This month, the Lead365 community engagement team is looking at their formative college leadership experiences as many of us head back to campus and the classroom. Today: Gary tells us what becoming an RA in his second year means to him today.
Four years ago, as a sophomore, I became a Resident Assistant for a first-year student resident hall. I was excited at first because I was a people person; and I wanted to connect with others, make new friends and enjoy the experience. I had heard great things from other people who were RAs in college who had a good experiences. But almost two months into the position I had an “a-ha!” moment. I did not know what it was exactly, but I was liking the experience more than I thought.
I was very involved on my campus all throughout college; my RA positions lead me to other great opportunities. But I never really expected to take on big leadership roles in either a Fraternity, Student Government, or even being a Community Advisor in our Housing department. By my junior year in college, I had a mentor mention to me that I should think about a field called “student affairs.” At this moment in my life, I loved every moment of being involved, more than being in class. I thought to myself, “I actually could do this as a living.” It came to me at a perfect time, because I was not entirely sure what I wanted to do after I graduated. So I took the summer to look into. As it turns out, it was some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. I was very fortunate to get into an amazing graduate program with some support from amazing mentors. I am currently a Graduate Assistant with the Department of Housing Residence Life at the University of West Florida, in their College Student Affairs Administration Program.
I feel so lucky that my involvement got me to the start of my career path. I learned some great lessons through my involvement as an RA- great people skills; leadership skills; and, most importantly, personal skills. I gained growth within myself. I can confidently find resources, assist with conflict resolution, and execute successful programming. This is not a job for everyone; it takes a special type of skill. I’ve definitely learned that I do have that. Every day, I love waking up and working with the students who live in the community that I live in. I like creating a engaged and involved community, because I personally feel that if a college student has a positive and involved community in college then that could help with retention rates.