When sophomore Prab Auila was asked what she appreciated most about her Resident Advisor last year, she proudly said, “We became more than an RA and a resident, we became really good friends. She always offered advice on classes, boys or anything I came to her with. It was nice to have someone when you were far away from home who was always there for you.”
Mom, dad, sister, brother, mentor, supervisor and friend are just some roles which Resident Advisors at UCI embody. The job requires each RA to be versatile, putting on a different hat at a moments notice. Although RA’s get free room and board, the perks of building a community and watching their freshmen grow outweigh the financial benefits for most RA’s.
Ever since she was 10 years old, senior Courtney Bell has wanted to be an RA. “I remember walking into my older sister’s hall and wondering why there was Curious George everywhere. I asked my sister and she said it was her theme and that her RA had put them up. I asked her what an RA was and she told me, and that’s when I knew I wanted to become one.”
Fast-forward 10 years later, and Bell is waking up in her room in Middle Earth’s Valimar as a senior. She props her door open so that any of her residents can walk in and talk to her. Once she’s ready, she walks down her hall happily greeting anybody who is awake, sparking up conversation about their night and what they have planned for the day.
After class, Bell heads back to Valimar to hang out with her residents. Later she decides to leave campus to spend time with one of her best friends. She says that time away from Valimar is better so that she can learn to balance her life in her hall and her outside life.
After hanging out with her friend, she comes back to set up a program for her residents called Coffee Hour Tuesday, where they come together in the common room and drink coffee or tea. Last year, she says that this program would always end in a movie night, but this year she is trying to make it more about getting to know each other.
However, Bell wouldn’t mind if it did end with them watching an episode or two of “The Vampire Diaries” since that is what her hall is currently obsessed with.
“I keep missing episodes because I have to step out for a minute for some reason, and so I always ask my residents to catch me up, but so many things always happen in that time!” she laughs.
After attending the weekly staff meeting, she plops down at her desk to finish up any homework. Once finished, her day is finally over, so she turns off the lights and gets some sleep. The next morning she wakes up and repeats the process all over again.
This is a typical day in the life of some Resident Advisors, consistently devoting their time and energy to make sure that their residents feel at home. Most of their day revolves around tending to the needs of their residents, but it’s a part of their job that most of them welcome.
Senior Mesa Court RA Jonathan Dhauw remembers one time this year when he had brought his keyboard into the common room, and left for ten minutes. When he came back, everyone had brought out their own instruments and were playing together.
“It’s amazing to see the bonds and initiatives that they take,” said Dhauw. “It’s not just us that build the community, they build it as well with themselves.”
Zerghona Wadood, a first-time Mesa Court RA, had been putting up posters and working really hard putting on her first event of the year for the past two days. Although she was bracing herself for a small turnout, maybe five people or so, the event turned out to have more than 30 residents in attendance.
Although the age difference between freshmen and RA’s can sometimes seem like a strange foundation for a friendship, as Bell puts it, “they have references that I still don’t get!”
However, when Bell walks down Ring Road and sees a former resident, she hugs her while the girl shouts, “I miss you!” It’s moments like these when Bell knows that all her efforts to give her residents a memorable first year is worth it.
Filed Under: Features