From rape to roommate conflict, Brittany Connor knows how to handle it all.
When the 19-year-old got a phone call at around 5 a.m. saying a resident had fallen off her and needed to go to the hospital, Connor’s training kicked in immediately.
“It was pretty bad,” she said. “I was trying to help the roommates out, and see if they were doing okay because they woke up to [their roommate] falling on the floor.”
Connor, a second-year pre-physical therapy major, is a resident assistant in charge of about 54 young women living on the second floor of Tolbert this year.
Resident assistants, known as RAs, are students who serve as not only supervisors to their fellow Gators living on-campus but also as resources for academic and social opportunities at the university.
“I heard a few people say ‘Oh, I’m doing it for the money,’” she said. “That wasn’t the reason why I wanted to do it.”
The outgoing and positive demeanor her RA from last year played a big role when deciding if she would apply for the position herself, Connor said.
“I realized I could help these girls,” she said.
The selection process, especially for female hires, was very competitive, she said.
Originally, Connor said, she thought interviewers would just ask general questions.
Instead they asked her random questions such as: “What video games do you like?” or “If you could create a holiday, what would it be?”
Meanwhile, Connor’s said her second interview consisted of “stone-faced” interviewers and a couple of really hard questions.
“I felt like any response I gave them was wrong,” she said. “I was scared at that point.”
Connor’s experience is a little different from other RAs. Ten of her residents are involved in Reserve Officer Training Corps, an armed forces commissioning program for college students, otherwise known as ROTC.
To keep up with the military environment her residents are surrounded by, Connor said she represented each military branch in some way. Connor said she also decorated with dog tags and pink, brown and green camouflage.
Although there are many benefits to being an RA, having the position isn’t as easy as it may seem. In addition to keeping up with his or her own studies and being a role model, RAs are expected to host activities, decorate bulletin boards, man the area desk for four hours a week and rotate shifts on-call.
Connor said it can be very tiring at times, but the rewards outweigh any and all disadvantages.
“It’s definitely exciting to see someone who keeps to themself come out and make connections with other people on the floor,” she said.
At the end of the day, Connor said she just wants everyone to succeed and have a great college experience.
“I want to impact people in a positive way,” she said.