What do people think of when they hear the words “my RA”, some shudder in disgust their faces turning down as they recall a negative experience, while others smile and lift their heads remembering the positive interactions between them and their resident advisor (RA) their freshman year of college. An excellent resident advisor has a huge impact on a student’s enjoyment of living in the dorms. I hope to allow everyone to be able to have a positive first year experience in college, and especially at Western. Thope to become an RA to ensure that everyone has a positive, valuable, safe time while at college.
Being a Resident Advisor for me is important and interesting because I know multiple people who have had issues with their RA, by either not feeling like they could have a conversation in their own room or by always feeling like the university was always trying to get in trouble for small things that did not hurt anyone. Everyone wants the “cool” or “chill” RA and I believe that you can be calm and still make it a safe environment for everyone involved and let people have their freedom that they wanted while at college.
A Resident Advisor is not just your RA they are someone for you to be able to talk to, they are someone who has the tools and resources to be able to help you succeed, they are someone who wants to make sure you are happy, and above all they can be a friend. I do not want to be an RA just to be able to help others. As an RA there are multiple skills that I can grow such as being able to work with people of multiple ages such as the older third year RA’s and the Resident Directors.
I have experience with people of various ages before but not as many in close age to myself as I was a camp counselor for six years where I learned new things about myself. I am able to emotionally connect with people of all backgrounds and get to know them on a deeper level then just being acquaintances. As an RA I expect to grow these skills and connect with my residents. I also expect to have my own personal growth because I believe that by helping others you grow yourself. Our own personal growth gives us our own perspective on the world and by being a RA I get to help myself and others experience personal growth.
Although we all have our own unique perspective of the world we all go through similar challenges throughout our lifetime. One area that is people are recognizing is the knowledge and understanding of mental illness. Many people of all ages, especially in the college setting are dealing with mental illness. One in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness. More than 25 percent of college students have been diagnosed or treated by a professional for a mental health condition within the past year according to the National Alliance on Mental illness or NAMI.
Resident Advisors double as a resource as well as a friend, someone to talk to about what is going on and why. As an RAT would not be able to actually help people, but I can be that emotional support for anyone who needs it. At home, I have always been a person that people have gravitated to when things are bothering them. I have never completely understood why, but it has been a trait that I have grown to embrace about myself and help other people, as an RA I will be able to help various residents if they ever reach out and make sure that everyone knows of the resources available to them.
One mental illness, especially effecting college freshman is test anxiety. More than 28% of students have high or moderately high test anxiety. Being able to control it more and relax because you know of your resources and your ability to talk to people helps students tremendously. Another issue currently facing many college freshman, although many would not admit to it, is homesickness. For many college is the first time away from home for long periods of time. Homesickness effects people differently, personally I have only had times when I get very homesick.
One weekend that was especially rough was the weekend when my grandfather passed away, although I did not know him very well, I still felt like I needed to be home to support my family. As I have always tried to make myself that support system for those who needed it while still not ignoring those who “were doing fine” because everyone can put on a happy face despite what is going on inside. One way as a resident advisor, I would try and combat homesickness is make my floor and residents a family.
I completely understand that it is not some peoples “thing” but to make sure that everyone knows that they have a support system behind them of people willing to talk and willing to just hang out and have a boisterous time. Being an RA I have so many opportunities in order to help people of all backgrounds because not everything is positive all the time. We all have the opportunity to help each other and with being an RA I can help more and let people know and understand the resources available for them. Backgrounds and where we came from, it makes us all unique.
It is something | have always had a huge interest in, since as early as second grade. Part of the reason may have been I come from a relatively small city (a population of about 20,000) where people tend to think similarly. Maple Valley was not isolated by any means from the cities around it, but people in Western Washington tend to all be lumped together into one group of liberal people who all have similar ideals and values. We do come to realize however that these ideas are not necessarily accurate and that many of us, if not all, I have views and opinions different to that of their neighbor.
One experience that I tend to value and reflect upon is one that I have had this year, just in the past few months to be exact; and that experience is the friendships that I have made. These friendships were formed solely because we all live down the hall from each other and many of us did Viking Launch together in the early fall. We are a diverse group both physically, morally, and based off our backgrounds. Our group contains someone from Wyoming and Colorado and California as well as multiple from Washington. It contains straight people and bisexual people. It contains African Americans, Caucasian, and Native American people.
People who come from more lavish living and those who were on the poorer side. People with large families and small, divorced parents or parents that stayed together. These differences between all of allow us to grow closer together and really bond over our differences and we learn to embrace what makes us unique and we learn about different viewpoints and how others see the world and what they value dear. In some ways I cannot even imagine what some have gone through in their lives and it just leads me to want to comfort and support others and show sympathy to people, because we are all able to do that.
We as a society should not have to worry or feel bad about the fact that others want to help. I have learned to recognize the fact that some sympathy when things go against others livelihood, but not my own is okay. Not only have my friendships that I have gained this year teach me more about myself, but other friendships and support in the past had. I remember this day clearly, just like it was yesterday, I was at Girl Scout camp. A new one, one I had never been to before, it was different than other ones I had been to, it was completely overnight and we slept in open air cabins.
Before going to bed all the girls and our leaders sat around in a circle, asking each other various questions. The one that stuck, that I still remember today was “If you had to throw your most prized position in the fire or die, could you”. This question does not seem deep or very thought provoking at eye level, but when you look at it on the bigger picture and how people had to think. It tore some people apart. It brought back memories of things that belonged to their parents, these parents were no longer in the picture, in some cases their parents had died.
This question brought people to very dark, sad places, where we were able to open up to each other about depression, and various suicide attempts, and how one girl grew up scared in her own house where there would often be drive by shootings and her family would sit and cry together. This night is one that completely changed my life and will stay with me forever. It caused me to reflect upon my life and what it was Thad. I realized that I came from a very privileged background. I was not rich, but I never had to worry about my house being broke into or not having enough money for food, and I could always live in a warm home.
These interactions of being at camp and hearing these stories and from meeting so many new people this year have shaped who I have become, and how I live my life. They have led me to influence how I interact with others. T have learned that although people come from different places and backgrounds, we all go through similar struggles and have our own issues. By hearing these stories and by learning to understand others backgrounds we learn so much about ourselves and can grow as a person.
Having gone through the experiences of meeting a variety of different people and getting to know each other’s past experience we can promote new learning and better environments. As a RA I would want to promote this diversity and inclusion. I like to hope that everyone at Western is inclusive of everyone, no matter their beliefs or personal opinions but not everyone is inclusive. In order to hope build that inclusiveness I will try to promote a large community feel. Currently my Residents Hall does not feel much like a community as there are people who live in Kappa that I have not seen.
I would want to promote at the beginning of the year one big hall activity. This would allow people to meet and get to know who they are living with better and at least see them. We had a similar activity during Viking launch where we met everyone but never did it again with the whole hall and barely with just our floor. In order to create a more accepting group we need to be able to know one another. I barely even know the people down the hall from me just because I never see them.
A willingness to meet each other with the opportunity to do so. Another thing I would want to encourage in order to build cceptance is following “You be you” which is a motto I like to believe in. It means allowing others to be their own full self do not mock or judge people by how they are acting but let them embrace themselves and accept who they are. People often do not show their true self out of fear of being made fun of or not being accepted. However I believe one of the most important things about college is that it allows us to grow and change as human beings, and become our own true selves not who are parents were pressuring us to be. Looking back on college thus far I can smile, I am hopeful, and I am excited.
This is a feeling all students should have and your RA can help fuel those feelings. I want to be an RA to help people and support them, but still have fun with them. Being an RA gives you power. People look to their RA for resources and help in difficult times and I want to be able to give that help. I want to build relationships between myself and residents and residents with each other. I want to use the experiences I have been through to help others and let me understand them. I want to be a leader and a follower, a friend and an advisor, and I want to do this as an RA for the 2017-2018 school year.