University students use a baby doll to build bonds with peers

Four roommates kickstart an Instagram page for students to pose with their dorm mascot.

Image courtesy of Alex Brestolli featuring (left to right) Marisa Nielson, Katie Bowman, Brianna Salvensen, and Alex Brestolli.

Alex Brestolli

Image courtesy of Alex Brestolli featuring (left to right) Marisa Nielson, Katie Bowman, Brianna Salvensen, and Alex Brestolli.

Darlene Antoine, Features Editor

What began as an errand trip to Goodwill for tailgating and football game clothes resulted in four freshmen roommates buying a baby doll as a simple joke. However, students Alex Brestolli, Marisa Nielson, Katie Bowman, and Brianna Salvensen found that the toy was a creative way to make connections with other students amid the pandemic.

“When we went [to Goodwill] and we originally [went] to look around, we went into the toy section and found a little baby doll that was one dollar and I bought it as a joke but then it became our room’s mascot,” Brestolli said. 

When asked about how the doll came to be named Carl as well as having its own Instagram page titled @carl_at_fau, the roommates explained that the whole ordeal was spontaneous. 

“So at first, we just had a friend over at the time, and we were like, ‘you should take a picture with [Carl].’ And then we were like, ‘how about every time someone comes in our dorm, they should take a picture with a baby doll,’” Bowman said.

With 46 followers as of Oct. 12, the Instagram page features an array of students posing with the doll in various ways. 

The roommates explained that their initial plans for Carl were meant to be on TikTok, but resulted in a mass text sent over GroupMe for their room floor as well as the Instagram page to invite people over to take pictures with the doll. 

“Basically, we told everyone we saw to come to our room and take a picture with him,” Nielson said. 


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A post shared by carl (@carl_at_fau)

Bowman said that they all have been able to make friendships through their outreach with the doll and hopes it can offer other students the same positive experience. 

“It’s really fun to meet new people that way. We’ve actually met some of our best friends through Carl. We had a few people from down the hall come and knock other people from their floors, people from other buildings. So it’s actually really fun. I mean, I find it funny, so I like it. I hope other people can maybe use this to make new friends,” Bowman said.

When asked about any words of advice for students who are struggling to build connections with others, Bowman explained that every new student is facing similar challenges and they shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to one another. 

“I would just tell everyone to be themselves and just to get out there because everyone is in the same boat. Everyone’s a first-year or at least new to the area and everyone is struggling to make new friends. So you should always just try and get out there because it’s a great way to meet new people and everyone’s always nervous,” Bowman said.

Darlene Antoine is the Features Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email her at [email protected]