Staff Member at Wellesley’s Leaky Beaker Café Makes News for Serving Up Encouragement and Kindness

April 12, 2016
Ashraf Youssef serves a customer at the Leaky Beaker Cafe

The snacks and sandwiches served at the Leaky Beaker café in the Science Center come with a smile and a side of encouragement. Students appreciate the friendliness and kind words they receive from Café Manager Ashraf Youssef, known to most students as "the Leaky Beaker man" or simply Ashraf. Recently, they surprised him with some kind words of their own.

"In the span of a few moments, he encourages you to do your best and to feel good about your achievements...," said Rosanne Hu '19. "He has made my day so much better so many times." Linnea Fischer '19 shared, "He is always in good spirits, always nice, and always cheers you up," and Angela Kim '18, a psychology major who works part-time at the Leaky Beaker, noted, "He really kind of looks out for everyone."

For Ashraf, who worked in Pomeroy, Bates, Stone-Davis, and the Collins Café before coming to the Leaky Beaker last year, encouraging students is a joy. "We are all a family here, and everybody likes to hear a good word," he said. "My job is to be sensitive and encourage people. I tell the students, ‘Consider this your second home.'"

Ashraf understands the rigors of college, he said, because he earned a bachelor's degree in his native Egypt. The father of two, he encourages his customers to take care of themselves. "If someone looks worried at exam time, I tell her, 'You have the ability and intelligence to do well. Let go of the fear and trust yourself.'"

Liah Watt '19, was doing homework near the Leaky Beaker a few weeks ago and heard Ashraf talking to several customers. The exchanges brightened her mood so much that she went on Yik Yak, a social media smartphone app, and wrote, "Watching the Leaky Beaker man interact with students makes me so happy. He's so kind, caring, and positive."

Dozens of other Wellesley students agreed and added comments of their own, making Watt's post the most popular Yak of the week. The thread drew attention from Good News Network, which posted a story of its own.

Another student gave Ashraf a copy of the screenshot, which was signed, "Thank you for being such a kind and supportive part of our community. With Love, The Wellesley College Classes of 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019."

Ashraf, deeply pleased with the gift, keeps the paper in his wallet. "I work among the angels," he said. "I just love the students."