Tag Archives: resident assistant

Residential Life 101

There are tons of exciting and new things about going off to college. One of those is moving into a residential hall. Unless you went to a boarding academy (if you did you are pros already) this is likely your first time living ‘on your own’. You might be very excited about this or you might have a lot of anxiety surrounding the idea. Either way, you’re bound to have questions. Lucky for you, we have the answers! 

First of all, let’s cover how you even get a room assigned to you. It’s actually fairly simple because we’ll do it for you! Once you’re accepted, you’ll be asked to pay a $200 deposit and fill out a housing reservation form. This lets us know of your plans. Since rooms are assigned in the order they are received, it’s a good idea to do this ASAP! Room assignments are sent out in the summer. Something for you to look forward to. 

Now that we have that covered, what should you plan to bring with you? Each residence hall room contains two beds, dresser drawers, closets, desks and chairs, and one sink with a mirror. However, figuring out what else you’ll need to pack and bring to college can be difficult so to make it easier we came up with a packing list to help. Read our “Your College Packing List” post for ideas about what you probably should bring with you for your move up to PUC

Just because you’re not living at home with your family doesn’t mean you’re completely on your own. Each residence hall has a dean who lives in the building. They have a team of RAs or residence assistants, who work with them to ensure each student within their dorm is having the best experience possible. Their goal is for each student to feel like they’re part of the special Pioneers family. 

We asked RA, Alexis Keller to answer a few commonly asked questions about life in the PUC residential halls. 

What is an RA, what is your role?

An RA is a student leader in the dorms. We are there to provide educational, social, and spiritual opportunities for the residents! RA’s will do nightly “room checks,” stopping by each room to check-in and see how you’re doing. RA’s are also there to lend an ear (with confidentiality) if you want to talk about a rough day you had, a bad breakup, or if you need a shoulder to cry on, or just simply need to vent. Our rooms are always open if residents need a place to discuss any issues they are having, or just want to chill. Overall, RA’s are here to enhance your dorm life by being a resource for residents who have any questions/concerns, maintain a safe environment, create meaningful worship events, and plan fun social activities.

Will I have a curfew?

Yes, the curfew is 11 p.m. every night except for Saturday, where curfew is 12 midnight. This does not mean you have to be in your room, but simply in the building. Often residents will still be up in the various study areas of the dorm past curfew. There is also an extension to this curfew, which will be explained more during your orientation!

What social opportunities will I have in the residential hall?

There are many social opportunities in each residence hall! We typically do a big social event once a month, such as movie nights, pizza parties, pancake breakfasts, dorm Olympics, etc. Smaller social events will also happen on your own floor. Anything from a movie night, game night, tea time, and lots of others! Along with attending these social activities, you can put your own creative ideas to good use by working with your RA’s to come up with events that you would like to see happen in your dorm.

What spiritual opportunities?

Each residential hall has all-dorm worship that happens once a week with food, activities, music, and worship thought. Additionally, RA’s will have individual floor worship once a week where students can stop by for a quick snack and devotion. Along with the weekly scheduled worships, RA’s are available for one-on-one Bible studies with the residents. Even when we are not with our residents, we are always praying for them and their success!

What is one of the more challenging things about living in a residential hall and what are some ways you deal with it?

One of the more challenging aspects of living in a residential hall is learning how to live with another person in your space. Having a roommate or suitemate that is messy, has a different sleep schedule, different music tastes, or different living habits can be frustrating. It is important to always be communicative with your roommate as well as be willing to meet them halfway! College is a wonderful growing experience and these challenges can help you grow a closer connection with your roommate when handled correctly. You can always come to your RA’s to discuss any roommate disagreements and to talk about solutions and alternatives to make your living experience more comfortable and enjoyable.

What’s your favorite thing about living in the residential hall?

One of my favorite things about living in the residential hall is the sense of community. Through the various social and worship events, I get to know most of the residents in a more relaxed setting separate from the stress of school. Because we all live together, it is nice to be able to pop over to a friend’s room to hang out as well as to meet up with students within your major for study sessions.


Meet the RAs of Andre Hall

By Carissa Paw

Andre Hall is one of seven residence halls at Pacific Union College and serves as a home for female students throughout the academic year. Andre houses around 170 residents, six of which are resident assistants. I was able to interview Sam Yin, Miranda Halversen, and Jessica Marruffo and learn more about their jobs as RAs and what advice they would give to anyone considering becoming one.

Q&A with Sam Yin

How long have you been an RA for?
I have been an RA for about a year and a couple months.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of being an RA?
The most rewarding aspect to me is being able to connect and build relationships with the residents.

How does being an RA help you become a better team player and a better communicator?         
Being an RA helps me communicate with the residents and so it helps me build better communication skills and also helps strengthen my active listening skills. Another important aspect is understanding the residents and being genuine. I believe all these are crucial to becoming a great team player.

How do you balance being an RA and a student at the same time?
It can be difficult to balance a job and school work but I consider the RA position be a good learning experience and so when I do have to do room check or talk to one of the residents I take time and focus on their situation. When I know I’m going to be doing room check, I finish all my homework and projects on time so I will have enough time to talk to the residents. Sometimes I do have to cut room check a little short and when it comes to having conversations, but the residents are understanding. I work on time management and schedule my school work to have enough time when it comes to checking the residents in at night or having important conversations.

What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of being an RA?
My advice would be to pray about it and be willing to be genuine and understanding when it comes to connecting with residents. Sometimes there will be situations when a resident wants to open up about their problems and talk to you for hours and other times there will be residents who do not even want to talk. One has to be ready for anything. It takes up a lot of time so time management is an important skill to acquire if one does not have it yet. Another piece of advice would be to treat the RA position as not only a job but an opportunity and a great experience.

Q&A with Miranda Halverson

How long have you been an RA for?
I’ve been an RA since this past September.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of being an RA?
I think the most rewarding thing about being an RA is watching the girls on your floor slowly open up to you and to each other, and how you can really feel like you become a family. I’ve made so many friendships from being an RA already.

How does being an RA help you become a better team player and a better communicator?
Being an RA, you have other people you work with and lean on for support while you go through struggles and help girls in our dorm go through things. Becoming an RA has really shown me the importance of family, of teamwork, of allowing others to be there for you and help pick you and support you. I have been overwhelmingly blessed by the Andre team we have this year. With communication, I’ve seen myself improve by meeting different types of people on each of the floors. Each person communicates differently, and you have to adjust to them and you want to make them feel comfortable. I think it’s really helped me work on all different communication styles!

How do you balance being an RA and a student at the same time?
I think for balance, I make sure that when I’m in RA mode, I’m fully dedicated to that. I don’t let myself think about school when I’m doing room check or working so that I can be there fully for the girls. But then I also take my free time then very seriously, making sure to focus and plan out my schedule to make time for everything! I have like four planners; I love to plan things out, even though life has a way of making sure things don’t always go as I’ve planned. Still, it puts me at ease.

What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of being an RA?
My advice would be to pray about it. Being an RA is a form of mission work, you are a leader, a sister, a spiritual mentor for so many different types of people. It takes a lot of time and work to be an RA, but it is probably one of the most rewarding things I have done.

Q&A with Jessica Marruffo

How long have you been an RA for?
This is my first year being an RA.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of being an RA?
The most rewarding aspect is being able to interact, get to know, and form relationships with the girls on my floor.

How does being an RA help you become a better team player and a better communicator?
It allows more opportunities for communication in different situations. Being an RA also puts you on a team with other RAs. We are a team and there are many situations in which we must tackle together. This gives you the opportunity to develop skills as a team player.

How do you balance being an RA and a student at the same time?
Balancing school and a job takes a lot of time management. There are some days in which we cannot fit both into a day. This is when teamwork comes into play and we are able to cover each other’s shifts.

What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of being an RA?
I would tell them to do it! It’s a great experience which broadens perspectives and opportunities.

What it Means to be a Resident Assistant

By Andrea James

Many of us have probably considered being a resident assistant at some point, if only briefly. But it’s hard to tell what the job will actually be like without experiencing it for yourself, so I interviewed two current RAs about their experiences. Desiree Breise, a senior majoring in early childhood education, has been an RA for two years in McReynolds, and Alexandra Smith, a senior majoring in marketing and communication, is an RA in McReynolds for the first time this year.

Alexandra Smith, a senior majoring in marketing and communication, is an RA in McReynolds for the first time this year.

How did you come to be an RA and why?

Desiree: One of the previous RAs recommended me, and I was a desk worker my freshman and sophomore year, so I already kind of had my foot in the door. When the RA asked if I wanted to apply I didn’t at first because I think, I was really nervous about the responsibilities and all of the work that comes with being an RA, but I applied. I did my interview—it was so great, I was so nervous. Then I got the job, and I’ve loved it ever since.

Alexandra: So winter quarter of last year there was kind of a scare we were going to lose one of our RAs because she was going to graduate in the middle of the year, so I heard through the grapevine our dean might be looking for an RA. I thought, “Oh, maybe that would be a thing I would want to try out.” So I thought about it, and I talked to my RA friends, and they told me more about it. I thought, “That’s kind of cool. Not really sure I want that much responsibility in my life.” Then the dean didn’t need an RA at the time because the RA stayed. But, at the end of the year, she did graduate. Then it was application time and I was like, “Do I really want to do this? Do I really want this much responsibility?” I thought about how big an opportunity it is to reach out to all kinds of girls who live in your dorm, and to get to know them, and to know they have a friend and someone who does care about them and who does check in with them—especially the younger girls. It was like, “That’s a really nice thing.” So I applied, and I dressed up, and I did my interview and I got the job.

Desiree Breise, a senior majoring in early childhood education, has been an RA for two years in McReynolds.

What are some of the challenges of being an RA?

Desiree: My biggest one is being an RA all the time because you want to be there 100 percent, but you don’t want to give all of yourself. You want to be able to help others, but also help yourself. That balance is one of the hardest things for me because I tend to give, give, give, and then I don’t have anything to give to myself. If I’m not giving anything to myself, then I’m not going to give 100 percent to the girls. That’s the biggest one, or maybe not getting as much sleep as you want. Yeah, definitely less sleep, but in the end, it’s worth it.

Alexandra: I’d definitely say coming out of your shell because I’m an introvert, so I don’t always want to talk to everyone, and that’s okay, but also as an RA you kind of have to, especially at room check. When you’re going into people’s rooms you can’t be cold to them. Also you are there to help, you are there to be a part of something. So it’s kind of hard to make that initial jump into it but after you start, it’s fine.

What are some of the advantages or perks of being an RA?

Desiree: Well, oh my goodness, community—you get to become friends with amazing people; you get to know the girls in the dorm. I look forward to going to the dorm to say hi to all the girls, to greet them, to make them feel at home. Especially the freshmen who feel like they don’t have anybody, but you’re that person for them. That’s really important and I really love that. And truthfully, I feel like I get to have a more spiritual life being an RA. My walk has been very hard. It’s been a struggle, it’s been difficult just questioning and not understanding what I want in my relationship with God, but being an RA has helped me find level ground in regard to my relationship with God.

Alexandra: We went on an RA retreat at Albion and I love Albion. That was really nice. Also just getting close to the girls. It’s getting the opportunity to talk to girls who you may never have spoken to and they would have never spoken to you otherwise.

What advice would you give to students thinking about being RAs?

Desiree: I would say pray about it and, honestly, go for it. It’s such an amazing experience to get to know different people and different stories because I think we stick to what we know and stay pretty close-minded. It’s such a wonderful thing to be open-minded and see and hear a bunch of different things that you get the opportunity to hear because you’re an RA. Be open to getting to know girls (or boys, whichever gender) and hearing their stories. It’s a full-time job; it’s 24-7. So knowing you can handle that, but do it. Do it! It’s worth it! Being an RA is great!

Alexandra: Just apply and see where it takes you. When we were at RA retreat, the deans gave these beautiful, creative testimonies about how they became deans. A lot of them didn’t think it was in the cards for them at all, but the opportunity just kind of revealed itself. It was almost like a divine intervention.

While I’ve never felt the calling to become an RA personally, it was a great experience to see what a blessing the position has been to some of my friends. If being a desk worker or an RA is something you’re interested in, reach out to your RA or dean to find out more.

Being a Resident Assistant at PUC

By Andrew Mahinay

A single key has the power to open every single door in a residence hall. Out of the hundreds of residents living in a dormitory, only nine students wield this key. These individuals are the protectors of the dorm and the eyes and feet of the dean. The keepers of this powerful key are known as resident assistants.

As a current RA, it has been a privilege to serve the needs of residents in Newton Hall, one knock at a time. There is more to an RA then simply owning a key that opens every door. Some students believe an RA’s responsibility is to intrude into another student’s space. This is not the case.

The purpose of an RA is to check up on each resident’s wellbeing. As an RA, I truly care about my residents. I seek to give them praise when praise is called for and when they experience difficult times, I aim to provide them with valuable advice. One of the greatest things I am able to do as an RA is listen to what my residents have to say. Trust has developed as a result of listening to what my residents. One of the most significant connections to have with a resident is trust, since students are more willing to talk to you about their personal problems leading to the opportunity to serve them in the most effective way.    

It is not the role of a resident assistant to judge, but to assist and serve to one’s greatest ability. We are here to love the residents, to walk with them through the lows and highs of college life. Being an RA is no easy task and requires committed individuals who are willing to sacrifice their time in order to be a presence in the lives of their fellow students. “I invest in the lives of my residents and they tell me they are thankful for it,” said Alfredo Larranaga, another RA in Newton Hall.  

The most important responsibility of an RA is to represent Christ through one’s character and words. RA’s are to be great influential role models, with the ideal of showcasing Christ through their actions, thus bringing students closer to God.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1

Dean Hernan Granados with the resident assistants of Newton Hall.

Dean Hernan Granados with the resident assistants of Newton Hall.