(BRB…taking a break from food)
I had a resident…
who battled with the insidious nature of depression and anxiety
I had a resident who thought it was her way or no way
I had a resident who valiantly fought her way out of an abusive relationship
I had a resident who doesn’t think she’s beautiful (and she is)
I had a resident who lost not one but both of her parents
I had a resident who donated blood 11 times in the last 4 years because she wanted to
I had a resident who was dealing with severe homesickness
I had a resident who struggled with her identity so much that she cut herself
I had a resident who was sexually assaulted and got justice
I had a resident who beat cancer
I had a resident who was so confident with herself that I envied her
I had a resident who was engaged to the love of her life
I had a resident who knocked on my door at 3am just because she needed to talk
And I fell in love with every single one of them.
I was a resident assistant for two years, both in freshmen female residence halls. Maybe you won’t ever fully understand how much I loved being an RA unless you were/are one or maybe I fell more in love with my job than I should have. But in all fairness, they didn’t tell us. They didn’t tell us it was going to be like having 100+ kids to protect, to care and to love. They didn’t tell us all the opportunities this job would give us. And they most certainly didn’t tell us that we would be gaining a family.
Campbell is a small school in a small town so I knew every single one of my residents both years, some to the core. And some of them had stories that are bigger than you and me.
From staying up till 2AM to watch the lunar eclipse to being a crying shoulder to supporting their SGA campaigns to squealing over excitement when they got their sorority bid to randomly breaking out in our happy dance in the hallways to sharing their joy when they learned their parents were coming home from Afghanistan to discovering weird quirks about each other to singing happy birthday at the top of our lungs at 12AM to cheering them on at their athletic events to keeping each other’s sanity during finals week to running into their arms in the middle of campus to celebrating their well-earned A on their econ final to always only being six feet away from a hug, I have met some of the kindest, bravest, confident, ambitious and beautiful people.
People often have the wrong idea of what the role of Resident Assistant consist of. It is not always being on the lookout for alcohol or drugs or making sure everyone abides by quiet hours. Yes, that’s part of the job but RAs are not meant to be your enemies. They are meant to help you, to encourage you, to be there for you and to remind you that you are doing just fine. But I would be lying if I said my residents haven’t done the same for me. They’ve supported me, they’ve challenged me, they’ve inspired me, they’ve turned the hard times into good times and they’ve made me laugh. I wish I could sum up everything I have learned from them in the last two years because I learned more from 18 year olds than I ever thought deemed possible.
Yes, I was a 21-year-old junior living with college freshmen
and I loved every minute of it.
Despite the duty weekends, the duty nights, the supplementals and incidentals, the housekeeping, the weekly staff meetings, the monthly dorm programs, the maintenance requests, the roommate mediations, the “I locked myself out, can you let me in?” texts, those bulletin boards, the check-out procedures and all the paperwork, it has been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.
Because I lived for those moments when someone slid a note under my door at the end of my first year as an RA that said,
“Thank you for being there for me when I really needed someone.”
Those are the moments I live for.
I want to give a special thank you to Jodie, Tyler, Andrew, Marvin and Thomas of CU Residence Life for hiring me, mentoring me and encouraging me every step of the way. It’s been absolutely wonderful. Thank you. To my co-workers, Olivia, Brittany, Sheena and Sara from Strickland Hall and Kendra, Caroline and Diane from Small Hall, thank you for all the memories and everything in between.
And to all the future RAs out there especially those who are working in freshmen residence halls, they are going to annoy you and they are going to make you want to pull your hair out at times but they are also going to make you laugh till your stomach hurts and teach you things you won’t find in your textbooks and maybe they’ll inspire you, I know I was. Embrace their curiosity and share this new adventure with them. One thing, if you love your job as much I did, I promise you, you will fall in love with them.
And lastly, to all my residents, you already know.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.