How RAs prepare for the school year


Morgan Kielisch, Photo Editor

Two weeks before residents arrive on campus RAs are hard at work training. This training includes lectures, videos, team-building exercises and role-playing scenarios.

Through some of their training RAs learn how to develop a community in their wings, how to have tough conversations with residents and how to plan activities.

“It’s a mix of lectures and spending time with our staff building bonds. For new people they are learning how to deal with different situations they could have like sexual assault or anything that residents can come talk to us about,” Annie Vasterling, senior, biology and forensic investigation major and Bridgeway Commons RA, said.

According to Tyler Vraney, an RA in Bridgeway and senior business major, there are some fun activities and there are some tough days. There are also a lot of team-building exercises where everyone comes together as a group to bounce ideas off each other for planning events, billboards, and decorations.

“There’s not one RA that leads the team, everyone works together,” Vraney said.

Door decorations and wing activities take time to create.

“I prep two weeks before training even begins by making door decorations and thinking of ideas for activities that I want to implement on the wing. It’s a lot of planning out in the beginning,” Vraney said.

Returning RAs are great mentors for younger generations. Vasterling is in her third year as an RA, and enjoys helping people through her own experience.

“It’s weird to think of myself as a mentor,” Vasterling said, “but I want to lead other staff members and be a positive influence in shaping who they become as staff members.”

During the school year, RAs attend weekly staff meetings that teach things such as how to juggle school and work.

“Although it can be a tough job, it is a rewarding job too,” said Alisha Slowey, Resident Director for Bridgeway Commons.

“The best part is the impact that you have on other people, whether it’s residents, staff or other people around campus. It’s cool how people know who you are. Even if you’re at Walmart people still recognize you,” Vasterling said.

Trina Exe, junior, elementary education major said the friendships that you make with staff and residents are her favorite part of the job.

As with every job, there are challenges. The biggest challenge for Vasterling is saying no.

“I tend to overbook myself,” Vasterling said. She books time for herself to get her own homework done in the library, where she won’t have distractions from residents.

“Being able to relate to all residents can be difficult,” Exe said. But the challenge is worth it.

She offers some advice to her residents and all students at University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

“Be open to anything, and put yourself in uncomfortable positions,” Exe said.

“Get involved. That’s the best way to stay in school and get the most out of it. Find something you love to do and just do it,” Vraney said.

There is no standard personality which makes the best RA, but people that want to help others and have strong work ethics are good qualities to start with.

Slowey encourages anyone who is thinking about becoming an RA to get involved on campus and then talk to a current RA about the opportunity.

[email protected]