Junior McKinley Walsh was recognized by the Northeast Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls as the resident assistant (RA) of the month for September 2019.
Walsh is currently an RA in Terraces Residence Hall 3. This is her second year holding an RA position. She was nominated by Residence Director Shadae Mallory. Mallory submitted a few paragraphs about Walsh, highlighting her as supportive, enthusiastic and an amazing troubleshooter.
Freshman staff writer Cora Payne spoke with Walsh about the role a resident assistant plays in the campus community, why she applied for the job and what she likes about the job.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Cora Payne: Why did you choose to be an RA?
McKinley Walsh: When I was a first–year student, around winter break, my RA told me to apply. I was working on bulletin boards and events and stuff with my own RA all the time, but I didn’t think I would like to have the job myself. It was definitely out of my comfort zone, but, after winter break, I decided to apply and make my decision after. I got the job and thought maybe it would be fun to push myself and try it. Last year was my first year as an RA, and I was on the transfer floor. Everyone was from all different places and had gone to so many different places. I met so many great people.
CP: What are some things you do to support your residents?
MW: It’s hard because I’m a junior and I’m very busy, so I’m not here very often. When I am here, I always try to keep my door open, and I try to do one-on-ones. I see my neighbors regularly, and I always talk to them about events and bulletin boards and the food they like. I try to be here when I can, but upper-years are honestly really self–sufficient.
CP: What is the most challenging part of being an RA?
MW: I think with upper-years, they’re very different than first-years. First-years need more support, but upper-years are more independent. Because upper-years don’t need it as much, it can be harder to plan events. When your residents aren’t available during the times you’re available or they’re just uninterested, it can be really hard to get everyone to come to something.
CP: What is your favorite part of being an RA?
MW: I like meeting new people. Since coming to college, I’ve become very extroverted, and I love talking to the residents I get to support. I’m really close with a lot of the other Terraces RAs as well. I get to see them a lot and say hi to them on campus. I love saying hi to people.
CP: Why do you think RAs are so important to the campus community?
MW: They’re usually the first person someone meets when they move onto your floor. Especially for first-years, you may not know anybody, and they could also be shy and unwelcoming. But an RA will always be there to introduce themself and will make sure you can contact them. It’s a really important support system you have from the second you move onto campus.
CP: What do you hope to achieve throughout your time as an RA?
MW: I have definitely improved my time management skills because there’s a lot of work on top of your classes and the normal life of a college student. It also throws you into unpredictable situations, and you just need to learn how to figure it out and help people the best you can with whatever you have. I hope to keep on learning those skills. RAs work on thinking on your feet to help the people around you. Since coming to college, I’m more extroverted and way less apprehensive about larger social situations, like presenting in front of a large group of people or explaining a difficult topic. There are a lot of skills you don’t realize you gained until you have them.