The Residence Hall Is Their Domain
Andres Rodriguez is your typical college student—until his “on duty” phone rings.
That’s when the Suffolk senior stops whatever he’s doing and dashes to the University’s new residence hall at 1047 Commonwealth Avenue. He knows his help is needed, and, while the situation may be as simple as opening a locked door, he has to respond as quickly as possible.
Welcome to the world of a resident assistant, where responsibilities can be time-consuming, challenging, and unpredictable—but most of all rewarding.
Rodriguez, Class of 2019, is one of 35 resident assistants who support other students at Suffolk’s five resident halls. He was inspired to join the resident assistant program by an RA who eased his transition to campus life when he was a first-year student.
“She connected with the students and created an energetic environment that was welcoming and felt like home,” said Rodriguez, who was coming to Suffolk from his native Caracas, Venezuela.
A nurturing presence
Aashi Sethi, Class of 2020, had a different but equally compelling reason to join the RA ranks. She came to Suffolk from Nepal and wanted to meet new people and develop her own identity within the Suffolk community.
“I was looking to expand my horizons,” she said.
With nearly 40 resident students under her care, Sethi is a popular figure at Smith Hall, where some individuals even call her “mom.” She enjoys interacting with everyone and conducting monthly programs focused on topics such as personal and professional development, diversity on campus, and community engagement.
“I love when the residents tell me they have learned something new,” she said.
Words of encouragement
Rodriguez oversees about 50 residents and helps them to find a sense of belonging on campus as he urges them to get involved in clubs, activities, programs, or events sponsored by the University. He also is there to guide them with any academic issues and encourage them to meet new friends.
“It’s all about building a community and helping students to be happy and enjoy their college experience,” he said.
Leading with kindness
Danielle Remigio, associate director of Residential Education & Community Standards, said: “I believe that the RAs have one of the most comprehensive leadership positions that the University can offer” to students.
“It makes them better versions of themselves. They are compassionate to and aware of the students on our campus, and they think critically about their decision-making in response to the actions and behaviors of others,” she said.
Rodriguez describes being an RA as a “transformative experience” because of the responsibilities he has taken on and the relationships he has developed over the past two years. He has also learned a lot about himself.
“This job has helped me become more responsible and aware of the person I am,” he said. “It has given me tremendous self-growth and has improved my leadership skills.”
Said Sethi: “This job has helped me to step out of my comfort zone and introduced me to new opportunities. I’ve learned to become more outspoken and adapt to situations I’m not familiar with, and I’m more confident in communicating with others.”