By Gabrielle Olano
Michelle Barbato is an average university student, over stressed and busy. One thing that distinguishes her from most students is her ignorant personality making her unapproachable, as described by peers.
However, one random day Barbato walked into her 8 a.m. class with a smile. Surprising everyone, Barbato was bright-eyed and had a joyful tone of voice, she greeted everyone around her and actively participated in class.
“I’ve had a few classes with Michelle over the past two years, this was the first time she’s ever said hi to me, and we’ve had three group projects together,” says a second-year student, Crystal Zhu.
Zhu wasn’t the only one who noticed Barbato’s new positive attitude. Those who didn’t know her before thought she was a new student. Others who have interacted with her in the past were used to the short lifeless reply or silence she’d give them when asked how she was.
Second-year nursing student Michelle Barbota always gets her work done and shows up to class on time. “She’s never tried to make friends in any of her classes, she usually kept her earphones in and looked annoyed when you tried to speak to her”, says Zhu.
Zhu once witnessed Barbato tell another classmate, Miguel Rosario, that she could hear his music through his headphones and wanted him to turn it down. It is unknown how she could hear it when Rosario’s music was reportedly at the lowest volume possible. But on that day, Barbato didn’t say anything to him.
“I didn’t have any assignments to work on. I’m on top of everything. I went to bed early for once. The next morning, I felt so alive,” says Barbato. “I think that’s what I needed, and I’m going to keep at it.”
Prior to Barbato’s sudden change, she was not on good terms with a few of her professors. There was an incident in which she initiated a full-on debate with her professor in the middle of a 300-student lecture hall on a question she had gotten wrong on a test. After realizing her answer was truly incorrect, she proceeded to claim that she meant to choose the right answer all along, then ended the discussion with, “It’s whatever.”
The only thing that changed about Barbato was her sleeping pattern. Barbato says she didn’t know that those around her thought she was cold-hearted, she assumed they could tell she was tired.
“I guess I was grumpy due to the lack of sleep I was getting, which makes sense. Everyone needs sleep. They crave it,” says Barbato. “And it’s such a good feeling giving your body the rest it deserves.”