Not everyone considers their resident assistant as a friend. Typically, RA’s are depicted as mean, rule enforcing naggers who ruin everyone’s fun. For the residents of Lawson Hall’s 5th floor, this was hardly the case.
Brooke Kimball, a junior and family and consumer sciences major here at EIU, was and still is adored by her residents from last school year. The bunch consisted of mostly freshmen girls, with the exception of a few older ones. Brooke, a sophomore at the time, admitted that being close in age with many of the girls helped her connect with them better.
“It was very nerve-wracking to know that I was going to be in charge of 40-plus freshmen for the most part and just knowing that you have to be there for them, and things might not always be smooth sailing,” said Kimball. “Issues like sexual assault or alcohol poisoning could get brought up, and knowing you have to be the responsible one and handle that in a professional manner, it was kind of scary.
According to one of Kimball’s former residents, sophomore and accounting major Lindsey Perkes, she did an excellent job as their head honcho.
“Brooke definitely made my freshmen year more interesting. She got us all involved like to meet each other and make us feel more at home,” said Perkes.
Kimball also said she wanted her residents to think of her as a friend, and she made it clear that she was someone they could always confide in.
“I wanted to make sure that they knew they could come to me for anything and that I was always readily available, even if I wasn’t on duty, even if I was home for the weekend. They all had my number, so if something happened and they need me then they could get a hold of me,” Kimball said.
Another one of Kimball’s former residents, sophomore and nursing major Lauren Graham, said they nicknamed Kimball, “mom.” Although the age margin between Kimball and the girls was small, she acted as a motherly figure to the freshmen.
“She made everyone feel like she was the mom and we were all her little children,” said Graham.
Kimball said she was lucky to get the group of girls that she did on the fifth floor, and she was glad they all became friends. She said her floor was unique, just like she wanted it to be.
“I liked meeting all new people and feeling more welcomed. As a freshman coming to college it just made everything easier as it transitioned,” Perkes said.
First-year college students often struggle with the transition from home life to campus life. Saying goodbye to their family and friends to enter an unfamiliar way of life can cause extreme stress, anxiety, pressure, and more. It is helpful to have someone in their corner while adapting to college, and who better than an RA who has already been through what they’re going through?
“My goal was to be a mentor to all of my residents and have them know that no questions were off limits, they could come to me, and that I was someone they could trust with any situation, good or bad,” Kimball said.
Kimball said she was under a lot of pressure to effectively run her floor while sticking to her RA training and policies, but after the first month or so everything was fine other than a few minor instances.
“As much as I hated everyone being super loud at night, I miss getting up out of bed and telling them that they had to go to bed too, I miss the atmosphere,” Kimball said. “I definitely miss being a door away from them and getting to see their accomplishments first hand.”
Perkes and Graham said they went to student-teacher lunches with professors Kimball introduced them to. Her residents raved about her door decorations for every new occasion and the fun activities she planned.
Her residents raved about Brooke’s ability to lighten up serious situations, and the way she gracefully carried herself.
“My favorite part about being a RA was getting to know all off my residents and just really developing a relationship with them, and I still get to see a lot of them off campus even though I’m not a RA anymore,” Kimball said. “So that was great to know that I made like a lasting bond with all of those girls.”
Now that Kimball is no longer a RA, she said she keeping herself busy as the president of the Student Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and focusing on her future career. She said she and former residents still keep in touch.