Staff Editorial: Becoming an RA

ALENA HANSON Features & Opinions Editor

Last spring, I went through an application process to become a residential assistant for Piedmont. Fortunately, the job became mine. Included in the beloved email telling me that I had gotten one of the empty slots was the residential hall that I would work in. Getman-Babcock became my home again. I was selected to move back into the dorm of my own freshman year.

Now, what does being an RA entail? Well, at RA Training, the week before the residents moved in, I learned what all my job included. I learned it was much more than sitting in a lobby and watching students go by. It was much more than walking down hallways and writing duty logs. No, being an RA goes deeper than that. You have to become a person that your residents can confide in, talk with and still be the authority figure they need. You have to keep your eyes and ears open to help keep your residential hall safe. You have to have duty, so that your teammates and you can get a break, but still have someone there for your residents. It goes beyond just going by a written description- it is something that you get better with over time.

As for the week of RA training, what can I say? It was phenomenal, even though we had to be up and ready by 8 a.m. There was training for every general situation that we could come across. There were open discussions and a sense of safety amongst the other RAs. There were tears, laughter, sweat and a feeling of being part of a family. No one was left out or treated with disdain. Even during the harder, more emotional parts of the training, there was no need to fear shame or disgust. I learned about how to handle problems that could arise and what my strengths are. It was an eye-opening experience that I will always remember. It was a good week of knowledge and bonding. It made me grow as a person and as a new RA.

Now, let me take a minute to tell how wonderful it feels to be a part of something so important. I feel needed and wise. It is like nothing you can experience, unless you become an RA. There’s something so nice about being a member of the residential living staff. To me, there is no doubt in my mind that I have experience to gain and improvements to be made, but I am going to try my best because I know I have a great staff to support me.

So, this is a thank you to Mark Jestel and all the residential living staff. You guys are wonderful, and I could not ask for better for my first year as an RA.