber Hill, a freshman majoring in biology said, “It’s a place where I can reconnect with people that I don’t see often, to settle down and vent. It is a non-judgement zone.” Hill mentions that hearing other people’s experiences is beneficial, “like learning from them as well, learning how to go through life through them.”

Other than conversation, Cozy Thursdays offers games and food. The food is made by freshman Nyla Wildman, a double major in psychology and criminology. “She just comes in and cooks whatever is on her heart,” Nalwoga said. “It’s good food from a good cook.” The meals cooked so far have been chili, chicken alfredo, and grilled cheese. Nalwoga said that the food is different every week.

Benefits of Cozy Thursdays

College can be isolating at times and making friends can be hard. “Certain people have mentioned that this is the only thing that they look forward to during the week. It is a safe space where they can talk about what’s on their minds, what they think about without being judged or being cast out,” Nalwoga said.

Students can bond over games and other activities. Photo by Iris Redondo Ponce.

At Cozy Thursdays, every student who attends can share their thoughts. Hill said, “We have had more people come each week. Because people feel so comfortable, they want to be around that environment more.” She added, “People are more open to coming out and doing things since they’re making friends and meeting people.”

As for Nalwoga’s Cozy Thursday goals, she said, “I just want students to look back and be like, ‘oh, this was a great time. That was something I enjoyed.’ And maybe wherever they end up going, they’ll create spaces like this for other people or for themselves and just enjoy each other’s company.”

Ultimately, she said, “It doesn’t matter how small or big a group is. Sometimes you have a little bit of community, and it can go a long way in supporting you.”

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Iris RedondoPonce

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