While students living on Drake University’s campus have interactions with their Resident Assistant on a regular basis, the impact of a positive RA can make a lasting impression on a first-year student.
According to the RA application packet, “RAs must be leaders, role models and resources for their residents; however, just as important, they must be team players that work with and support other staff in their own hall as well as other halls on campus.”
First-year student, Tianna Jones, said her RA Stephanie Brandstatt has made a positive impact on her life over the past several months.
“It is hard to find your place in college and my RA Stephanie helped to give me a sense of belonging,” Jones said.
Brandstatt, a senior, said being a RA has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her college career. She has been a RA in Carpenter Hall for the past three years, with each year bringing new challenges and blessings.
“I love the opportunity to build relationships with so many people,” Brandstatt said. “You serve as a role model for the residents on your floor, build community by creating programs, enforce policy and offer help whenever it is needed.”
As the RA selection process begins each year, Associate Director of Residence Life Randy McMullin said he encourages current RAs and other residence life employees to give nominations of residents who would make a good addition to the RA staff.
“Students who have been recommended receive an e-mail encouraging them to apply for a position,” he said. “We hope to see those students at group process.”
Brandstatt said the group interview process is where applicants are evaluated based on their ability to work with others.
“Once an applicant has made it past the group process stage, they have an individual interview with two members of Residence Life staff,” she said.
Any student at Drake who meets the requirements for the position may apply. RAs must take their positions seriously. Not only do they need to be in good academic standing with a minimum of 2.5 cumulative GPA, but also they need to follow all rules and regulations.
Compensation for RAs is a free single room and board in a Drake residence hall.
Applications may be picked up at the front desk of any residence hall or in the Student Life Center and must be turned in at the Office of Residence Life by 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 18. When turning in the application, students will need to sign up for the group interview process.
McMullin said RAs are chosen after they have been fully assessed in a variety of ways as there is no specific recipe for becoming a RA. He said both introverted and extroverted people are needed on staff to create a positive group dynamic.
“Once RAs and alternates have been select¬ed for next year they are required to take the RA class,” McMullin said. “The amount of RA positions available depends on the number of those returning.”
Jones said she decided to apply to be a RA after being inspired by Brandstatt.
“I’m very nervous for the interview process, but I would like to be influential to the first-year students as a RA like Stephanie was for me,” she said.
McMullin said RAs are selected after consid¬eration of the student as a whole. He said RAs are not chosen based solely on the interviews or application because the goal is to get students on staff who are going to promote a living-learning community. That community involves all types of students.
“There is no cookie-cutter RA; it takes a combination of people to make a successful staff,” McMullin said. “As in any organization, the applicant needs to be doing it for the right reasons—to be a friend and mentor who has a passion for Drake.”
Photo: Connor McCourtney