Liz Herrmann—With the Resident Assistant application recently going live I’ve been thinking about what made me apply and how much I’ve grown since that application. Last spring semester was my first semester as a Resident Assistant (RA). I knew when I was 10 years old that I wanted to be an RA because my sister was an RA at SUNY Binghamton at the time. When I visited her I thought it was the coolest job, do events and interact with students let alone rad college kids! It is the most rewarding job on campus; if you love working with people it’s the perfect job. I’ve never regretted opening my door at 4 am because I know that when that person walks out my door I made an impact. I had one resident come out to me before anyone else and I felt so honored that someone trusted me this much with something so huge. One myth about RAs is that we don’t care. We care. Most RAs care boatloads about their residents. Something I feel that has changed me the most is when my residents achieve something they run to tell me, knowing I will be immensely proud. When they come to me crying about being hurt or someone doing them wrong I want to do anything in my power to help them and make them smile again. This leads to another important aspect of being an RA that has benefited me outside of a residence hall, remembering names. Being an RA has taught me that part of my mission in my life is to make everyone feel important. “People won’t always remember what you said, but they will remember how it made them feel.” Taking the time to get to know them and invest in them gives me that “complete” feeling; the feeling that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. The last thing that has impacted me the most is being there. One night it was 12:30 and I was taking a quiz (due the next day, so studious right?) and one of my residents walks in with tears streaming down her face. We sat there for three hours, she cried and cried and I hugged her. My heart hurt for her; it was painful seeing her with all of these tears and not being able to do anything about it. She spewed thoughts, she cried and I knew I didn’t have to say anything. Just being there with tissues and mini M&M’s (an essential) I knew I was doing the most I could.
Most of my residents say “love you” before leaving, and sometimes it’s jokey and then other times it’s our type of love. They are the only reason I open my door at 4 am, but please not during finals week!