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GCU Wellness Fest Celebrates Alternate Paths to Feeling Great

Lakewood, N.J., Apr. 20, 2010—When Georgian Court University senior Mary Kate Costa signed up for Alternative Healing Methods, she thought the elective taught by Gabrielle Pelicci, Ph.D., might simply be a fun class, something to round out her last semester at GCU.

The 21-year-old English major, who says she tends to stress out about everything from class assignments to career prospects, was wrong. Students in the upper level course—inspired by what they’ve learned about Reiki, raw food diets, acupuncture, massage therapy, and other subjects—are the driving force behind Wellness Fest 2010: 4 Days of Food, Love, Peace, and Soul.

The celebration, which is free and open to the public, is slated for 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. on four consecutive Wednesdays (April 21, April 28, May 5, and May 12) in the Wellness Garden on GCU’s historic Lakewood campus. The Wellness Garden, created in 2009 by students and faculty advisors, includes herbs and medicinal plants, and provides the perfect backdrop for the outreach event sponsored by the GCU Department of Holistic Health. The festival, while intended to raise awareness of nontraditional approaches to wellness, is also a service learning project for students enrolled in Alternative Healing Methods.

“I am so happy that I took this course because it changed my outlook on so many things,” says Mary Kate, an aspiring actress. “A lot of people rely on Western medicine for a quick fix, but often they don’t work and they leave us frustrated—sometimes sicker than we were in the first place. These alternative methods don’t involve medicine, they’re totally free, and they work.”

“It's important for the GCU community and for the public to learn about these programs so that we can improve the health and well-being of everyone,” says Dr. Pelicci, who has also taught at the California Institute of Integral Studies, UCLA, and National University and is a yoga and massage therapy practitioner.

“I am very passionate about holistic health, and I try to instill that passion in others through my teaching and private practice,” says Dr. Pelicci, who has traveled to Asia, Africa, India, Mexico, South America, and Europe to study cultural approaches to healing. “I can't emphasize enough how much holistic health can improve the quality of your life—it will totally change your life for the better.”

Mary Kate credits the class with introducing her to the power of positive thought and new ways to balance daily demands. “I’ve always been a stressful person who tends to think things through 1,000 times over and over in my head, but what I’ve learned really helps.”

That’s the aim of students staging the four-part program that will address topics including everyday relationships with food and better ways to achieve balance; Thai massage and the power of keeping a journal; yoga, qigong, and jujitsu and their relationship to stress reduction and exercise; and the healing powers of Reiki, crystals, and gems.

Detailed information about the program themes and activities are on Facebook (search event listing Wellness Fest 2010) where GCU students and others are continuing the conversation about alternative healing methods and accepting RSVPs. Reservations should be placed at least two days prior to each session by sending e-mail to For additional information, contact Dr. Pelicci at

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves over 3,000 students of all faiths and backgrounds in a residential Women's College and a coeducational University College with undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court's main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, now named a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at its site at One Woodbridge Center in Woodbridge, at Coastal Communiversity in Wall, and at Cumberland County College in Vineland.

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