What is it like to be a resident advisor (RA)? Chiana Chuc ’24 and Jenna Witherspoon ’25 say that their days start as soon as they walk out the front door.
A resident advisor is a leadership role that supports the on-campus housing community. They’re a resource for student development and help to ensure safety for residents.
Chuc, who is a creative production major and visual effects minor, has just begun her third year as an RA for Chapman Grand. She shared that while being lead RA for continuing students at Chapman Grand, she’s also a full-time student, vice president of Chapman’s professional cinematic fraternity Delta Kappa Alpha and works as a lead DCI Lab assistant in the makerspace on campus.
Due to being known and recognized on campus as an RA, the work starts immediately.
“Everyone recognizes you in the gym or between classes as an RA. So it’s normal to be approached with questions. We carry ourselves in a way that best represents Chapman wherever we go,” said Chuc.
Witherspoon, who is a screenwriting major in her second year as an RA for Henley Hall, chimed, “As an RA, you’re everyone’s first friend at Chapman. When new students are afraid to attend campus events alone they’ll sometimes ask us to go with them. If someone can’t find a class or a building and they see me, I help them.”
At the end of a long day of classes, an RA may have meetings to attend with their team or students in the community. Meetings consist of check-ins with supervisors, discussing issues that residents are encountering, community news and events, or training.
“Being an RA for continuing students is a little different,” Chuc said. “First-year students have a centralized location in their dorm building for finding their RA. Working at the Grand, which is bigger, everything is a bit scattered within the community.”
RAs end their day with a two-hour walk through their community to observe and be seen. While on their walk, they can make sure housing rules are followed and be a supportive presence for residents.
“After a day of classes, internships and clubs, we do a two-hour community walk from 8 to 10 p.m.” Witherspoon said.
“It helps us see what’s happening, but more importantly shows that we’re present,” Chuc added. “If a student doesn’t know where to find us, they might bump into us on a walk.”
RAs have a hectic schedule with a 19-hour work week while being full-time students. The most challenging aspect of the job is setting boundaries for work-life balance.
“It’s difficult to compartmentalize where you study, where you relax and where you work because they’re all the same place,” Chuc said.
Despite the demand of the job, RAs are grateful for the experience and excited to help.
Witherspoon shared her favorite part of being an RA, saying “Seeing first-year students at the start of their journey on move-in day is so rewarding. They’re excited, some are nervous, but I’m the first friend that a lot of them make. The first person they meet at Chapman.”
Chapman RAs welcome new students, and want them to take advantage of having an RA as a resource for information or a friend to explore the campus and community with.
“I didn’t get to experience living in a dorm due to covid,” Chuc recalled. “I want to be a bridge for new students and their community.”
If students see their RA on campus, they can stop and greet them. For questions or housing issues, students can contact their community office or schedule a meeting with their RA.
Interested in becoming an RA? Apply for this year-long role during spring semester.