Erica Fraser: Making Mason Home

Courtesy of Erica Fraser

The majority of the students at George Mason University don’t live on campus and choose to commute. Those who do live on campus come from all over the world. It’s the job of the department of Housing and Residence Life to make sure that the students who do live on campus feel as though they’re at home here for however many years they live at Mason. They go through a thorough process of hiring people from directors to RAs to aid in this journey of making campus home for those who live here. Erica Fraser is one of the resident directors for the Rappahannock neighborhood. She is ‘in charge’ of a team of resident advisors and helps carry the weight of making George Mason a home for others. Here’s a small glimpse into her life and role at Mason:

ZW: What are you studying? Where would you like that to lead you?

EF: I am finishing up my Public Health Degree. When I started, I wanted to learn how to get students to adopt healthy behaviors and develop confidence in their abilities to improve their lives. I no longer want to work in public health, but what I learned will help me as I pursue a career in Higher Education. I am still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do.

ZW: How do you deal with stress?

EF: When I feel stressed, I try to learn something new. Seems counterproductive, but it allows me to shift my focus and explore something new. It also helps me stop ruminating over things that frustrate me. When I am really stressed, I take nap, sing or dance.

ZW: What are some of your hobbies?

EF: I am currently learning how to draw. I’ve always loved art and used to draw when I was younger. For some reason I stopped. It’s been fun learning and trying new mediums like paint and markers. I’ve also started my blog after three years of thinking about it.

ZW: What is something you struggle with?

EF: Fear of failure. It shows up in two main ways: trying new things and thinking that I am one step away from messing up my life. Sounds dramatic but, it’s true. I have to remind myself that I am on my own journey and that I need to have faith in the process. No matter how long I think it’s taking, I need to stay focused on my lane.

ZW: Why did you choose to become a Resident Director?

EF: I had an awesome Residence Life experience in undergrad. I was shy growing up and didn't talk much. For the first two years of undergrad I wasn’t involved on campus. I wasn’t sure what I liked and I was uncomfortable putting myself out there. That changed when my friends got involved in Residence Life and introduced me to professionals in the department. They encouraged me to join Inter-Residence Hall Association. It helped me make new connections and friends on campus. I became an RD to help students, specifically those that seem unsure of themselves, get involved and develop leadership skills, the same way my RD and other Residence Life Staff helped me.

ZW: What are some of your roles/responsibilities as an Resident Director?

EF: As an RD, it is my responsibility to make sure students feel safe and supported in the Residence Hall. I also work with a team of RAs to find the best ways to assist students as they develop a sense of belonging to their communities as well as the university.

ZW: How do you think your job influences those around you in your community?

EF: My first exposure to an RD was Whitley Gilbert on A Different World. While I don’t think my life as an RD is as glamorous or entertaining as Whitney’s, I think I influence students the same way she did, by being a resource, being herself (unapologetically) and helping others figure themselves out.

ZW: What do you think is the most important part of your job as an Resident Director?

EF: The most important role as an RD is to support my RAs and make sure they have the tools to be successful in their role.

Erica is a person, a student and a strong individual like many of us who attend or work at George Mason University. One important thing to remember is that not only are those who work for Housing and Residence Life making a home for other’s on campus, they’re also making a home for themselves.