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Former Residential Assistant trains current RAs

RA TrainingAlthough Stetson may seem quiet on the surface during summer, Housing and Residential Life (HRL) is working hard to train Stetson’s 2014-2015 Residential Assistants (RAs). In an effort to keep building on and improving the yearly RA trainings, the HRL staff brought RA alumna, Nikki Owen (pictured left), as a guest speaker this year. Owen was invited to show how being an RA helps foster skills that can be applied to the workplace.

Owen worked as an RA for three years at Stetson. Her RA career culminated in the prestigious Residential Assistant of the Year award for 2012-2013. After Stetson, Owen began to work for Disney as a Deep Water Life Guard at Typhoon Lagoon and then moved up to the position of Deep Water Life Guard Relief Coordinator.

In her current position she oversees any health and safety concerns, managing the other life guards in Typhoon Lagoon, and responds to any issues that guests might have about the attractions.

So what do life guarding and the RA position have in common? A lot, actually. Owen said her days start off by examining all of the slides and rides at Typhoon Lagoon in order to make sure they are safe for park goers. This type of work mirrors what RAs do when making their rounds around Stetson’s residential buildings.

RAs have to be on the lookout for anything in the halls that might endanger students, just as Owen does each morning in her job. RAs, in a manner similar to Nikki, also have to address the concerns of their customers: the student residents. Owen says that people come to her every day with a wide range of issues—from lost children to unhappy park guests upset that a ride is closed. She tries to help them as much as she can while keeping their experience “magical.”

Although RAs at Stetson may not have to keep vacationers happy, RAs do face the challenges of helping as much as they can while helping residents understand that some things are out of their control. RAs cannot solve an academic crisis or a mental health issue, but they can point their student residents to Stetson’s many holistic wellness resources designed to help the health of students’ minds and bodies so they can make the most of their Stetson experience.

Owen is thankful for her time as an RA at Stetson. Working for HRL allowed her to cultivate skills she now uses in her work place. She was happy to come back and share her magic-making tips with the new generation of Stetson RAs. At the end of her presentation Owen said that it was a “wonderful experience” to come back and share what she has learned with Stetson’s current RA staff.

By John Dieck