RA opens up after working with students


On many Saturday nights, Berea senior Tracey Anderkin can be found behind the front desk at Barnes-Campbell Hall.

Instead of partying, she’s busy checking visitors in and out of the building and answering phones. The top of her amber-colored locks are barely visible over the multileveled desk as a group of guys walk over to the elevators. As the flow of foot traffic slows for a moment, another song begins to play in a CD player beside her.

“This is one of my favorite songs,” Anderkin said.

In a moment, she’s to her feet, singing and moving along with the rhythm. A few years ago, Anderkin would have been too shy to dance in public. She said becoming an RA, or resident assistant, has boosted her confidence.

Anderkin’s first year at Western was a lonely one. When she wasn’t in class or working at Taco Bell on campus, she stayed in her room. She didn’t speak to many people.

“I would walk back to my room from work with my head down, talking to no one,” Anderkin said.

In the fall of 2000, at the urging of her RA, Anderkin attended an RA interest session.

At first she was apprehensive about being an RA, but she eventually realized the job might help her break out of her shell.

“I figured that I could use more people skills,” Anderkin said.

Two weeks before school started the next semester, Anderkin was back at school and at a training session for RAs.

The session helped her and other RAs learn what rules needed to be enforced and exactly what she needed to know to be an RA.

It also helped each building’s RAs get to know each other better.

Spending time working at the desk is something all RAs are required to do, but Anderkin doesn’t seem to mind. Her friends frequently stop by and keep her company.

Not everyone who comes to the desk is in a friendly mood though, she said. The RAs sometimes get the brunt of another person’s bad day.

Anderkin gets yelled at by residents, but she doesn’t let it get her down.

“I love my job,” she said.

The transformation from shy and quiet to outspoken and energetic didn’t happen in an instant. But others have noticed the change in her attitude.

Anderkin’s mother saw the difference in her attitude from just four months as an RA, Anderkin said.

Barnes-Campbell RA Melissa King said Anderkin’s past experiences as an RA helps King when she has problems.

“She’s someone everyone can come to, not only residents but also as a staff,” King said. “If we have a question, nine times out of 10, we go to Tracey, because she has the experience.”

The residents on her floor have grown fond of Anderkin as well.

“She’s very perceptive,” said freshman Tracy Mariacher. “She tries really hard for everybody (on her floor) to get along.”

Besides being appreciated for her efforts, Anderkin also has a few special benefits.

Like most RAs, she has a single room and a discount on her housing fee.

Even with the perks that come with the job, not every day is a holiday.

Sleep and free time are some of the things that are sacrificed when one chooses to be an RA.

“The residents come first,” Anderkin said.

She also doesn’t like to get residents in trouble, but she realizes that rules have to be followed.

Even with the troubles attached to the job, Anderkin stays because she enjoys ” helping others become more independent.”

She also gets the unique opportunity of meeting a large group of people she would have never gotten the chance to meet in any other situation.

If you are interested in being an RA, contact your hall director or your RA or call Housing and Residence Life.