Hello friends and welcome to the Emerging SA Pro Series! My name is Alexandria Honsberger and I just started my first year as a Residence Director at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. I did my undergrad work at Mount St. Mary’s University, MD and received my Bachelors of Science in Psychology. I like to joke that I also received my Bachelors of Residence Life at the Mount. I was an RA for 3 years and RCL (Residential Community Leader) for 2 years. I was a member/co-chair for Rho Alpha Sigma and spent the majority of my free time either with my residents or RA friends! I’ve learned so much about Higher Ed over the years. When I was a sophomore in college, I decided that Student Affairs was an area I wanted to pursue. I attended the ACPA 2013 Next Gen Conference and from that moment on I was sold. I chose Shippensburg University to do my graduate work because I love their College Student Personnel program and the opportunities they provide their RDs. So, two months ago I found myself packing up my bags and moving out to Shippensburg, PA to begin a new journey full of self-discovery!
As I’m sure most of my fellow SA friends will agree, the summer flew by. At this point, I’m looking at my to do list and counting down the days until RA Training begins (2 days, fyi) and I’m really questioning my productivity this summer. Now, of course I did things… for example participating in the planning of RA Training. I worked with my fellow RDs and coordinated/ organized Behind Closed Doors, Emergency Procedures, Conflict Mediation, and Initiatives (team builders). It is still very mind boggling to realize that last year at this time, I was the one being trained and now I’m the trainer/facilitator. And with this realization comes a heavy dose of humility.
I thought I knew a lot about Residence Life and Higher Education because of my past experiences. But I have learned over these past two months that there is still so much for me to learn. I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the planning process for RA Training, especially since I literally just went through it the year before. It was fun bringing new ideas to the table and incorporating Ship’s traditions into the schedule.
Throughout the summer, besides working on RA Training sessions, I also worked on preparing my building for Opening 2015-2016. I emailed and wrote letters to my RAs explaining our building theme and asked them to fill out different assessments. I worked on my assigned auxiliaries (committees) Civic Engagement and RD Selection. Despite all of the work I got done and finishing my first graduate course, Intro to Helping Services, it wasn’t until this week, the week before RAs return, that I finally felt like an RD. With this realization came an onset of panic and uncertainty. I have felt this intense pressure to have everything perfect for when my RAs arrive, because I want their first impressions of me to be positive. So, throughout all of this worrying and scrambling to get things done, I forgot to take into consideration that all of my fellow RDs are experiencing the same exact thing! It only took one conversation with another RD to put things into perspective: I AM NOT ALONE.
This past summer flew by and I don’t know what this upcoming academic year will bring. But, I know that I will have one building to supervise. I will have six RAs and seven DAs. I will have about 200 residents to connect with and meet. I will have one-on-ones, staff meetings, settlement agreements and conduct hearings. I will be enrolled in four graduate classes in the Fall/Spring. I will be a part of planning campus wide programs. There is a lot of unknown that this upcoming year brings. Despite all of the unknowns that are currently circling me, I know I have my supervisor, fellow RDs, past RA friends, and all of you to support me.
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.