Being An RA Was A Gift That Kept On Giving
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Being An RA Was A Gift That Kept On Giving

My residents were more than just freshmen. They were also my family.

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Being An RA Was A Gift That Kept On Giving
Ahniaelyah Spraggs

Junior year of college was one of the most stressful years for me. Prior to starting this year, I spent my summer working with children ages 6-12. So when I got an email that I had been chosen to be a Resident Assistant, I was a little nervous. I was convinced that I could only bond with little kids. However, I was still excited to see what RA life was like.

When I first met the other RA’s, I felt like such an outsider. Everyone appeared much older than me and seemed as if they knew more about what was happening than I did. Everyone talked about C.I.R.C.L.E., going to the PRC, and doing OTM’s. Each time I would tune them out and think about how I was going to create 40 gender-neutral door decs and find paper big enough for the bulletin boards in Brandt Hall.

Throughout training, some staff members that stood out to me were EuoNieqe, Ellie, Crystal, John, and Zoe. EuoNieqe reminded me a lot of my mom—strong-minded and didn’t have time for anyone’s BS. Ellie was always on top of everything we had to do. Crystal was like another sister and I was able to easily bond with her. John was the funniest man ever and such a great reporter. Zoe reminded me of my mom as well; she always was so organized, firm and determined.

Fast forward to move-in day. Matthew Grant was the first resident of mine that I met and we instantly clicked. I sat in his room for about 20 minutes and although I don’t remember what we talked about, I do remember feeling as if I had known him my entire life. Matt continued to be a sweet and non-judgmental resident that I could always confide in. He also was the first resident to call me “mom” and tell me he loves me.

Another RA that I met that exemplified the same qualities as Matt was Iris. From the very first day I met her, she was extremely nice and a really good friend. When we collaborated on our first program she made it known that she cared way more about the residents versus the other RA’s. Iris was also a phenomenal artist and was always on Snapchat brainstorming about new and innovative bulletin boards that her residents would love. Iris certainly inspired me to always put my residents first.

Some of the most dope and most hardworking RA’s and Programming Assistants I met were Amir, Andrew, Ashley, Nujuma, Aaron, Gavin, Malik Hicks, MarRay, Teresa, Dai Ja’, Eric, Maab, etc. Not once did I ever see Amir slack off during the year or sleep, for that matter. He was always up late studying or doing something productive. I don’t know how Andrew managed to live such a fulfilling life without a smartphone, but he was always so funny and positive. Though I went to high school with Ashley, I had never worked alongside her. Ashley was constantly talking about wanting to be a dentist and her passion for that career was very evident. Nujuma was a very down-to-earth individual and we always had great conversations. Aaron and Gavin were the top dogs of Brandt and Rhoads; they were both bosses in my eyes and were able to effectively balance their social life and RA life. MarRay and Malik were teddy bears that were always so nice and always seemed as if they were making power moves.

Teresa, Dai Ja’, Eric and Maab have been some of the sweetest PAs ever. Though I swore Teresa’s real name was her Instagram username, I’ll never forget the fact that she would always ask how I was doing. Dai Ja', Eric and Maab were also really great friends. Each time I would see them, they made an effort to get to know me.

The RA’s, Hall Directors, and Assistant Directors that made the biggest impact on me were Sam Roche, Kaitlyn, Kevin, Nydra, Alexia, Kevin, Ashley Gaddy, Jamese, and Fletcher. Sam was such a carefree spirit that could make anyone laugh and he and Kevin were amazing friends and confidants that would always make me feel comfortable. Kaitlyn was a warrior that never lets her health get her down. She taught me to be more grateful in life. Nydra and Alexia taught me the most this year. They showed me the value of true friendship and I'm really happy I met them.

Though I knew Ashley Gaddy before becoming an RA, as she’s my mentor, it was really cool getting to see how much work she does outside of mentorship and I will discuss the impact she’s had on my life in a later article. Jamese is also my natural hair mentor and she and Ashley Gaddy have consistently supported me throughout my natural hair journey and are the reason why I feel more confident and more proud of being an African American woman. Fletcher was the coolest AD I met as he would always make me feel welcomed and loved and he reminded me so much of my favorite uncle.

My residents that made the biggest impact on me were Tristan, Clarke, Jazmine, Neil, Hunter, Natalya, Yaa, Bruce, and Ty. Tristan exemplified the same qualities I had when I first came to VCU — I was closed off and really quiet. However, when Tristan began to open up, smile more and let his guard down, he made me want to continue being an RA. Clarke reminded me a lot of one of my sisters, she was very confident. Whenever I needed help with something and she wasn’t around to help me, she would demand that my other residents help me. Jazmine and her friends Monique and Brianna felt like my best friends. Those young ladies always invited me over to laugh and talk about any and everything and they really made me feel appreciated.

Neil, Hunter, Natalya and their friends Mary Jo and Maddi were also like family. Neil was by far the sweetest person I had ever met and he never once made anyone feel unwelcome and he was always upbeat and positive. Yaa seemed as if she was the leader of her group of friends and was always keeping her friends in line and consistently supporting them. Though we didn’t have the chance to connect much during the second semester, she was always sure to let me know that my efforts weren’t going unnoticed.

The boys of 2004, which included Tristan, Bruce, Ty, Neil, Matt, Max, Hunter and Cecil, were one of my most lit suites. It was never a dull moment with these gentlemen. Bruce had a lot of swag and didn’t care too much about what others thought of him. Ty was one of those kids from the 757 that always stayed in his own lane. He stayed to himself the entire year and I really appreciated his girlfriend Kiva and his best friend Tasha who was always so nice to me.

All in all, I appreciate every person I encountered during my first year as an RA. Before I started this position, I wasn’t really interested in making new friends or getting to know many other VCU students. Each person I met was unique in their own way and taught me something new about myself. Shout out to the rest of the Brandt and Rhoads staff and the rest of my residents that I did not mention. No matter where I go in life, I will never forget you all and thank you all so much for reaffirming my love for VCU!

P.s. Special shout out to Lerone, Hannah, Zach, Nicole and Ms. Latiesa. Thank you all so much for putting up with my crazy antics and never giving up on me. You all also hold a special place in my heart. I would also like to thank Sandya, Dakota, Geri, Jordan, Etienne and Audrey. Sandya thank you for your continuous support and great conversations and Dakota, Geri, Jordan, Etienne and Audrey thank you for making me feel comfortable and being really great friends. Geri thank you for helping along my fitness journey and for being a great friend to my residents.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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