On the other side

The life and times of an RA at Ferris State

Graphics by: Jordan Lodge | Production Manager

Being a Resident Advisor (RA) can be difficult according to Ferris first year pharmacy and third year student staff member Kamah Ellena.

Learning everyone’s face, especially in a large residence hall where there can be up to 500 residents, and in the sense that every year, 500 people immediately know your own.

“I didn’t realize I would have such a face in my community,” Ellena said. She spent one year as an RA and is now in her second year as a Senior Resident Advisor (SRA).

There is more to being an RA than many students realize, and while some smiled discussing the most rewarding parts of their job, there are also difficult parts.

“It’s not like a normal job,” said Ferris marketing senior and third year RA Justin  Feehan. “It’s a 24-hour thing you have to build your life around.”

Student staff endures two weeks of intense training before the school year begins, as well as returning early from winter break for a refresh before the second semester. During that time, they have constant training throughout the day, and decorate the halls during the rare breaks in between.

During this training period, RA’s spend time in session with DPS officials for drug, active shooter and safe place training.

Though student staff often deal with challenging residents, to them the job is still undeniably rewarding.

“I like being able to meet different people, especially in Bond since it’s international students,” said Ferris human resource management senior and first year RA Esad Miftari. “It’s kind of nice to exchange stories and talk to them.”

According to Ferris medical lab science sophomore and first year RA Allison Young the job has helped her become more confident and she’s able to confront people easier than she used to.

Several of the RA’s claim that their personal growth in abilities such as leadership skills, interpersonal communication, time management, perception, self-knowledge and confidence became a top-priority.

Being put in situations outside of their comfort zone has also allowed for RA’s to recognize their strengths and weaknesses.

“It’s taught me to approach situations in a different way, because you never know what people are going through,” Miftari said. “It taught me to take a step back and analyze the whole situation.”

Feehan added that his biggest successes in the position has been residents who say they wouldn’t have made it through without his help.

“I saw the impact that an RA made and that’s what inspired me to be an RA. So people can have better experiences,” Feehan said.

Becoming an RA also opened them up to unexpected benefits and challenges.

Miftari referenced dealing with the more emotional aspects of resident’s lives, while Feehan said that people will always surprise you in every way and that you never know what you will encounter.

Ellena noted that as an RA, you will be challenged, and will probably cry tears of both sadness and joy.

There will be difficult parts of the job that may be more emotionally challenging than anything you have done before. But RA’s are at the forefront of  a student’s transition into college by helping residents make their respective residence hall their home away from home.

“People think of an RA as a disciplinarian, but we’re so much more than that,” Ellena said. “We’re the place you can go at 3 a.m. when you don’t know who else you can go to for any other problems. We are that safe place. So no matter what you’re struggling with, we’re always there to listen and help you find a solution. We’re one of the most trained resources students have on campus, and we’re often overlooked and underutilized.”