Selamawit Abebe, Food Service Supervisor at Footnotes Cafe UMD, College Park

Selamawit Abebe, Food Service Supervisor at Footnotes Cafe UMD, College Park

“Whatever the response is, all the time smile, and say thank you, and greet people. In my experience, the most difficult people become my best friends. I have customers coming, and you know sometimes they don’t get happy easily...when you say 'Good Morning', they don’t respond...maybe that is not his day or her day. You have to try. We are human, and we have to give them more chances. I had a customer who was complaining about the drink and she was so disappointed and she yelled at the other employee. Even after she left I came to talk to her. I said 'What is the problem? I think we can fix it.' Sometimes you don’t get along for some reason...When she left, she said 'I’m not coming back to this store again.' I don’t want to see that--I want her to come back. It’s not just for the business, but it is love. I don’t want anyone to leave disappointed. I talked to her first…[and] she was open to talk to me. Since then she was my best friend.”

Do you have any last comments?

“My mom is not an educated person, but she knows a lot of things...more than an educated person. So, my advice is, it doesn’t matter what label a person is, but you can get a lot of good skill, knowledge, which is acquired through experience or life...You cannot get that in school. I want everybody to give attention to people in whatever label they are. That is the basic thing I learned from my mom. All the time she is telling us 'Never fight with people'. If you don’t say anything, the fight stops. It takes two in a way, to fight. And all the time, think positive. If somebody greets you, and you are a negative person, you will take that greeting negatively...This is what she planted in her kids... Make it positive. You don’t fight with people, you don’t ignore people, you respect people...It is good for you too...Not only for the other person...I’m a very happy and peaceful person...That is why I say you can get a lot of things which you cannot get from a school, from class, but from other people...they have at least one valuable thing you can take.”

We would like to thank Selamawit Abebe for being our FIRST Unsung Hero of UMD. She has worked on this campus for a whooping 21 years, and she holds a deep love and appreciation for all the students she encounters. She also runs a business with her husband!

Follow Unsung Heroes of UMD College Park to learn more about the heroes who keep UMD College Park's campus running behind-the-scenes!!

University of Maryland, College Park