Residential advisors build a home

by Danny Dyer, Staff Writer

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San Diego State offers a litany of on-campus job opportunities for students of all talents and financial backgrounds.

Whether it is managing the front desk of the Aztec Recreation Center or handling data collection at Love Library, perks like walking to work and structuring a flexible schedule around classes has enticed numerous undergraduates to capitalize on these student-orientated occupations.

Of all these on-campus job opportunities however, one of the most demanding positions is also one that is of the most overlooked and underappreciated.

Being a resident advisor, commonly abbreviated as an RA, is no six-hour work shift three days a week.

At the very least, it is a rigorous, daily job.

At the most? It is a year-long commitment to a residential hall and its inhabitants.

As an RA, duties fluctuate weekly, requiring a knack for multi-tasking and versatility.

“Some of our responsibilities include planning at least 10 events for our residents each semester, putting up bulletin boards and enforcing policies in the building,” said Kimberly Alli, a residential advisor at South Campus Plaza. “Some aspects are definitely more fun than others, but ‘duty’ nights can be a great time to bond with staff members and residents.”

One of the primary goals this challenging position strives to accomplish is creating a friendly environment where a sense of unity is felt between all students on their residential floor.

This isn’t always an easy task though, as it is, after all, a building brimming with newly anointed college students.

Depending on what kind of freshman resident you are, the RAs are either a beneficial resource for understanding campus life, or a lingering authority knocking on your dorm door at 3 a.m. requesting you to turn off the music.

While live-ins have varying opinions on their RAs, the RAs themselves seem to uphold the same positive mentality about all students they oversee.

Julia Grigorian, who has been the residential advisor for University Towers for the past two years said her residents are the most inquisitive people she knows.

“Entering into university is such a pivotal moment in an individual’s life, often making their new circumstances feel uneasy,” she said. “Acting as their role model is such a gift. I’m their confidant, their big sister, their mom, their support system and their friend.”

This mindset of placing the student first is as much of a necessity for an aspiring RA applicant as having a sturdy work ethic and adept collaborative skills.

All the same, this mindset appears to be one of passion, rather than dutifulness.

Grigorian said her favorite part of her job is the residents.

“I am incapable of adequately describing how incredible it is to cultivate those meaningful relationships with them,” she said. “My job comes in with a built-in community that I’m in charge of creating.”

Despite such attractive perks as free room and board, along with a stipend of about 100 dollars a week, the main allure that gravitates students such as Grigorian and Alli to this position are the people they engage and guide.

For many, it is the atmosphere crafted by their own RA’s that actually inspired them to take on the job themselves.

Shannon Williams, a residential advisor for Zura said she had a great RA her first year.

“I was able to see the strong community that was created on my floor as a freshman,” she said. “I decided that this was something I wanted to be a part of and foster, so I decided to apply for the job.”

Evidently, this is not a job for everyone. Most students juggle the common trials of school work and social life.

RAs handle these commonalities while also mentoring an entire floor of other students, through both experience and example.

But most of all, residential advisors strive to obtain a friendly, safe community amongst their peers and other students on campus.

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