The highs and lows of being a Resident Advisor

This year I am a Resident Advisor (RA) at Steele Rudd College, one of the three Residential Colleges at USQ’s Toowoomba Campus and have often been asked what it is like to be an RA. An RA is a resident and student who is trained to help other residents with academic, social and welfare issues they may be having while living on college. There is always an RA ‘on duty’ outside of business hours at each of the three colleges who assists residents with things such as lock-outs, safety or security and maintenance issues, first aid and the hiring of vacuum cleaners. Being an RA is both a rewarding and challenging experience.

2015 USQ Resident Advisors celebrating the end of training

2015 USQ Resident Advisors celebrating the end of training with cupcakes

For me, being an RA is rewarding because I get to help people, something I have always enjoyed doing. I have seen first year students grow from being shy and unsure in the college environment, to being an essential vibrant member of the college community. I get to smile with and celebrate the big and small achievements of college residents as they move through their university journey. And it always brings a smile to my face (and makes me feel like a bit of a superhero) when a resident comes up to me with a simple ‘thank you for your support’ or ‘thank you for being there for me when no one else was’.

RARecruitmentApplicationSuperhero

As an RA I even get to plan events for the residents of my block to help foster friendships and create some fun and stress relief in to the chaos that is uni. #winning! I love organising events! Movie nights and block BBQs are always popular events (who doesn’t love free food?)!

Being an RA can also be challenging. Sometimes, other residents think of me as the ‘fun police’ for asking them to turn the music down during quiet hours when other residents are trying to study or sleep. And occasionally my friends shake their heads at me for asking ‘are you sure that is a good idea?’ when they talk about their plans to prank another friend.

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Some nights the phone rings for a lock-out or noise complaint at 3am when I have been up until 1am trying to complete assessment I know I shouldn’t have left to the last minute. And very rarely, it feels like I don’t get any sleep at all.

not-sure-if-i-should-sleep-futurama-fry

Occasionally I will be helping residents through stressful times at uni while also stressing out myself. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Being an RA has been one of the best experiences of my life. The skills I have learnt along the way outweigh the occasional night of sleep deprivation by a mile. I have had the opportunity to make friends with people I never thought I would make friends with. Seeing residents overcome the hurdles they face and succeeding on their path to fulfilling their dreams is possibly the best thing I have ever witnessed.

If you have ever thought about applying to be an RA, my advice would be to go for it. There’s no real way you can know what it is like to be an RA until you actually are one, but I’ve never regretted my decision to apply.

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About Kim

Hi, my name is Kim Kerslake. I am currently studying a Master of Management specialising in Marketing, after completing a Bachelor of Business majoring in Marketing and Management & Leadership in 2013. I moved to Toowoomba from Mitchell, a small country town in south-western Queensland, five years ago. For the first four years that I lived on College I lived in the self-catered block at Steele Rudd College. This year, I have the privilege of being the Resident Advisor (RA) for that same block. Before moving to College, I had never lived away from home and I was nervous about moving away from my family. Moving on to College has now proven to be the best decision I have ever made. I’ve made lots of friends who are always close by to offer support, a laugh and study advice. One of the great things about living on College is that there is always something fun and exciting happening, like the Inter-College Residential Shield competition or a slip ‘n’ slide. Last year and again this year I have had the opportunity to work behind the scenes with the Residential Colleges and Marketing teams as the Residential Colleges Digital Intern. It has been a fantastic experience that has allowed me to gain experience whilst studying. When I’m not at work or studying, I enjoy curling up with a good novel, baking cakes and biscuits and watching the Big Bang Theory. I hope you enjoy reading my blogs and getting to know more about me! Feel free to share your experiences with me in the comments section.

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