The morning fog begins to dissipate, but the students are still lethargic as they cross the intersection of Figueroa Street and Boulevard des Expositions. Across the street, a woman in an electric yellow vest is swinging up and down. Her arm swings as she brings in the sleeping crowd.
Above the roar of traffic, his voice continues, an affirmation to every student. She enthusiastically points to a young man in a hoodie: “Share your beautiful smile today. “To a young woman in a pantsuit, she exclaims:” Share your kindness! The students wave back and some slip off their masks to return a smile.
Sherrie Coleman stands around the corner of Figueroa Street every morning of the week to greet students on campus, dressed in a waistcoat, sunglasses and an orange beaked hat. Despite the layers, it hardly hides her smile, because she greets everyone who passes by.
Coleman worked as a sergeant for the City of Los Angeles for over 15 years. What first attracted her to this position was the love of children and the desire to protect them. She tries to offer a positive impact on those she meets through her work and her affirmations.
“Not everyone is happy in this world, and they need a hello and someone to say how beautiful they are,” Coleman said.
She is guided by spirituality and feels that each person she welcomes needs a specific message. She thinks it’s important for people to hear.
“I love everyone and I treat them the way I want to be treated,” Coleman said.
No one can get past Coleman without an affirmation; even on days when she’s preoccupied with another task, she stops what she’s doing to make sure everyone is welcomed.
In the middle of a conversation, she apologizes for not missing a single person crossing the street, and has even taken care to remember the names of those she sees frequently, mostly USC students. .
She thinks that students especially need to hear positive affirmations.
“Everyone needs to be encouraged, especially when they have tests, and I let them know they can do it. They can pass this test, ”Coleman said.
Some research supports the role of positive affirmations in mental health.
“Receiving an affirmation from someone else can help remind or prompt those it talks to to assert themselves,” said Veronica Fruiht, associate professor of psychology at the Dominican University of California.
A variety of research has been done on assertiveness, which often involves a person reflecting on something positive about themselves, either out loud or in written form.
“Often times, we can get caught up in a negative thought pattern that can lead to self-restraint, and we don’t expect much of ourselves,” Fruiht said. “Research shows that assertiveness can be particularly beneficial in trying to convince ourselves that we are capable of doing things we never thought we could.”
Latioa Brady, a Trojan Check employee at USC, says Coleman’s positive outlook on life inspires her.
“It lets me know I’m going in the right direction every day,” Brady said of Coleman’s claims.
Brady said it incites his own positivity and makes him enthusiastically greet others. She remembers his words when she spends her day at work.
“You never know what makes someone have a good day,” Brady said.
Research shows that social support can be a great buffer against stress and have a positive impact on mental health.
“Even something simple like making someone smile or laugh can be considered a form of social support,” said Johnna Swartz, associate professor of human development at the University of California at Davis.
Fruiht researched what drives students to stay in school and found community to be an important factor.
“Students who report feeling supported and who feel part of a community are generally more likely to persist,” said Fruiht.
Coleman tried to create a sense of community in his own way. She described how, before the pandemic, she knew everyone’s names. With a new crowd, she is always getting to know the new wave of students and workers and remains optimistic about bonding.
Long blonde hair comes out of Coleman’s ponytail as she enthusiastically shakes her head. It must be the 100th time this morning that she has said “hello”, but she has not broken her singing cadence.
“No matter who you are, everyone needs a ‘hello’, needs a ‘hello’, and needs someone to say how beautiful they are,” she said. declared.