A new semester begins. It will be my third year as a student at Eastern, but it will be my first as a resident assistant, or “RA” as it is usually called. Two years ago to the day, I moved into Sparrowk Hall as a freshman. I was scared. I had no idea what to expect from college. I grew up a twin and had no older siblings to refer to, no frame of reference outside of what I had heard from family members who had not been to college in a long time.
So there I was, confused and alone. I was about leave behind all that I had ever known. Arriving at my dorm, the first person I ran into was the RA for my floor. After helping me move in, he told me, “If you need something, let me know. I’m here to help.” I thought “of course,” to myself, “He has to say that. He’s the RA.” Going to lunch later that week, my RA and his roommate invited me to sit with them. More fake kindness. I was hesitant to talk at first, but eventually I just let my guard down. I allowed myself to open up and trust someone new for the first time since graduating high school. From my first year on, I have become significantly more involved at Eastern. I have collected a good circle of friends, and really engaged with my studies, but my relationship with Eastern started way back during my first week here when a little sincerity went a long way. I knew that when the time came I would apply for the RA position. I hoped that someday I could do for others what had been done for me.
The application process is simple, but rigorous. The resident directors (RDs) put together individual and group interviews, a written application, and they pay attention to how you carry yourself around campus. Every year they take on the thankless job of sifting through many great candidates to find those best suited to serve.
I did not get into the program my first time around, but I had the opportunity to apply again the next year. Upon being selected in the spring, a new RA commits to events and training throughout the months leading up to the following fall, and also spends time getting to know their fellow staff members. While the returning staff and RDs can’t prepare you for everything, I know I have been given the tools necessary to guide new students, help seasoned ones, and build a community that reflects the values that Eastern holds dear.
I have hopes that this year will be a great one. Residents can rest easy knowing that they are in the hands of a very capable staff committed to their faith and driven to serve them. Service was a word that came up a lot in training. As RAs at a Christian university, we are called to lead in a way that reflects the leadership of Christ, not the leadership of the world. This place is special: Together as a community we can secure a safe intellectual environment for people to grow and learn, in a way that glorifies God and stands as an example to the world of what it means to live out the Word every day.