RA Spotlight: Savannah Gerlach

 RA SpotlightSavannah

Savannah Gerlach

Hall: Morrison 6th floor “Dark Side”

Year: Junior

Major: English

Minor: Creative Writing

Dream job: Publishing and maybe writing someday

Hobbies: Writing, reading, hanging out with friends, teaching herself guitar

Hometown: Hillsborough/Chapel Hill area

Fun fact: “I’m studying abroad in London this summer”

Why did you decide to become an RA?“I just heard really good things. I enjoyed my RA. I was really excited to plan programs and get to know residents. I’ve spent a lot of time as a camp counselor so I kind of enjoy that personal development type thing.”
What are some of the events you’ve planned?“Earlier in the year we had a basketball day where we just came out and played. Me and another RA made smoothies one time. We played Mafia with those little candy cigarettes, which was cute.”
What’s the most fun thing you’ve done with your residents?“The smoothie night and programs where they all come out and get free food and relax. A lot of my residents I think were appreciative of the fact that it was healthier. Sometimes we have pancake nights and it’s not super healthy, but they all just flocked to this. There were people who weren’t even on the hall that stopped by and got some. So they got to pick out their different fruits and it was a fun time to just sit and talk with them. I think that’s the best way to really get to know your residents, to not create hoops for them to jump through with too many activities. Just let them come and hang.”
What do you love about your residence hall?“I really love how social my residents are. A lot of times when it’s nice out I’ll come out and see them all out on the balcony enjoying the weather. They’re super friendly. They’re always really outgoing so it kind of makes my job easier. It’s all sophomores and they’re busy but they still come out to the programs.”
Describe a time when one of your residents did something that surprised you.“I had one resident go out for RHA president, and he didn’t get it but he was just the most gracious person about it. He really stood up for RHA and was really supportive of the winner. I was really impressed by that and very proud. And I’ve had other residents make RA. One of them has already moved to Hinton James so that’s really exciting for her. It’s really exciting for them to step up and do that.”
What else are you involved in on campus?“I’m in Camp Write UNC, which is this awesome camp that we set up for middle school and high school students and we get to teach them creative writing over the summer for free. They have to apply to get in and it’s all made up of fiction writers, nonfiction writers and poets. It’s completely student-run so it has a very entrepreneurial feel to it, and it’s only a few years old. That’s what I’ve been involved with, writing curriculum and lesson plans and just kind of being a counselor.”
Have you gotten close with your staff here?“Yeah, they’re all very friendly and really intent on having that inclusive environment. There are some really funny, creative people on staff. That’s probably my favorite thing about being an RA. We get to have a lot of multicultural sessions and there are a lot of people there that have a lot to say. It’s kind of like an extension of class, but in a more fun way because you just get to talk to your friends about stuff you would normally talk about in class. I like it.”
What are your plans for next year?“I’m going to be an RA in Olde Campus Lower Quad next year. One of the RAs as well is going to be the RA Mentor, so that’s exciting. We’ll have a new community director and it’s going to be super awesome. North Campus is usually a little bit more laid back but hopefully we can gear things up a little and put some energy into that community.”

Residents! If you have a great RA and think they should be featured in a Spotlight like this one, please send in a nomination! RAs! You can nominate awesome residents too!

Send in a nomination

RA Spotlight: Mauricio Barreto

RA SpotlightMauricio Barreto

Mauricio Barreto

Hall: Old West, 1st floor

Year: Junior

Majors: Biology (Pre-med) and Political Science

Hobbies: “If you run all the way around campus it’s a perfect three-mile run so I do that a lot. I also play indoor and outdoor intramural soccer but I’m an alternate because I always end up having meetings during important games.”

Activities: Eating at Lime on Mondays and Sutton’s on Thursdays. “They’ll give me free stuff because I go all the time. If you go often enough you’ll get to know the cashier and then eventually the manager… And then they’ll say, ‘We have extra dessert today! Here!’”

Hometown: Cary, NC

Fun Fact: “I lived in Venezuela for three years as a kid. I also had a pet snake called Billy Bob Joe for several weeks. But then we went on vacation and forgot to leave water for it.”

What else are you involved in on campus? I was a dancer in Dance Marathon for two years and I always loved doing it. I’m also in the student group CPALS so I got paired up with one of the kids in the Pediatric Oncology Clinic and I go visit whenever he’s there. When I was a sophomore my pal benefited directly from the FTK fund so that’s why I dance. I applied for Morale committee after last year’s Marathon because it just looked like so much fun. It’s changed the Marathon for me. You get to know people really well because you’re working on the Marathon starting in September or October. It’s over now and we already miss each other so much. And my best friend Kit is on Morale too so it’s great to hang out with him.
What do you want to do after graduation? I’m going to take two years off before I apply to med school. I either want to do a few years of research or work in the hospital.
Why did you decide to become an RA? My sister was an RA at her university and recommended it to me so I always kept the option open. I’ve always tried to find jobs that I enjoy and that I would be good at and a few of my friends who were RAs recommended this job to me as well so when it came time to find housing for this year I decided to apply.
What is your favorite part of your job? Making stuff. I like doing programs and giving my residents free food. The best part of the job is exactly what you think the best part is, hanging out with the people on your hall and giving them free things.
What’s your favorite event? My favorite or my residents’ favorite? My favorite was when we did pumpkin painting but I don’t think they liked it because none of my guy residents came… It was right before Halloween. We had apple cider and snacks and we all painted pumpkins. Their favorite was probably during finals when I ordered them all pizza. Literally every single one of them came.
What’s something fun you do with your residents? My residents like stealing my door decs. One of them took a bunch and gave them to his roommate. I got kvetched about after that. “To my roommate who stole our RA’s door decoration to make me smile after a rough night: I love ya. Sorry, Mauricio.”

Residents! If you have a great RA and think they should be featured in a Spotlight like this one, please send in a nomination! RAs! You can nominate awesome residents too!

Send in a nomination

RA Spotlight: Kyle Harmon


 RA Spotlight blog size

Kyle Harmon

Hall: Ehringhaus 4th floor “Woodland Side”

Year: Sophomore

Major: English and Psychology double

Hobbies: Eating, sleeping, laughing “and the occasional Zumba in between the eating and sleeping”

Hometown: Mooresville, NC

Fun Fact:  “Almost two years ago I believe- no, two and a half years ago, I got my wisdom teeth out and my lip has been numb ever since then.”

Why did you decide to become an RA? I had sort of a rough transition to college and I remember one night at like three a.m. I was bawling my eyes out and I texted my RA and was like, “Are you here? I don’t want to be alone in my room right now.” I talked to her and she responded in the exact way that I needed. That’s when the idea popped into my mind. I thought “I can do that! I can comfort people at three a.m.!” I sort of wanted to return the favor. And I discovered that helping people with that transition was something I was really passionate about.
What do you love about your residence hall? I really wanted to be an RA for first years because they just want to get to know literally everyone, do everything and make friends and be loved and love college. I feel like first years actually want a relationship with their RA and want the help of someone who has been around the block. I love being in that environment. Everyone comes to programs and everyone likes each other. It makes for an exciting time and it’s definitely infectious. I also love the staff. I knew we were going to be close but I didn’t realize the amount of love that was possible. They are the most supportive, fun, wacky group of people, and we’re all so different, but we all work together so well.
What kind of events do you do? I am a big believer in ‘if you bake it, they will come.’ If there’s food people will come for the food and stay for whatever is actually going on. I did “Cupcakes and Questions” at the beginning of the year during the first week of classes. I’m a big fan of mental and emotional wellness so we did “Smoothin’ Out The Psyche.” We made smoothies and we had Carolina Dining Services and Counseling and Psychological Services come and they both did presentations. One really fun one I had was right before we left for Thanksgiving break. I got two pies and some yummy cookies and a big poster and wrote What Are We Thankful For? My residents came by and grabbed some goodies and wrote what they were thankful for and it was hilarious. Someone was thankful for carbs. I hung it up in the lobby for everyone to see.
Tell me about a time when one of your residents surprised you. I always get pleasantly surprised when I’m not just their RA anymore; I’ve crossed into friend territory. After the Duke game we rushed Franklin Street and one of my residents were there. I was like “Oh hey you!” and then I was looking around at all the people up on other’s shoulders and said “Oh, that looks like fun” and he was like “Get on my shoulders!” And I was like “What? Okay!” It was just this incredible moment and I thought “Wow, we have a relationship that’s an actual friendship.”

 

Residents! If you have a great RA and think they should be featured in a Spotlight like this one, please send in a nomination! RAs! You can nominate awesome residents too!

Send in a nomination

On that note, have an awesome spring break, Tar Heels!

Spring break

Top 10 Move-Out Reminders

During Finals Week, it’s easy to forget those last few things on your to-do list.

1. Take a Study Break – Make these last few days on campus before the semester ends worth it.

If your summer is going to be anything like mine, your days are limited until work, internships, summer school, awkward reunions with hometown friends and cheesy family vacations take over your life. While you’re still here, take some time to hang out in the arboretum on a sunny afternoon, play frisbee in Polk Place or have a night out with friends. With all the stress of exams, it’s hard to remember that it will be a solid three and a half months before most of us get to come back to the Hill.

Here are some events happening around campus to help you prepare for your exams:

PASS Exam Fair

Stop by the P.A.S.S. Exam Fair for snacks, crafts, scantrons, blue books and much more!

  • Finals Boot Camp, April 24-May 3 in SASB North. Stop by the Learning Center for snacks, quiet study areas, raffles and mini-workshops.
  • P.A.S.S. Exam Support Fair, Monday, April 29, 6-8 p.m. in the Union Great Hall. This event includes massages, craft stations, gaming stations, blue books, scantrons, make-your-own trail mix bar, pizza, Med Deli and much more! Sponsored by Student Wellness and Housing and Residential Education.
  • Reading Day Stress Relief with Campus Rec, Monday, April 29 in the SRC. Zumba: 4-5 p.m., Cardio Blast: 5:15-6 p.m., Muscle Cut: 6:15-7 p.m., Bliss Down Yoga: 7:15-8:15 p.m.

Read More »

Love Your RA?

Nominate your RA for the Keith Shawn Smith Award by Thursday, Feb. 21

Has your RA made a positive impact on your Carolina experience this year? Let them know!

In remembrance of former RA Keith Shawn Smith, the award was created to honor exceptional RAs at UNC

The Keith Shawn Smith Award was created to honor RAs who have made a positive impact in their residents’ lives. Nominate your own awesome RA by Feb. 21!

In remembrance of Keith Shawn Smith, who was a Resident Advisor in Stacy Hall during the 2005-2006 academic year, the Department of Housing and Residential Education created the Keith Shawn Smith Award for Community Development and Mentorship.

The award, which is now recognized as a Chancellor’s Award, is granted to the RA who has created a strong community, meaningful mentoring relationships and campus connections. Most importantly, the RA must have made a positive impact on the community they serve. Read More »

Why I chose UNC

And why I’d do it again

As a senior at one of the best universities in the country, I can think of a million different reasons why I chose and stayed at UNC. But at the heart of all those reasons, it is the people – students, faculty and staff – who make UNC great.

4 girls

Gloria (right) with three of her closest friends whom she met during her first year at UNC.

When I began applying for colleges during my senior year of high school, I started by looking at all of the practical factors that go into choosing a school. I wanted to know which university had the best journalism program. I calculated the expenses of each school, because I wanted to get the best value for the best education.

Location was a major factor as well. Being a Tar Heel born and bred, I wanted to go to a school in my beautiful home state. On paper, UNC fulfilled all of those things.

In practice, UNC has surpassed my wildest dreams about what the college experience can be. Read More »

Top 10 Skills Employers Seek

The RA position prepares you for jobs beyond college

by Sam Smith and Megan Carroll

John French

John French was an RA for 3 years, working as the RAM in Kenan his senior year.

According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges & Employers, there are 10 skills that all employers are looking for. Housing believes that the job of Resident Advisor provides students with the listed skills.

While neither one of us has ever been an RA, we have lived in several very different residence halls with very different RAs. We both also have several friends who work as RAs. Through these experiences, we have evaluated the RA position in relation to the 10 skills employers are seeking.

1) Ability to work in a team – Because housing is set up in communities, all RAs learn how to work with a team. As an RA, you’ll be constantly working in collaboration with residents, other RAs, community government, office assistants, community managers, community directors, and other members of your community. On big floors, the RAs have a partner; when on rounds, there are always two people on a shift. RAs take huge pride in their communities and the team of people they work with.

2) LeadershipAs an RA, you’ll have the ultimate leadership experience.  You’ll create a vision for your hall and community, develop ways to make that vision a reality, implement your plan and then get to see the results of your actions. You’re a peer mentor to others, so you could end up playing a huge role in someone’s housing experience. When people are looking to you for advice and guidance, your leadership can really have an impact.

Read More »

Top 10 RA Myths

Common misconceptions about the RA position at UNC

In asking potential applicants about the RA position the past couple of weeks, I’ve come across a number of interesting concerns, provoking thoughts, and outright untruths. In today’s Top 10, I’ll attempt my best Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman impression to bust all the myths surrounding the RA position and application process.

Myth #1: All you do is bust parties or “police” the halls. “Sssshhh the RA is coming!” While we’ve all heard someone utter this phrase a time or two, it’s really not necessary. Certainly RAs have the duty to maintain a safe and welcoming living environment, but they aren’t assigned to hang out by your door and listen to find out what friends you’re having over for the game or what your weekend plans are. RAs want to keep the hall safe and fun, but the last thing they want to be is a paid security guard.

Read More »

RA, Your Way!

The many personalities of Resident Advisors

One of the common misconceptions of the RA position is that it is boring, routine, and that strict rules and procedures don’t allow an RA’s individuality to shine through. However, many RAs around campus have found the ability to “RA, their way” by building their personality and interests into their duties as a resident advisor.

photo of residents making s'mores

Lindsay Pope and the RAs of Aycock enjoy a s’mores night with their residents.

For diehard racing fans like resident advisor Turner Bowan, there’s only one thing better than cheering on your favorite driver on race day: doing it with a dozen other people and some delicious fried chicken. Once a year, Turner and his residents, all sporting tank tops and jean shorts, turn the Hinton James lounge into a scene that more closely resembles the infield of a NASCAR event than a residence hall common area.

“I’m an avid NASCAR fan. I’ll typically have a Daytona 500 viewing party every year where residents dress up in typical NASCAR fan clothing and eat Bojangles,” says Bowan. “While none of the residents may actually like NASCAR, they think it is fun.”

Read More »

Edward Cullen works for Housing?

Inside jokes create a work–play balance

Photo of Larry Hicks

Edward poses for a photo with Larry Hicks, Director of Housing and Residential Education.

Being an RA is hard work, that’s without a doubt. But many of our student staff will agree that the efforts are balanced with lots of good laughs and memories like Connor Community’s Edward Cullen joke.

The tradition began when Connor Community staff learned that their Community Director, Ali Harrison, loves the Twilight series character Edward Cullen—so much so that she happens to have a life-size cutout of him in her office! During the year, Ali’s staff would steal Edward and hide him in random places to scare residents, staff, Ali…anyone who came into the office. Aviv Sheetrit, an RA in Connor this year, says that, one time, Edward was even flipped upside down and suspended from the ceiling! Over time, Edward just became part of the team.

So, in May, when it was time for the Year-End Awards Ceremony—an annual event where Housing student staff members are recognized for their leadership in developing residential communities—the staff felt Edward should be part of the celebration, too. When Ali’s staff stepped up to the podium to recognize her hard work this year, guess who else tagged along for delivery of the speech?