Over my past two years as an RA, I’ve gotten to work in two very different residence halls and develop relationships with tons of interesting students.
I was drawn to the position because I wanted to be a friendly face and listening ear, someone who could help others feel at home and make the most of their time at Gannon.
I’ve done this to the best of my ability, and I love the relationships I’ve formed with residents.
An unexpected benefit of being an RA has been the family I’ve found in residence life.
While RAs are on the front-end supporting students, we have an awesome group of professional staff members who support us.
Our supervisors are mentors, cheerleaders, confidantes and personal growth coaches.
They encourage us to be the best versions of ourselves so that we can show up fully for our residents.
In addition to the pro staff, I’ve been fortunate to work with seven of the most genuine and kindhearted RAs this year.
Between working together (doing 2 a.m. rounds, opening and closing the residence halls, putting on programs) and playing together (fun outings, deep talks and some raucous game nights), we’ve become incredibly close.
The eight of us span four buildings, but we come together weekly for staff meetings.
Far from the “why-am-I-here, this-could’ve-been-an-e-mail” variety, these are meetings I genuinely look forward to – they’re a chance to spend time with some of the best people I know.
This year, I’ve gotten to see members of our staff shine onstage, coordinate campus-wide programming and compete in national athletic events.
They occupy their various leadership positions with a blend of confidence and modesty, and serve as seven models of how to live out resiliency, positivity, empathy, humor and hard work.
In addition to modeling their own qualities, my co-RAs have helped me recognize and lean into the strengths I bring to the team.
I’ve worked to embrace kindness, responsibility, approachability and my quiet leadership style.
At one of our staff meetings this semester, our supervisor gave each of us a string laden with clothespins and marked with our name.
We passed our strings around in a circle and wrote a short message for each staff member on one of their clothespins.
By the time we got our own string back, our clothespins were filled with inside jokes, admirable qualities and words of encouragement.
In May, we’ll have tons of pictures from our adventures – both inside and outside our residence halls – that we can clip on our strings to relive memories from the year.
It will be the perfect way to keep little pieces of these special people with me after graduation.
As RA offers come out on Monday, remember that a “no” is an opportunity to delve deeper into other areas of campus life, and a “not yet” doesn’t necessarily mean “not ever.”
And if the answer is “yes,” welcome to the family – you’re going to put a lot of yourself into this position, but I promise that you’re going to get so much out of it.