May 26, 2024

Michael and Sellam: Stress Test

During exam week, frazzled test-takers turn to the University Center’s bi-annual Stress-Free Zone, hosted by the Office of Student Activities and Engagement. The three-day event, which runs Monday, Dec. 11, through Wednesday, Dec. 13, from noon to 3 p.m., is filled with ways to unwind.

Graduate assistants Sellam Birhane ’17, who’s studying business, and Michael Middleton ’16, who’s pursuing a master’s degree in education, are charged with organizing the zone. They’ve hauled in stacks of snacks, set up oversized games and filled rooms with balloons. They’ve lined up complimentary massages and brought in therapy dogs for all the fun – and furry – relief exam-weary students can handle.

Q: Why do you feel Stress-Free Zone is important to students?

S: College is stress! I hope Stress-Free Zone helps students understand that even when you have a huge deadline coming up or a project due, you still need some balance in your life.
M: Self-care is often overlooked in our go-go-go society. Stress-Free Zone is centered around this idea.

Q: What part of Stress-Free Zone are you most looking forward to?

S: Bringing in the dogs; they seem to instantly make everyone’s day so much brighter.
M: I always love when the therapy dogs come around.

Q: Is it stressful to organize Stress-Free Zone?

S: Not really. We want to make sure everyone enjoys the event … but the students come a few at a time to get a massage, pet a dog or grab a snack. It’s a trickle of people, not a flood!
M: It can be challenging due to the many moving parts, but the benefit to students outweighs these challenges.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

S: Working with students, doing my best to be a resource for them, and watching their vision or plan for an event come to life.
M: Working with students and seeing them grow and develop!

Q: What motto do you live by?

S: I always try to start my day on a positive note and do the best I can in everything I do.
M: “Progress Daily”

Q: What would you tell students thinking about skipping Stress-Free Zone this year?

S: It doesn’t hurt to come by! You only have to stick around for as long as you want.
M: Best of luck with your finals and the end of the semester! If you need a place to relax and unwind, we’ll be here for you.