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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The fall 2021 semester completely changed my life as a student. It was my first semester as an RA, my first semester with in-person classes, and is the  first semester I really had to work for my grades. All while dealing with severe Post-Concussion Syndrome and a Traumatic Brain Injury. Sounds like a lot, right? Yea, well it definitely was. But I learned a lot about being a role model and as a Resident Assistant (RA).

Planners can make or break you

If you’re planning on being an RA, plan on getting a planner because it is SO necessary. I have to do two resident chats a semester with every resident, duty on certain days, bulletin boards, events, and meetings.  Without it, I would completely drown in the stress. My planner saved me so much stress in the long run. Yes, writing down all my to-dos for RA things (and for classes) stressed me out in the  moment, but when I looked to schedule things for the upcoming week, I knew exactly what I needed to do each day/week/month.

Reach out to your co-RAs

This sounds self-explanatory, but boy-oh-boy do I wish I had made the connections with my co-RAs sooner. It would’ve saved me so many nights where I cried because they didn’t know me well enough to invite me to things. Now, I’m working on building those relationships, but if I had gone to every team meal during summer training, I wouldn’t have to work twice as hard now.

Connect with your residents

This definitely sounds obvious but trust me and try to connect with your residents as quickly as possible. I adore my residents, but I wish I was closer with a lot of them. I always joke that I wish I had “harassed” them sooner because I would’ve met some amazing people much faster. Of course, “harass” is an intense word and I don’t mean that literally. I mean, knock on doors, open your door as much as possible, talk to them when you can, text them and ask about things they’ve mentioned, etc.

Set the right tone

I absolutely did not set the right tone with my floor during the first few weeks and it definitely shows now. I wish I had made less of an effort to prove my authority and more of an effort to make connections. I love my residents, but they all definitely don’t see me that way because I came off prepared to do my job. Now, I’m trying to set the tone that they are my friends so don’t make me do my job; however, it’s hard to change a first impression.

Duty Rounds are Awkward

They tell you in training how hard rounds are. They say that you could be doing rounds and come across anything. They’ll share these scary stories from their times as RAs. Of course, it can happen, and it definitely has happened for me. I’ve had long nights on duty and I’ve had really bad nights where I deal with incident after incident. HOWEVER, what they don’t tell you is that on a regular, average night, it is so awkward. My duty partner and I will be just doing our thing and residents will just glare at us or awkwardly smile and wave. Over time, it got less awkward, but sometimes I still find myself blushing as I tell the 500th person of the day to put a mask on/over their nose. 

Overall, I love my job. I love the residents, especially with the ones I’ve made strong connections with. I love the other RAs in my buildings. I love the atmosphere. I adore my direct bosses. I love that I can get my things printed for free. I love seeing my residents every day, even if they ignore me or pretend they didn’t see me. I adore them and I’ll definitely miss their antics next year. For now, I will cherish these moments.

Kattiah Richardson is currently a student at Michigan State University double majoring in both English and Women's and Gender Studies with a double minor in Jewish Studies and LGBTQ+ Sexuality Studies with the hopes of becoming a professor in the future. She is a part of a ton of student organizations on campus: Planned Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA), Pad the Mitten (PTM), We are Queens (WAQ), Planned Parenthood's Legislative Action Team (LAT), and, of course, Her Campus MSU. She also attends Hillel's and The Center for Survivors' events! Aside from university-related activities, she loves activism, reading, writing, dancing, and (badly) singing!
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