Talk about overwhelming! I never thought that they would trust we with the lives of 38 young women. I could barely take care of myself. But there I was a Resident Advisor in a first-year residence hall. Time for meetings, meetings and more meetings. Floor meetings, staff meetings and committee meetings. Welcome to incident reports, troublemakers, and late nights. Welcome to responsible living. Welcome to growth, both personal and professional.
Of course, this was not all of my first impression of my new job. I thought I’d be losing out on my entire personal life. No more partying with my friends or going home on a whim. I now had to dedicate myself to the lives of my 38 residents, a staff of 19 other RAs and a senior staff of 4. It seemed like a big sacrifice for free room and board, but looking back, it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. A million dollars, maybe… but I’d have to think about it first.
It wasn’t until I had actually met my staff that I was completely sure that this was what I wanted. They were, and still are, the most positive group of people I have ever met. Through them I have found connections that will last a lifetime. By the time I met my residents, I was more worried about whether or not they would like me, to worry about whether or not I would excel in the job. After ten days of intense training, bonding with my staff over last minute door decs at 2 a.m., and the creating bulletins boards out of the prettiest paper I could find, my residents liking me was my greatest concern. After my first floor meeting, I knew I wouldn’t have to worry.
I was there at check-in and met most of my residents before they even got to the floor. I was way too chipper, because I was so nervous. But as I stared into a sea of about 30 brand new faces, still belonging to their parents, things just got easier from there. We did the “Name Game” as an ice-breaker (I was Adventurous Allana). It was important for me to be clear about what I expected from the jump. As long as they respected themselves, their floor-mates, and me, we’d all get along fine. It was also important for them to decide what was important to them.
Since that first floor meeting we’ve tackled all that we wanted for the next 8 months. We’ve probably missed a few things along the way, but I think most of my residents, if not all, came away with a great experience. I know I did.
I’ve met women that I’ll remember forever. Heard things that could make you laugh, cry, and mad at the world all at the same time. I’d share, except for that whole confidentiality thing. I’ve influenced lives, and had my life influenced by a spectacular group of women and an incredibly supportive staff. I’ve grown as a person, improved skills I had before, and developed others I didn’t know I was lacking. I’ve been able to improve on relationships I’ve always had, while creating new ones. I’ve forged friendships that I’ll cherish, and formed a web of memories that I’ll never forget. If I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I just wish I had done it sooner.
Submitted by Allana Lewis-Leben, Resident Assistant, Syracuse University