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Residential distress

Resident advisors act as campus mentors

Published: Monday, January 27, 2014

Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 22:01


David Cohen

Senior psychology major, Hope Wooten (left), has been an RA since the spring semester of her freshman year.

Resident Advisors at A&M have their fair share of responsibilities, juggling the roles of being resident, administrator and peer mediator within the hall.

Hope Wooten, senior psychology major, said she decided that she wanted to be an RA during her time in Gateway, a provisional acceptance program for incoming freshman. Although she was not initially chosen for the position, Wooten said she kept applying anyway and was chosen the following spring semester.

Wooten said she feels that being an RA is a unique experience because of the relationships she has formed.

“The relationships I’ve had the opportunity to develop, not only with residents, but with other staff members,” Wooten said. “I get to live with my best friends and make new friends while I live and learn.”

Kara Apperson, senior kinesiology major, said she wanted to fulfill both a friendship and advisor-like role.

“My favorite thing is probably learning how to communicate with all my girls,” Apperson said. “Getting to know my girls is the best part. I’m there as a resource, so it’s nice if they’re not afraid of me and I can help them get through college.”

Freshman mechanical engineering major, Angelica Guerra, said she would like to be an RA to learn to work as a team, just like an engineer would.

“What draws me would be the leadership and how it ties into my major as an engineer,” Guerra said. “As an RA, you are on a team with every freshman, so y’all work together.”

Apperson said she was first frightened she wouldn’t be a good RA and became aware of the gravity of her role.

“My first semester I freaked out if I heard noise,” Apperson said. “That was probably the most difficult part — learning not to assume something bad is going to happen. It was a big lesson to learn.”

While undergoing RA training, Kara said the mock situations “traumatized” her.

“They had a room where there were alcohol and drugs and someone passed out,” Apperson said. “I was really overwhelmed and it was a lot to handle all at once.”

Later in the semester, Apperson said an actual incident occurred involving students drinking alcohol in their rooms, but she knew how to respond to the situation.

“I knocked on the door, announced myself and said ‘I need you to pour all the alcohol down the sink and be compliant,’” Apperson said. “I never had anyone give me attitude. I think of myself as more intimidating than a normal person. I’m six-foot, blonde hair and I look like a force to be reckoned with, so that’s definitely an advantage.”

The worst situation, Guerra said, is if her residents feel as if they can’t speak with her as an advisor and a friend.

“It seems intimidating,” Guerra said. “My biggest fear would be having someone feel left out — like they can’t come to me.”

Guerra said the most important part about being an RA would be obtaining student respect in order to more easily handle different kinds of scenarios encountered in the residence halls.

“You’d have to be understanding in situations. I know how easily one can fall into situations,” Guerra said. “You have to let them know that you understand and that you’re disappointed, and that’s what the bond with the RAs and the kid is based on — respect.”


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