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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Student of the Week: Antoinette Otoo

    Antoinette Otoo rarely has a free moment. The 23 year-old senior, a Sociology major from Ghana, lounges in her comfy computer chair, the door to her room propped so she is readily accessible to the girls on her floor. Otoo, who has been an RA, or Resident Asssistant, at Langmuir College in H-Quad for one year, has the task of balancing school and extracurricular activities, including being a member of LEG, the student legislature, and Gospel Choir with her duties as an RA. Otoo’s busy schedule is a small price to pay: ‘You get to be a role model through leadership and service,’ she says.

    How did you come to realize you wanted to be an RA?

    My RA in Schick College in Kelly Quad told me about the leadership qualities I possessed, and how good it would be if I became an RA. I decided to apply as one by filling out an application form, writing an essay that explained why I wanted to be an RA, and got two letters of recommendation from people I knew on a professional level. You must have a minimum cumulative G.P.A. of 2.5 to apply.

    What qualities do the RA hiring committee look for when selecting students?

    The current RA’s and hall directors of a college facilitate the interviewing process and check for communication skills, diversity, leadership qualities, and how you work with others.

    What are some of your duties as an RA?

    The RA is very involved in campus life, community building, promotion of diversity, leadership, and role-modeling. Campus Residences is big on diversity promotion through programming, with every month having a theme – for example, February is Black History Month. You’re supposed to get to know the people on your floor – their likes, their dislikes, how you can cater to them and still make everyone feel inclusive. Programming helps get everyone involved in some way. Community building, which goes along with diversity promotion, is also important By getting to know the individuals on your floor, you’re able to cater to everyone’s needs. That way, everyone feels like they belong to the floor.

    What are some of the rewards of being an RA?

    I like the fact that I get to know more people than I would as a regular student, and I learn more that way. You have the opportunity to meet faculty members you can later get recommendations from. Most of all, you get to make an impact in other people’s lives by tending to the need of your residents, which you may or may not get the chance to do as a regular resident. You have the chance to be a role model and lead through service. Be it through conflict resolution or programming, you are impacting residents’ lives and doing something they appreciate. It’s not every day you get to do something that makes people say, ‘Hey, thanks a lot. I appreciate you doing this.’

    Tell me about some memorable experiences you’ve had as an RA.

    I’ve never had anything too crazy happen while I was on duty. One time I walked in the girl’s bathroom, and a guy was in there. I was shocked, but I had to tell him he wasn’t supposed to be in there. Luckily, he walked out immediately. There was another time I had to break up a party, and I dreaded doing it, because it was a resident I happened to be good friends with. She wasn’t a student that got into trouble a lot, and I ended up having to document the situation, meaning she had to face judicial action. It was hard, but luckily she understood that I was just doing my job.

    What advice would you give to someone who wants to be an RA?

    Have a strong sense of what the job is about, and know what is required of you. That way, you can be very convincing in your application and the interviewing process. Once you become an RA, you will find it rewarding because you’ll know what you’re getting into, what the job entails. Exude confidence in what you’re saying. Stand out by voicing your opinions – don’t be shy. You’re going to have to be proactive and assertive once you’re a leader, and these qualities must be visible to the interviewers.

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