Community Assistants, otherwise known as “CAs” at SLU, act as a cross between an older sibling and camp counselor as they hold the lovely job of supervising an entire dorm floor of students. Whether you are housed in the New Dorm, the Suites, or in any of the freshman dorms such as Gaines, Lee, Whitman, Reiff, Rebert, and Priest, it’s likely that you will bump into some of the 62 Community Assistants we have here on campus. Although you will hear different stories about SLU students’ interactions with their CAs, you don’t often hear what the CAs have to say about their part of the experience. Jess LaMay ‘18 overlooks a pack of First Years on the third floor of Lee Hall West, and she shares what it’s like being both a student leader and pseudo-mom in a dorm here at SLU.
What made you want to apply for the Community Assistant position?
Jess: When I was a freshman, I looked into leadership roles available here on campus because I wanted to get more involved here at SLU. I didn’t really know a lot of people as a shy freshman, so I was looking for a way to get in with a group of people that was doing fun things on campus. It’s been such an amazing experience because I have been able to connect with all the other CAs across campus who come from many backgrounds and are pursuing majors in such different fields, as well as all of my residents. It’s so nice to see so many familiar faces around!
Is the job what you thought it was going to be like?
Jess: It’s a different type of responsibility than I thought it was going to be. At first I was really nervous and overwhelmed, but after going through the training I felt really prepared to be a CA and I learned how important it was going to be to get my residents involved and to help them make connections with each other. Making sure everyone is happy and comfortable is a huge task, but the SLU community does a great job of opening up its arms to the new members of our campus family.
I think that there is a stigma as to what a typical “RA” is in college, as most students think that these positions should be feared, however, at SLU Community Assistants hold a role that is so much more than just being overbearing on the rules. We try to instead be a support system that works cohesively with all the departments in order to provide a “safety net” for students and allow them to grow and to thrive throughout their four years of college.
Are there any special job perks that come with the position that you really enjoy?
Ummm….free pizza! Usually the freshmen will let me in on their late night Sergi’s which is a HUGE plus.
Do you have any funny stories about being a CA?
Honestly, I think that something funny happens every day just through different situations, especially with freshmen because they are new to college. I have laughed at loud at some stuff, like watching boys trying to do their laundry for the first time. I have been extremely lucky to have great groups of residents during my two years as a CA, so it’s usually comic relief for me during my own stresses in college.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing my residents grow from Move-In Day to first semester Sophomores has been so fulfilling because I get to see their transition to SLU and watch them find their place, whether that means getting involved through sports teams, clubs, jobs, or any of the other opportunities present on campus.
What is Move-In Day and Orientation like from your perspective?
There is A LOT of behind the scenes preparation that goes into it. In the beginning I’m given a list of all my residents’ names, and I just have to go into it wondering what each person is going to be like. Orientation is actually hilarious for me because I have to expose SLU to a group of freshmen who have no idea where anything is on campus yet, but it’s also really cool to have a bunch of people with new and fresh eyes that are seeing everything for the first time.
After this experience, what would you tell any SLU students that are interested in becoming CAs in the future?
It is such a great way to put yourself out there and meet people! Be prepared to be put outside your comfort zone and to be open to learning new things not only about this school and about other people, but also about yourself as well. You will develop leadership and teamwork skills that will assist you in your student career and will follow you once you leave SLU. Even if you don’t see yourself pursuing the CA position, go find that one thing that allows you to leave your mark here!
P.S Jess also happens to be a barista at Brewer Bookstore, and she makes a killer Raspberry Mocha or Pumpkin Frappe (come to her for the secret menu!) :)