Melody Garcia and Matthew Wilhite are currently resident assistants (RA) at Bushnell University. In this Q&A, they share their individual experiences on what RA life is like and what it takes to be successful.
What do your daily tasks include as an RA?
Melody: My RA daily tasks consist of making sure my hall residents are doing well, both physically and emotionally; keeping up the tidiness of the communal bathroom and kitchen; Responding to and reporting complaints along with other repair orders; and promoting hall events.
Matthew: My daily tasks as an RA include going to class, going to the caf, and hanging out in my hall. Sometimes I also run into residents in the bean or in the rug room, as well as seeing them at campus events like night chapel and intramurals. About every month I host an event for my hall, in March I hosted a March Madness bracket challenge for my hall to compete in! I am always running into my residents, and I enjoy saying hi to them around campus!
What is the most difficult part of this role? What is the best part?
Melody: The most difficult part of this role has been when residents disrespect you and you must remember that the bigger picture is to help your residents learn to be better not for your benefit, but for their personal growth. While the best part has been the conversations and time spent with my residents. Not just when we have hall events but on our own time and enjoying a genuine conversation.
Matthew: The most difficult part of this role is navigating conflict. Dealing with conflict can be awkward and uncomfortable, but is necessary and can strengthen your relationships with residents. The best part of being an RA is the awesome relationships you can create with your residents as well as being able to guide them through their college career, it’s a really cool position to be in.
What skills do you have to have to be a good RA?
Melody: In order to be a good RA, one must understand and be able to practice patience, strong communication skills, and strong problem-solving skills. An RA has to understand that they are taking responsibility for a hall or in some cases, buildings full of students and their well-being. To be a good RA is the decision to be a strong leader amongst your peers and to represent the institution you work for along with promoting inclusivity and acceptance.
Matthew: Some skills you need to have in order to be a good RA are leadership skills, responsibility, a willing attitude, good time management, and a heart for intentionality. The job can be challenging at times, but these skills will help in the hard times and the good times.
“The best part of being an RA is the awesome relationships you can create with your residents as well as being able to guide them through their college career, it’s a really cool position to be in.”
How has this experience benefited you?
Melody: I have definitely benefited from this opportunity through both the good and bad experiences. From times I have spent trying to get to know my residents on more than just a surface level to the times when I have had hall events go wrong and mistakes of how to handle a situation; Good and bad experiences have allowed me to learn and grow as a leader and role model.
Matthew: This experience has benefited me to get to know a large number of residents on campus, grow in my conflict management skills, and grow as a person. Since being an RA at Bushnell I have grown in deeper appreciation for the school and its mission.
What advice would you give students wanting to be an RA in the future?
Melody: The advice I would give to any students wanting to be an RA in the near future would be to remember that there is no one type of RA. You don’t have to be an overly extroverted person who has the absolute school spirit, all you have to be (not do but be) is an intentional leader who wants to help others and is able to support them when need be. Any students wanting to be an RA in the future should be aware of the time and effort expected of them and the commitment they will need to juggle being a student and role model for their residents.
Matthew: Some advice I would give students who want to be an RA in the future is to try it! If you want to grow in your leadership skills, then try the job out! It is a great way to be involved with the student body and puts you in a position to care for your fellow Beacons!
“Good and bad experiences have allowed me to learn and grow as a leader and role model.”
About Bushnell University
Founded in 1895 Bushnell University helps students discover and answer God’s call on their lives. Devoted to offering a Christ-centered environment, Bushnell encourages students to grow in wisdom, informed by faith, and leading to lives of service. Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the University was founded by pastor-educator Eugene C. Sanderson and pioneer businessman and church leader James A. Bushnell. Bushnell is the largest private university in Eugene’s vibrant university district. The University offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees for undergraduate and graduate studies through course formats on campus, online, and evening, as well as online programs for MBA, MA in Leadership, and M.Ed. More information about the University is available at www.bushnell.edu.