Lauren Hoffman
JRNM 151

While the stress of being back on campus and almost a month into classes is weighing down the spirits of some peers, one student is not letting college blues get to him. Freshman and sociology major Landen Maderia has taken to the courtyard with a hula hoop in an attempt to bring smiles to passing students.
“I just like to bring smiles to people’s faces,” Maderia said, noting he is starting to feel the weight of responsibility being a college student. “I know others are feeling it too and I don’t like that. I don’t like to see people upset.”
The hula hoop isn’t the only tool he’s using to bring joy. A long-time jokester, Maderia can recall multiple times throughout grade school at Amherst’s Nord Middle School, of his class clown stunts and personable personality bringing smiles to people’s faces. 
“I guess I just have that way about me, I don’t know, I can just point at someone and say ‘hey you! Smile’ and they will.”
 Recently, Maderia spent his free time in the courtyard with the hula hoop throwing it to others and asking them to join in on the fun. LCCC student Alyssa Szabo said of the encounter: “My initial reaction was what is he doing and why is he doing it, but I thought it was fun and reminded me of high school gym when we used to play with hula hoops.” Szabo continued by bringing up mental health across campus and said it’s “definitely beneficial because a lot of people our age struggle with mental illness” and thought that “if he can make a person smile for even just a second it can make someone’s day.”
In between studying for classes, and cramming for tests, on top of his full-time job, Maderiasaid he’s glad to be able to “remind others to take it slow and smile.” He plans to continue to do so “as long as it makes others happy.”
 As Szabo put it, “After all, it is something different to do than just sit and do nothing in your free time.”