Every year, a group of dedicated students decide to embrace an opportunity and make a difference by applying for a resident assistant position.
Commonly known as RAs, these students live in residence halls and advise residents to become interactive within their residential communities.
“The reason why I am an RA is because I like to help other people,” said senior biochemistry major Amaris Rodriguez, who serves 1300 residence hall.
At the start of the spring semester, applications are submitted and the selection process begins. Once candidates’ applications have been reviewed, selected applicants participate in Group Process Day, which features various group-oriented activities. Next, they meet with a resident director and two RAs to discuss qualifications for the position. After the screening process is completed, a mandatory six-week RA course is administered to candidates and alternatives. The course instructs RAs on leadership skills such as ethics, problem-solving abilities, diversity and social justice.
Ingrid Tannous, a senior secondary education major, was selected as an RA for Johnson Hall.
Tannous said the six-week class allows RAs to practice skills.
“Compared to last year’s training, [the class] allowed us to focus more on practical application, since theory was covered,” Tannous said.
Victoria Peter, a sophomore business major, said assignments given in the course were beneficial in preparing her for a productive community environment in her residence hall.
“We had to plan a program. It sort of jump-started our thoughts and got us excited about thinking about stuff during the summer,” said Peter, who is an RA for the Edge.
The six-week class is only the beginning of the process. A two-week training program requires the attendance of RAs during the summer. The first day of training was an RA ‘welcome back’ celebration that was followed by a full day of events.
To promote team building, training included a scavenger hunt around Philadelphia and a rope climbing challenge in which RAs learned to overcome their fears and challenges in an effort to encourage fellow staff members.
Conference-style sessions allowed RAs to participate in workshops such as “(Re)Discovering Your Passions” and “I Can’t Believe I Ate All That (Nutrition).”
RAs were also given the opportunity to acquire certification as peer educators from the BACCHUS Network, a university- and community-based network that focuses on comprehensive health and safety initiatives. Firefighters also educated RAs on fire safety and what to do in emergency situations.
Training ended with RAs staging realistic situations in a play, while incorporating all of the skills learned during the two weeks.
“Every year, RA training is cool because we always have new people and we have fun,” said senior English major Danny Calise, who has been an RA for more than three years.
RAs play a vital role in the Temple community. Some RAs are responsible for up to 80 residents. They undergo intense training in order to have a positive impact on their residents.
“My RA really influenced me to be an RA because she was so nurturing,” said Shalea Khan, a sophomore accounting and finance major, who recently became an RA at the Edge for the fall semester.
During summer training, RAs moved into 1300 residence hall, where the staff became better acquainted at late-night events such as movie nights. It was at these events where the soon-to-be RAs shared unique experiences on a more intimate scale.
Keisha Frazier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.