One of the most anticipated days of the year for students at Saint Joseph’s University is move-in day. For some students it is their first glimpse of the University which they will call home for their freshmen year, as for others, it is a fresh start of an upperclassmen year on Hawk Hill. Move-in day surely stands out to me as being one of my favorite days of the school year, as it marks a new beginning for my role as a Resident Assistant (RA). On the first day of each school year, I welcome the individuals who I am lucky enough to work alongside of for a complete school year within a residence hall on campus. In this leadership position, I am serving the residents of Saint Joseph’s University as a mentor, authority figure, community-builder and friend.
This year, I was given the opportunity to work alongside talented sophomore students involved within the Arts Residential Learning Community in Jordan Hall. This community was built for residents who are interested in enriching their lives through self-expression within creative outlets, such as the visual or performing arts. However, on move-in day this year, I met with all of the individuals living in this community and I realized that I would also be working with students who are not involved with the Arts at SJU. It was in this moment that I was pleasantly surprised with a unique challenge so, I created a goal for myself as a RA to bridge the gap between two communities within the house. After a few months within the house, I have come to realize the true value of being a RA and, in turn, a community builder.
Oftentimes, it is thought that sophomore students are adjusted to campus life and do not need to meet new people, as they have already made their friends. As this is usually the year in which you begin to feel completely independent, there also comes a new transition period. Typically, in sophomore year, you will begin to cook for
yourself and live farther away from campus. You may also begin to start questioning where you see yourself in the next few years so it is understandable that along with these newly added responsibilities, there also comes a need for a guiding hand to push you in the right direction. This guiding hand may come in the form of your RA. As I have found this year, effective programming and communication within a Sophomore Residence Hall has proven to be a major asset in building a warm and welcoming community to give support in this adjustment period.
Although, the workings of a RA sometimes go unnoticed, the effects of creating fun events for residents to participate in has definitely stood out to me this year. From the beginning, I have found that sophomore students easily look to connect to others; this is especially true since they have matured since freshman year and are looking for a deeper connection to others. Through sparking conversations within a group setting, especially in regards to potential career paths, I have found that my residents have easily begun to open up to each other. Once open communication is established, I have found that a community can be formed. Through my role as a Resident Assistant, it is not only important for me to create a safe environment for Hawks to call home, but it is essential to bridge a gap within a diverse community so all students can continually make connections and, in turn, continue to grow and develop.
Aly Bartolomei is a junior English major with a double minor in Faith-Justice Studies and Marketing from Northeastern Pennsylvania. She is the Resident Assistant of the Arts Residential Learning Community, the Initiate Advisor for the Zeta Iota chapter of the National Honor Fraternity, Phi Sigma Pi, a leader of the SJU faith sharing group, Koininia, and the Intern for the Admissions Office at Saint Joseph’s University. A piece of advice that she would give to future Hawks is to “continually strive to ignite your passion for Hawk Hill by reflecting upon the impact of your positive addition to this community”.