New student living director begins tenure

The student living office welcomes new freshmen students to Gannon University every year, but this year it welcomes a new director as well.

Denise Bakerink now serves as the student living director, creating a sense of community for Gannon students living on campus.

Bakerink manages Gannon’s residences, such as the dorms and apartments, and makes sure that the buildings are well-maintained and the custodial work is up to par.

“We do our best to maintain the residence halls and offer the best possible conditions with limited resources,” Bakerink said.

No major changes will be seen this year in student living, as Bakerink plans on taking this year to understand the university and form a good foundation for upcoming years. She wants to make overall improvements where they are necessary and make living conditions the best.

Twenty-two resident assistants aid Bakerink in managing the halls smoothly and efficiently. RAs are leaders and role models on campus and help new students transition to college life.  They also uphold university policies in order to ensure safety on campus.

Stephanie Lutz, a second-year senior RA at Finegan 4 East,  expressed praise for Bakerink.

“Denise is a great addition to the Office of Student Living,” Lutz said. “I really enjoy her enthusiasm with resident life at Gannon.

“She strives to provide community on campus and wishes to provide new students with the same welcome she received, being a new face on campus.”

Bakerink was a resident assistant herself at Houghton College, where she received her bachelor’s degrees in psychology and business administration.

It was as a resident assistant that she discovered her passion for student living.

She then pursued a career accordingly after earning her master’s degree in student personnel administration from Buffalo State College.

Resident assistants hold “one of the best jobs on campus,” Bakerink said.

She urges students who might be looking for an on-campus job to give the position a try.  After all, it is how she discovered her career.

“Who knows, it could be a life-changing opportunity,” she said.

Bakerink’s experience as a student living director is not limited to Gannon, as she has worked as a residence coordinator for both Houghton College in Houghton, N.Y., and Taylor University in Upland, Ind., for 10 and 11 years, respectively.

Gannon’s faith-based foundation attracted Bakerink to the campus.

“I read the mission statement for Gannon University and felt like it was a place that I could commit to,” she said.

Freshmen resident students who are new to the Erie area are not alone.

Bakerink is from Clymer, N.Y., in Chautauqua County, and is herself discovering what exactly there is to do in Erie.

As far as campus life goes, Bakerink urges new students – and returning students alike – to take advantage of all of the programs Gannon has to offer.  Resident assistants are in charge of monthly activities for students and a wide range of extracurricular activities that are offered.

“If you are struggling or just aren’t sure how or where to get involved,” Bakerink said, “there are a lot of people around who are willing to help and point you in the right direction.”



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