Behind the Scenes: Life as an RA

Ashlyn Doudna

Before spring break, Resident Assistant confirmation and denial letters were sent out and have confirmed who will be next year’s Resident Assistants. All residents of Malone are sure to know a friendly face down the hall who gives them toilet paper and hosts fun events in the lounge, but how did they became an RA and what is being an RA like behind the scenes? The first step of the RA process is filling out an online application. The applicants then, obtain references from their RA, a professor, and a spiritual mentor. All of whom should have a good idea of the applicant’s personality, character, and integrity. These references will be answering questions about them, looking at specific qualities they have, as well as, giving their opinion on why they would or would not make a good RA. Then, they have “Group Process,” where they are tested on how they interact with others, where they stand when it comes to rules and regulations, how they work with others, and their problem-solving skills (such as budgeting for social events). “Be yourself and answer in the way that you think you would act,” said Erienne Ballard, freshman nursing major that went through the application process. “Working as a team in the group sessions really helps you to get a perspective of what being an RA would be like.” The applicants are observed and questioned by graduating RA’s who by now, know what it takes to be an RA. They join together to rank the students on how well they exhibit the qualities that are needed to fit the job. After the group process, the applicant will set up an interview time where he or she will be will be conversing with and questioned by a few Resident Directors (RD). The RDs have a great understanding of what it take to do well at this job and the dynamics that are needed in the building. When in search for the best candidates for the job, Julia Newton (RD of Heritage Hall) looks for, among many other things, “someone who is trustworthy, responsible, kind, and someone who is willing to get out of their comfort zone.” The RDs are looking at how involved the applicant is within their community, if they are teachable, and if they have a good vision of what resident life is. “The beautiful thing about the RA position is that so many different personalities work as RA’s,” said Newton. “Everyone brings something so different to the table.” After the decision of who gets the job is final, letters are sent out. The soon-to-be RA’s will, then, in the Spring, undergo training. Training will start March 31st, and there will be more training sessions before the school year begins and after winter break. In this time period, the RDs and Deans of Student Life will decide what Hall will best suit each RA. For the students who did not get accepted this year, do not fret. “One misconception is that if you don’t get hired, its because you are a bad person or not good enough,” said Newton. “We have way more applicants than positions every single year, and so we have to say no to really quality people.” The RA job is a lot more than enforcing rules and making sure everyone has toilet paper, but instead, a major responsibility and time commitment. “The main part of our job is caring about people, reaching out to them, creating events, creating a community that people want to be apart of, and making people feel loved and accepted,” said Annie Kadlecek, sophomore social work major and RA of Heritage Hall. Christian Stark, Freshman Communications Major, will begin next fall as an RA. “RAs have a really good opportunity to help their community grow in faith and grow academically,” said Stark. He is looking forward to growing in his own faith in this job and building community with the people around him. “When we look for people to be a good RA, we look for people who are intent in growing,” said Newton. Newton looks for people who know where they are weak and sees this job and college life, in general, as an opportunity for growth. “You have to be really passionate for people because you are the advocate for your floor,” said Justin Pavlik, junior nursing major, RA of DeVol Hall. “For me, being an RA developed the ability to see where people are coming from and appreciate that background.” Being an RA has obviously impacted the ones who have held this title, and it also impacts so many of the people they interact with. It is a job that requires relationship with lots of different, unique personalities, and a heart that is willing to step into their story. Next time you see your RA, make sure you let them know how much you appreciate the work they do behind the scenes, and if you decide to apply next year, make sure to take this advice into account!

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