Resident Assistants building communities
Isaac Lapides and Shelley Oliveira Barbosa, Resident Assistants for Housing and Residential Life
Shelley Oliveira Barbosa, Class of 2020 is a Kinesiology major with a minor in Leadership Studies and Biology, first-year RA in Ellery Hall, and returning a Orientation Leader for New Student Programs.
Q: Why did you apply to be an RA?
A: Last year as a first-year student living on campus, I felt that my floor had a really great connection. We built a community and created a network of friends that still remain close to this day. This was all because of our RAs and the work they put into actually building and developing relationships on our floor.
A: I applied to be an RA for a combination of a reasons. One reason was because I really wanted the opportunity to live where I work and build a community with my residents and staff. I also wanted the chance to emulate the drive my RAs put towards bringing my floor and hall together.
Q: What do you love about being an RA?
A: Living where you work is an experience like no other. I love being there for my residents. This is one of the few jobs on campus where you have the opportunity to meet so many people. I’ve been given the chance to have some serious conversations with residents about pressing issues and the chance to just hang out with residents and play video games. As you can see, the range in which you can be there for residents is really a great thing.
A: I love helping people. It is a really great feeling to be that person others can go to whenever they are having any issues. It’s nice to have people reaching out to me and I’m always willing to help out. Although it has only been one year, I quickly realized that I can be a friend and resource to all of my residents.
Q: Proudest moment as an RA?
A: My very first day as an RA took me by surprise. During move-in I ended up seeing one of my residents very upset and crying. I approached them and tried to have a conversation with them but not matter what I tried, I wasn’t very successful. I continued to follow up with them throughout the year and was able to find out more about their life. I learned that they were a transfer student and they were having a hard time adjusting to the new environment. A year later, we still keep in contact and follow up just like we used to. Through this experience, I am able to see the impact of what reaching out can actually have on a resident’s life. Moments such as these are the ones that help you realize that as an RA you have the power to make such a difference in the community.
A: During one-on-ones I had a resident who was not interested in meeting with me. They felt as if our conversation wouldn’t be beneficial or amount to anything. By the end of our one-on-one, the resident signed up for another meeting with me. They told me that our conversations were able to ease their concerns about school and help them get through their day. I found this to be one of my proudest moments because I was able to be a resource and a comforting voice for one of my residents.
Q: Most important lesson to learn living in a residence hall?
A: Learning how to be adaptable is one of the most important skills that you can learn living in a residence hall. Some residents may never had a roommate and this experience may come as a culture shock. You are now in a community with so many different people and it’s important to learn how to work and live with each other. It is very interesting to see people who were complete strangers come together and become friends.
A: Respect and responsibility. Living in a residence hall is really fun and an easy way to meet so many different people. At the same time it can be easy to inadvertently annoy other people. Sometimes residents can get on other residents nerves by playing music too loud, leaving mess, putting thier trash out in the hallway. At the end of the day it really boils down to respect and being responsible and accountable for your actions.
Q: What superpower would you like to have as an RA?
A: Being an RA and being involved elsewhere on campus can sometimes be very challenging. I would love the ability to instantaneously teleport myself from one place to another. It would be great if I could teleport myself to Kinesiology class at Independence Square and then back to my residence hall to help my residents. Also, teleporting to the beach wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
A: I would really love the ability to read the minds of my residents. It would be so easy to throw programs for my residents if I could just read their minds and figure out what they all really need. For example, if I could read their minds and determine if the residents are stressed, I could quickly plan a stress relief program in order to better assist my residents.
Story and Photos by Romanuel Percy
Class of 2018, Communications and Political Science Major
Good luck to all students who are interviewing this weekend for RA positions!