[Just a note: This post will have nothing to do with books or movies or my various intellectual pursuits, but I needed post something as today marked a fairly big milestone in my life.]
Today was my last day working for the Department of Residential Housing here at Ohio University. It’s not time for me to leave OU altogether. I have taken another role on campus and will be finishing my dissertation over the upcoming year.
In 1997, I came to Ohio University as a first year student. Frankly, I didn’t want to be here. I had dreams of a big city school with all sorts of prestige–I won’t name the school but some of you know the story. My first week on campus left me a confused mess because I thought college would be this intellectual paradise in which students sat around talking about poetry and philosophy. I had seen Dead Poet’s Society one too many times and thought that college surely must be more like that boarding school than my high school had been. Much to my chagrin that was not the case and while I made some wonderful friends on campus during my freshman year, it was becoming a Resident Assistant in my sophomore year that helped me find a home at OU but also changed the course of my life. Becoming an RA was one of the best decision of my undergraduate life here (the other best decision was studying abroad in Ireland). It was through my role as an RA that I made some of my lifelong friends.
I made the decision to stick around for graduate school. Because what do you really do with a B.A. in English and Political Science and a certificate in women’s studies? It was during graduate school, while being an assistant hall director, that I realized that my true calling was working with college students and that made all of the difference. That was 2001, and in so many ways, I’ve never looked back, even though my dad still thinks I should go to law school–I think in my mid-thirties and nearing completion on a PhD that ship has sailed.
Over the years, I have had oversight for a lot of students (I can’t even count as I have had between 250 and 650 residents each year for twelve years of running halls). While the residents have offered a great amount of joy and challenge, it has been my work with the RAs that has made my time so truly phenomenal. I have had the joy of supervising amazing RAs–over 175 (I think the number is actually 202) young leaders in my time here. Over the years, I got to witness their triumphs and their hardships. I have been able to offer them support when things were difficult. Each staff became a family–sometimes utterly dysfunctional but always amazing. I got to see these young people step up in a role that is as challenging as it is rewarding. Each one of them made me a better person. They challenged me to think about the world differently. They made me learn new things from how to communicate with each of them differently to chess to video games to science and math. Every one of them taught me about what they were passionate about. We laughed together, and we cried together over the years. We struggled through incredibly difficult times dealing with some of the hardest things that can happen in college. I’ve gotten to celebrate many of your accomplishments with you from internships, to graduations, and with some of you weddings and even births of children now. To all of my RAs: you made the difference in my life just as you did for your residents. I got the opportunity to see such grace and strength in you all. Thank you for sharing your lives with me. From my first staff to my last, I’m proud to say that I’ve known each and every one of you.