Aileen Pena: Life of an R.A.

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Ever think about becoming an Resident Assistant?  Well, before you apply, you should know what the daily life is like, because it is very challenging.  Take it from sophomore accounting major and criminal justice minor Aileen Pena from Southwest Detroit. She had a rude awakening while barely into her first semester on the job.

Fun fact: she is also part of Student Government, where she is a historian who helps take notes for the group.  How she got into that is “pretty weird:” she didn’t even apply or think about joining; someone recommended her and she got the job.

During freshman year she worked for the testing center as a test proctor for work-study. But Pena said she was looking for something more fulfilling and could get her involved on campus. After hearing from friend Krystal McCloud that positions were open, they both decided to apply.

The process wasn’t necessarily brutal, but it was a lot, she said. First, she had to go through the group interview, where all other applicants were there and Pena would say “observed intensely.”  Also “I felt pressure not to mess up or say anything wrong,” she said. Later they were interviewed individually, having to wait days to get a confirmation or rejection email.

Being a Resident Assistant is not something you can do lightly and not put much effort into, Pena said. It requires a lot of patience.

It entails her to do office hours, community time (taking your residents in the hall to dinner, having your door open for a few hours, etc.), night shift, making and updating the bulletin board and door decks with something creative, staff meetings, hosting programs for her hall, reporting incidents, enforce the rules of the campus and weekly check-ins with her boss.

Asking her what it’s like to handle a hall full of girls almost the same age, she confesses, “Currently, it’s difficult because my residents are very energetic (which I love). However, at times they don’t follow the rules and I have to interfere. But, I know that over time things are going to get better!”

Even though they can be loud, she said she also wants people to know, “I love bonding with my residents and getting to know them, and I like being someone they can come to.”

She said having to do all of that can be stressful, but with her planner that is way heavier than the average student, Pena feels like she can take on anything.  To make her feel organized, she said she plans out her whole week before it begins to make sure she doesn’t miss anything.

This job isn’t for everyone. Unfortunately, some people won’t be able to handle it. Though if they can, Pena suggests you go for it. It opens you to meet new people, and learn leadership skills.

After describing it as a “24-hour rollercoaster,” Pena said she still loves that she can be a role model for the student body.

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