When RA training began in August, my dad pulled up to the Student Life office with a packed trunk and my siblings to help unload. I scrambled to get my key and back to the car to make the process as quick as possible.
I was so ready for my new apartment and my new role as a resident assistant, but I knew I only had about an hour and a half to do all of this before my first-ever RA meeting.
After emotional good-byes at the car, I turned back to Campion Tower and felt ready to take on RA training, even though I didn’t really know what this meant or entailed.
When I applied for the position, I knew RAs are meant to help students with the adjustments of college life, such as aiding smooth transitions into the residence halls, the new college workload, the social aspects of building community, and personal adjustments.
What I was interested in finding out was… what else?
What were we going to spend two weeks being trained for?
This question was answered pretty quickly in the first meeting.
After a few ice breakers (as I soon learned are the hallmark of all student leadership trainings in college, so it’s best to have a few fun facts up your sleeve!), they announced that the theme for all of RA training was “Ignite your Passion.” I loved the sound of that.
We went around the group and all talked about what we were passionate about.
This made me think of how I even got to that seat, at RA training, two weeks before everyone else moved in, ready to undergo this training I didn’t know anything about…
Throughout my childhood, I always told people I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. When we played “house” during recess, I was always the mom and the teacher, and I loved that role. So I stuck with this idea that teaching was my vocation without putting any thought into what else I could possibly be or do in life.
I enrolled at Loyola as an intended elementary education major because it was what I always loved as a kid. At the time this made sense. And then, things quickly changed for me. I was sitting in elementary education classes with 20 other students who were madly in love with the subject. They had a passion for and felt a calling to teaching young children in a school, feelings I could not relate to.
This was the first time I realized I had just thrown myself into a major, any major, without much thought or passion fueling it.
With this being said, throughout the course of my first year, I changed my major, my career path, set new short- and long-term goals, and ultimately found where I belong on campus.
As I sat there in RA training, listening to everyone’s specific and personal passions, when it was my turn to share, I said, simply, “helping others.” Of course, this is very general. Perhaps even cliche. For a moment I was worried it didn’t sound genuine or sincere.
Looking back, it does a pretty good job of describing my biggest passion. And in fact, this is what being a resident assistant is all about. The goal of RA training was to learn how to incorporate your interests into the position, while taking into account the well-being and passions of your residents.
My co-RA and I work hard to build community on our floor through programming in our apartments, giving advice, getting to know our residents personally, and providing resources all over campus. Because I am a RA for first-year students, this also means that I live among first-year students…and once you get past the rowdiness, it makes it that much easier to get to know each person individually and be there to help them adjust and support them on their own academic and personal journeys.