MARQUETTE, Mich. (WZMQ) – It’s the first week of classes on Northern Michigan University’s campus, but there’s a group of students who have already been living in the dorms, and getting them ready for the thousands of students that will be living on campus this school year.
Housing and Residence Life staff moves in three weeks before the rest of campus to learn about the paperwork and procedure of being an RA, or Resident Advisor, and the importance of community building.
Erin O’Donnell is starting her second year as an RA in Maple Hall as a Junior.
“We’re not only there to fill out paperwork and stuff,” O’Donnell said. “But also to really build community in the halls that were placed in.”
She says returning to her floor got off to a good start with a few students who moved in early to help her decorate her floor.
In the apartments, Community Advisor Dallas Wiertella says there’s not as much decorating to do.
“People are here from away from home, and that can be a scary thing, especially for the freshman coming in.” Wiertella said. “Having that friendly face there to smile and greet them and be around is going to be one of their best memories and could be the reason that they stay.”
Paraprofessionals, or Parapros, move in early to spend two weeks in training. RA’s and CA’s spend those weeks of training learning about the offices at NMU and different aspects of the job. From taking care of mental health in the dorms to creating group activities for 50 or more students, O’Donnell says the first few weeks of training are very work intensive.
On top of the planning they do in the dorms, parapros are enrolled in their own classes as well. They get ready for their residents all while getting ready for their own classes.
O’Donnell says creating these spaces where students can feel comfortable and safe can define someone’s college experience. Wiertella says he’s excited to see what new memories they can make in his last year in housing before graduating in May.