Gary’s Leadership Spotlight: From Community Member to Community Advisor

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.

Gary with his residence hall staff from Lynn University.
Gary with his residence hall staff from Lynn University.

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.



One thought on “Gary’s Leadership Spotlight: From Community Member to Community Advisor

  1. Congradulations gary I’m glad to see that you are in a position you are really enjoying and taking to the next level hope to see you soon Joe Tonnotti


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