The Inside Scoop on Being an RA!

Nicole Letendre ’23
Chief Features Editor

The Office of Residence Life & Housing employs approximately 90 Resident Assistants (RAs) and 11 Head Resident Assistants (HRAs) to foster community, promote educational learning, and enforce policy within the residence halls. Each semester, RAs and HRAs undergo rigorous training to become educated on how best to serve their communities through programming initiatives, healthy conflict management skills, and team building exercises. These students balance their busy academic schedules with their social lives as college students, as well as with the important responsibility of being an RA or HRA in the residence halls. RAs coordinate and organize two active and two passive programs with their floor community throughout a semester, coming up with new and creative ways to engage with their community. A Holiday Craft Night, DIY Bullet Journal Kits, Taylor Swift “Red” Listening Party, and Trivia Night are just a few of the amazing programs RAs put their time and effort into organizing for residents. 

Brianna Cummings ’22, HRA of Wheeler Hall, expressed her love of community building by affirming, “My favorite thing about being an RA is that I have been able to get much closer with a lot of people outside my own class year. Now being a senior, I actually haven’t lived with my own class year since I was a first-year. However, I have always made it a point to be out and about in my residence hall and getting to know the people I live with. I have gotten close with both my own direct residents and others over the years, which not only has made me feel more comfortable living in first-year/sophomore buildings as an upperclassman, but I imagine has helped everyone else too, making it less awkward for me to be around and (hopefully) breaking some of the ‘RAs can be not so nice’ stereotype that exists on most college campuses. Now, some of my closest friends are people who were my residents when I was a sophomore or who have been on my staff through the years!” RAs are able to build community and foster educational learning in the residence halls they serve, a huge responsibility that doesn’t come without its challenges. Libby Chase ’24, RA in Hanselman Hall describes difficulties that come up in the position, stating “The biggest challenge I’ve found as an RA so far is how often residents misunderstand the RA role. I’ve often had to explain to my residents that I am first and foremost a community builder and support system for them, rather than an authority figure. I really think that more communication about our role to our residents can help them to trust and depend on RAs more.”

Photo courtesy of Nicole Letendre ’23

RAs are an essential part of the Holy Cross experience, and they put so much thought and energy into every positive interaction and successful program within their community. In preparation for the arrival of students at the beginning of the fall semester, RAs and HRAs undergo a week of on-campus training, as well as several days of preparing bulletin boards and door decorations to brighten up the space and cultivate a sense of community on their floor. Each RA has their own pivotal story of why they pursued this position in Residence Life, a decision that has been so worthwhile for many. 

Whatever one’s individual reason for becoming an RA, they are undoubtedly relied on and act as a source of support for so many students. Dennis Liu ’22, HRA of Carlin and Alumni Hall, offered to share his journey to becoming an RA: “During my sophomore year, it became difficult for me to afford coming to Holy Cross. Having already been well-adjusted into the community, I did what I could to avoid transferring. I applied to be an RA knowing that a housing grant equal to that of the price of a room was given to RAs. I got the job and worked hard and made the absolute most of the role. I ended up really enjoying connecting with residents in the position. What was supposed to just be a way to afford school became one of if not the most rewarding leadership role I have taken on at Holy Cross.” RAs have acted as role models and friends to many students, encouraging residents to apply for an RA position and become involved in the Residence Life & Housing community. These positive interactions between RAs and students have resulted in whole new waves of talented, goal-oriented leaders. 

Libby Chase ’24, RA in Hanselman Hall shared her own story of becoming an RA: “I came onto the Holy Cross campus during spring of 2021 and had a really difficult freshman year. Having no support system or connections on campus and also being restricted more or less to just my dorm room made it hard to adjust and feel welcome. But, during this time the people that made the biggest difference were the upperclassmen that I met, specifically those in leadership positions. My freshman year RA was someone that I knew I could always count on and who always made an effort to create a home within our hall. Additionally, the upperclassmen of the Marching Band constantly made sure to check up on the freshman and invite us to any socially distant events they could. This really inspired me. I wanted the opportunity to do the same for the next incoming freshman class, and I knew that being an RA would give me that chance.”

The community within Residence Life & Housing itself has been foundational, giving rising resident assistants role models in returning RAs and HRAs. Among staff, the genuine friendship and camaraderie is heartwarming and provides students with life-long leadership and teamwork skills. Ashley Fortune ‘23, RA for Carlin and Alumni Hall, stated “RA Lorra ’22 is one RA that I would say is a role model for me. Lorra handles everything with so much patience, grace, and level headedness when it comes to her position. She gives me a lot of guidance when I need it most, as well. The RA role can be a lot to do when you don’t have a strong support system and she was the first one that I had when I was starting up as an RA. I ❤ you Lorra.” 

RAs supporting RAs is always such an awesome feeling. Fellow resident assistants can offer built-in support systems and overall, strong friendships. Many RAs are so thankful they decided to apply and ultimately accept the position. Despite the challenges of the role, being a resident assistant is among the most rewarding experiences for students. Sarah Cooper ‘23, HRA of Clark Hall, summed it up perfectly saying, “One of the most rewarding parts of being an RA has been the ability to be a part of such a great community at Holy Cross. The ResLife fam has been so giving, kind, and supportive throughout my time here and has made me feel so welcome! Not only have the other RAs, HRAs, and Professional Staff been such a great support system, but the ability to connect with the residents in my building has been amazing.”

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