Knocking at the door. Sterling rolls over and looks at his clock. It is after two o’clock and on a weekend. He sighs, gets out of bed and goes to the door. The door opens to the sight of a distressed hall resident.
Sterling quickly discovers that the pertinent cause for the late night knocking isn’t something that he can or wishes to solve at this time of night: “My air conditioner isn’t working.”
This is just one side of being an Resident Assistant (RA) at Troy University. Pace Hall RA Sterling Wingard, a junior information systems major from Cape Coral, Fla., is used to this routine.
The position is the unique intersection of a student, employee and community leader.
“Very broadly, an RA is a student first,” said Erika Rousseau, the north campus community director. “After that, they are a leader, a role model and a resource for the students. If the students have an issue or if they need to know when the dining hall is open, the RA’s can help them find their way.”
Currently, Troy University employs 73 RA’s to serve all of on-campus student residents living in its 27 housing complexes.
Of the on-campus jobs, the time requirements of an RA’s work schedule might be the most irregular.
“There is a lot of unseen stuff, from coming to school early and leaving late to the little things we do to try and better our residents’ experiences here” said Sean Blessing, a junior American history major and RA in Alumni Hall from Sarasota, Fla.
Whether it’s letting a forgetful student into his room who misplaced his keys or roaming the halls of their dorm at 11:53 on a Saturday night, RA’s are there to serve the student population.
“First and foremost, RA’s are servant leaders,” said Rousseau. “They really have a heart to serve the university. It’s not fun to fine a student, but is fun to see them grow and help them graduate. Their job is 24/7. They go to class, they are the RA. They go to a party; to spring break, to the grocery store, they are still the RA. They are constantly a role model.”
“Seeing people succeed makes me feel very satisfied,” said Wingard. “When people come to me with problems or issues, I really enjoy being able to sit down and help them figure out their class schedule, or listen to them vent about their problems or their day.”
The position provides opportunities, not only see others grow, but also allows for personal growth.
“Becoming a RA really does teach you a lot about leadership and responsibility,” said Anna Burns, a junior English major and RA in Shackleford Hall from Roanoke. “Being an RA has taught me to balance many responsibilities at once, and it has helped me become a more patient and understanding leader.”
In the end, the job is an opportunity to serve the university in a tangible and lasting way, by touching the lives of its students.
“I recommend this job because students have the opportunity to serve the Trojan community and demonstrate their love for Troy and its residents,” said Gui Rampon, a junior global business major and RA in Pace Hall from Caxias do Sul, Brazil. “It’s not an easy job, but if you enjoy helping others and respecting universities’ philosophies at the same time, you can be a great RA.”
Next year, the number of RA’s will be reduced from 73 to 57 because of the demolition of Alumni Hall, an all-male housing dorm that employs 16 RAs. The Housing Department has begun the interviewing process for next academic year.