Photo & Art Editor
Christina Newman is a junior at WMU, double majoring in Speech Pathology & Audiology and Spanish. Newman is a first-year resident assistant (RA) in the Burnhams.
Q. What are the challenges and joys of being an RA? What are your responsibilities?
A. The challenges and responsibilities really depend on what community or building you’re living in because they’re all so different. I love interacting with the residents in the Burnhams. They always have something funny to say and my life would be far less interesting if I weren’t where I am today. The RA position has also forced me to have really good time management skills. Typically, in our building, we are on duty one night of the week and several weekends through the semester. We have staff meetings and one-on-one meetings with our hall director or graduate assistant on a weekly basis as well as collaterals, which are a little different for each building. We create bulletin boards and design door tags for our residents. We put on educational and fun programs that challenge residents to meet others, give them tips and tricks for studying and succeeding in their academics, talk about diversity, and so much more. We’re always prepared for the unexpected and wear many hats. We can be a big sister/brother, a consultant, an educator, a first responder to crisis or a contact to many campus resources. A fellow RA and I were just recently talking about how much we have learned from the position that applies to situations outside of the job. We’re able to handle high pressure situations in a calm and logical manner.
Q. What made you decide to apply to be an RA?
A. I got involved with Residence Life through the Residence Hall Association (RHA), which I found out about by becoming a member of the executive board of Ackley/Shilling’s hall government my first year at Western. I met RAs at WMU and other schools across the country through RHA that really fired me up about Residence Life. The more they talked about the opportunities they had to make a positive impact on other students’ lives and be a good role model, the more I wanted the job!
Q. What do you think it takes for a student to be a good candidate for becoming an RA?
A. One of the most important skills to have as an RA is effective communication. An RA needs to be able to communicate their needs and expectations in a professional manner to their superiors, fellow RAs, police, residents, residents’ guests, parents and anyone that may be associated with the building. RAs also need to be able to receive messages in an appropriate way. We should be proactive, willing to help others and most importantly, willing to learn and accept others!