With the deadline for RA applications approaching, I thought it would be interesting to gain some perspective from current RAs!

Grace Street Apartments RA:

Abigail Clark

raabsWhat made you want to be an RA?

I knew I wanted to live on-campus in an upperclassmen dorm. I thought that being in an upperclassmen would help me connect with people my age. We could stress about declaring majors at the same time and be able to relate to one another….[I chose an upperclassmen dorm] so I can branch out and meet an entirely new set of people.

What do you like most about being an RA?

I like learning time management and leadership skills as an RA. I love when residents come to me for help. Being an RA also helps me better understand and know about various resources on campus.

What’s the most challenging part of being an RA?

Being an RA can be stressful. It’s a challenge to balance certain requirements with programs, interviews, scheduling conferences, staff and hall director meetings, extracurriculars, and it can sometimes be overwhelming.

Is it rewarding?

Yes, it is rewarding. Just because I am able to see how much I can actually balance. It’s really helped me with self-doubt. I’ve found that I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for. I have more responsibilities now, and I’m more aware of my actions, especially since I have 45 residents to watch and set a good example for.

Do you have any advice for future RAs?

Coming into the position, the training really helps. It’s great bonding with the other RAs and the hall director. Now, I know I can go to them about anything, and that’s a good support system to have. If you’re worried that you’re not causing any change, don’t worry because you’re definitely helping. Be confident in your decision making and don’t let your doubt get in the way.

Chesapeake Hall RA: Ebony Williams

raebsWhat made you decide to apply to be an RA?

My RA during my freshmen year definitely impacted my decision to apply because I felt she was a really good RA. She did her job and followed the rules and people respected her for it. I knew that I wanted to do what she did for me. I wanted to build a community and be a person my residents could talk to.

What do you like most about being an RA?

I like being able to interact with my residents and getting to know them. It’s a nice break from my studies and it’s just nice to meet new people. Building that relationship with residents is my favorite part.

What’s the most challenging part of being an RA?

I would say the most challenging part is dealing with incidents and being consistent in how you handle them. It’s a different judgment call every time. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re walking into, but it’s important to act quickly and in an efficient way.

Is it rewarding?

Yes, it’s rewarding. It’s rewarding in the relationships, in knowing that you can plan programs and see them through, and in getting paid. It’s rewarding in all the skills that you learn, it helps you manage time, it sharpens your confrontation skills, and makes you more prepared for everyday life after college.

Do you have any advice for future RAs?

The job is what you make it, and your attitude definitely changes your perspective. Positivity is key. Maintain relationships with your residents. Go in with an open mind, and don’t be discouraged if something bad happens. Don’t take things personally. Know that you’re always supported in this role, by your other RAs and hall directors.

Weaver Hall RA: Alex Gellios

ralexWhat made you decide to apply to be an RA?

I had roommate issues off-campus, and I knew I wanted to be an RA my junior year, but it just worked out that I did it my sophomore year. I also had friends that were RAs and they enjoyed the experience.

What do you like most about being an RA?

My residents. They’re full of ideas and take initiative of what’s in front of them. It’s fun watching them explore and grow. They’re also very creative. They can be troublemakers but they know the rules.

What’s the most challenging part of being an RA?

Time management. You have to keep up with small things. You have to look out for your residents. You get to know them and their problems and then help them resolve their problems. But you also have to keep up with them. Sometimes they struggle to remember that you’re a person [with classes and extracurriculars], too. It can be a challenge to get through to them; they don’t always listen. But they’re also people, not just residents to look after.

Is it rewarding?

Yeah, it definitely is. Thinking back to how I got good feedback from my residents and hall director, it’s a good feeling. Someone said, “he’s been really helpful.” And that’s good validation that I’m doing my job well.

Do you have any advice for future RAs?

A lot of advice that I have is situational. But try to understand and commit. Go ahead and apply, even if you’re not sure. It’s important to keep in mind that they are freshmen, so get to know them and teach them [about JMU]. If you’re looking at the bigger picture, look at yourself as a person, not just RA. It is a lifestyle, but you’re not an RA all the time.

I want to thank these three fantastic RAs for their time and input! I really enjoyed hearing why they love their job. You can hear from more students on the RA experience here, or if you have any questions about applications, you can visit the ORL website.

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