Becca Smith’s experience as a resident assistant has been eye-opening — from the enforcement aspect of her responsibilities and the lifesaving decisions she has had to make to the self-knowledge she has gained and the gratification she has gotten from community building.
Coming into Resident Assistant (RA) training for the fall, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I had thought about being an RA as early as my sophomore year of high school, but I originally looked at it solely as a job for room-and-board compensation to help with my education expenses. However, after weeks of training, the position has become so much more to me.
I arrived on campus in late August and RA training began soon after. The subsequent 10 days of training were long, challenging, exciting, stressful, overwhelming and eye-opening all at the same time. I went to bed (fairly late) every night with completely different emotions from the night before, but each time I realized I had learned so much more about the position and about myself than I had known the previous day. I began to see the role as having many different sides to it: a teamwork aspect, an enforcement aspect, a communal aspect and a personal discovery aspect.
Working with my staff members has given me confidence about the upcoming year because I know that I can rely on them for support during tasks. I never thought that I could form such a tight-knit new circle of friends before my academic year had even started.
During training, the enforcement aspect was definitely the most challenging part of the job. There were countless policies to remember and thought-provoking, real-life scenarios that opened my eyes to certain situations I could be experiencing regularly.
The communal aspect has been the most entertaining for me so far — whether it was meeting and socializing with my residents, creating bulletin boards and door decorations for my wing or brainstorming upcoming programs with my staff. I become more and more enthusiastic about being the instrument to facilitate community on my floor. It’s only been a few days since freshmen have moved in, yet it already seems like everyone is mingling and getting to know each other.
Lastly, I have unexpectedly realized how much personal discovery the RA role has offered to me. Having to use my strengths and realizing my weaknesses while in group activities, being thrust into uncomfortable scenarios to make quick, lifesaving decisions and balancing time to complete assignments and attend information sessions has definitely provided me with quite a bit of self-examination. I really enjoyed getting to notice certain personality traits about myself before my classes and other extracurricular activities began, so that I could better use those qualities during the year.
Being an RA has been quite the roller coaster of feelings and experiences, but I have grown and learned more than I could have imagined. I have met some of the most amazing people and participated in some fantastic dances/raps/talent shows/ice breakers, and I certainly wouldn’t exchange the past 18 days of training for anything.